Cloud document storage gets chat

New chat functionality on the Dropbox and Google Drive cloud platforms promises to focus collaboration on the files being discussed.

filechat lead image
Credit: FileChat

One of the big problems with using e-mail to collaborate with colleagues, is that associated files and documents are hard to track. Versions get convoluted, and if you miss an e-mail you could easily find yourself working off the wrong version.

Cloud storage was supposed to fix that—but didn’t. One still finds oneself asking for version clarification from the author from time to time.


FileChat, presenting its product at the Disrupt 2015 event, is a collaboration tool that runs over-the-top of cloud platforms Dropbox and Google Drive. It allows chat-like collaboration within the file system.

The idea is that you can discuss documents, pictures and videos stored in the cloud, without leaving the cloud environment.

Explaining documents

This should also fix the other big issue with collaboration on files—explaining your document to colleagues: line-items in a spreadsheet, for example.

I was once told by a colleague that “you can’t expect people to read every line in a spreadsheet,” when it became clear that a budget I had presented by e-mail hadn’t been understood, or possibly read at all by the finance people.

FileChat should fix that problem—although it won’t correct intrinsic stupidity in some fellow workers.

Cloud folder chat

Signing up involves allowing access to Dropbox or Google Drive, and then choosing a cloud folder in which to start the chat.

You invite collaborators using e-mail, and then the chat occurs within the folder’s graphical interface.

Oddly, on a Windows machine, you don’t actually open the file, such as a spreadsheet in the UI—it has to be downloaded to the participants’ machines, and then opened in the respective software, like Excel.

But you can lead your colleague through that process, and hopefully that doesn’t let them get distracted, like it could do if you left them on their own.

Images showed fine.

App version

The company told Computerworld's Barbara Krasnoff that you can edit files inside the app version, although I couldn’t get a spreadsheet or Word preview to render at all.

I’d say stick to using computers and downloading within FileChat for now. “A Seamless collaborative experience” is promised. The product was launched earlier this month (May, 2015) I’m sure they’ll figure it out.

More platforms

OneDrive, Box and Amazon Cloud Drive will eventually join Dropbox and Google Drive, according to Erick Wingfield who wrote about FileChat’s launch.

The cloud platforms “need an easy and common way to make collaboration and messaging more effective," Alberto Escarlate, FileChat’s CEO said in a press release. Escarlate says his application will introduce “a new way of managing documents and files and discussing them.”

Paris, France-conceived FileChat, now located in New York, has obtained $3 million in private funding, the company says. Pricing is free, but premium features will be added.

Attention span

One of the issues with electronic, remote collaboration is that you don’t know how much attention the person has paid to your pitch.

This way, with cloud chat directly associated with the file, you at least can tell if they nod off or go and play with the dog—they’ll presumably stop responding to you.

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