There are several tools on the net for written online collaboration. For example, MUO recently published an article about for writing collaboration. But for those working on and seeking feedback on visual media projects, The Commentor might be a useful online collaboration tool.
This site is useful for web designers, photographers, advertising agencies, and freelancers in general who work in the visual communication fields. Tools like The Commentor enable users to get beyond writing endless emails to provide feedback; and instead, it provides ways to give feedback on visual documents themselves.
The Commentor’s free plan allows for 100MB of image uploads, two projects, and three collaborators. Other plans are a monthly fee, providing more storage space, collaborators, and projects. The free plan, however, is great for say, students and home users who might not need the month-to-month service. The site owners also point out that, “If you are using your free account regularly””there are no time limits. If your free account hasn’t been active for three months, it will be removed automatically after three notifications to your email.”
After signing up for an account, you begin by adding a project folder. It works similarly to how you gather visual media together for a client or instructor, who in turn provides written comments, sticky notes, and other annotations to items in the project.
After the project is created, you start adding “sketches,” e.g. visual images, designs, art work, photos.
Once projects are uploaded, you can invite others to give you, well, comments. When you sign up for an account, you are given a custom URL so that others can link to your account. However, to add comments on projects, commentators must also join the site.
The heart of the site is the Projects page or module. It consists of a toolbar for making annotations and comments. It works similarly to the tools you find in say, Photoshop. It has tools for drawing squares and circles, for creating comment boxes, and a pen tool for freehand marks and sketches.
Annotations made on project items are non-destructive. The original files are always kept in tact. The purpose of these tools is to actually give feedback on the project pieces themselves. There’s also a nifty zoom tool and ruler, very useful for designers.
The colors of the shape tools can be changed, but unfortunately, the font size in the comment box cannot be increased.
Although The Commentor is about making annotations and feedback on visual files, there still should be a place to provide written feedback beyond the comment boxes.
All project items can be downloaded or locked, and there’s also a feature for approving projects items, which again is another cool feature.
Overall, The Commentor is a useful online collaboration tool and an online feedback tool. However, I think it could provide more as it grows and expands. It would be useful, for instance, to include a way for commentors or collaborators to give recorded audio feedback as part of projects. An audio recording too would another way of cutting down on back and forth written emails concerning project items.
I can’t any other sites like The Commentor, but I”˜m sure there a few others out there. Let us know what similar online tools you use or have tried.