The SharePoint third-party ecosystem has always been a place ripe for innovation, but ecosystems are also full of junk. The SharePoint ecosystem is not immune to this, but there are some that stand out from the rest. A few of those companies are Nintex, MetaVis, and Colligo. Colligo’s flagship product, Contributor Pro, is the focus of this review.
Before you read further, you should know I received this in exchange for a review. However, I have not let that alter my opinions and assessment of the application.
The Elevator Pitch
Colligo filled a much needed hole early on in SharePoint’s history. Users wanted a way to manage SharePoint documents without the necessity to visit SharePoint every time. Colligo came along and filled that early hole. Microsoft came along with the short-lived SharePoint Workspace as the spiritual successor to Groove. Microsoft has since switched to the OneDrive for Business application, but it still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of SharePoint functionality.
Contributor Pro brings with it three main components:
- A Windows rich client
- A File Explorer extension
- An Outlook add-in
Now, first off, I won’t be reviewing the Outlook add-in. Why not you ask? Because I hate add-ins in Outlook. I don’t hold that against Colligo, but it’s a main reason why harmon.ie is a no-go for me. Outlook is already slow enough without a bunch of add-ins loaded. Now I had a few minutes with it because Colligo automatically installed it (which I will address later), and it seemed to work fine. I just uninstalled that with a quickness.
The Windows Client
The part of Colligo that I like the most is the Windows rich client. Now it hasn’t fundamentally changed in a while, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Change for change’s sake is never a good thing. However, the new version brings with it a few features (these come from their materials):
- Support filing to upload only and offline locations. Visual representation of upload only vs offline locations.
- Visual representation of upload only folders vs offline folders.
- Apply different metadata to individual files when filing multiple files.
- Some more development options are now available.
As you can see, not a bunch of big updates, but the ability to applied metadata individually to bulk uploaded files is a nice one. Also, something not mentioned in their materials is support of ADFS in this version, which my company uses for our extranet.
Here are some things I really love about Colligo:
- Manage all my disparate SharePoint sites in one place
- Offline capability
- Rich metadata experience
- Ability to sync and use SharePoint views (including grouping!)
- Selectively sync list/libraries
- Advanced filtering
Here is a view of the application (links to full view):
All of the site’s libraries are presented on the left-hand side, and there is a tree view option that allows you to expand to see folders (I don’t care for it however). You can see the view placement in the top-right ala MOSS (which was still the best placement to this day). You can upload, filter, delete, and more in this view.
When you open the dialog to edit properties, or upload a new document, you get the following dialog. Here you can see the rich experience all the way down to your term sets.
Windows Explorer Integration
There is also the Windows Explorer integration. It syncs sites you add to the rich client, and it allows you to drill into your sites using Windows Explorer. You can still check out, delete, and edit properties as you can in the client. The only time I really use this, however, is when adding new documents. This makes it easy to use a program’s native “Save As” dialog to save the file to SharePoint.
Colligo is essentially offering you two ways to get to your SharePoint files, and depending on which you prefer working with this is a nice option to have.
I love this product, and I have no problem admitting it. I’ve tried others, and I simply don’t feel the same way about them. I also like that Colligo has a new product for Mac users, and I hope it will get a rich client at some point. If you or your organization desires this functionality, and if you’re doing collaboration, I can’t imagine why you would not want this application.
There are a few things that I wish would be addressed:
- I don’t like that in the new version it automatically installs the Outlook extension. In past versions it gave you the option. Again, I hate Outlook extensions, and even though I’ve uninstalled the add-in it still shows folders in my Outlook. Colligo’s Briefcase for Windows only gives you the Explorer integration and rich client if you don’t need the Outlook add-in.
- This product isn’t really great if you’re working in a primarily WCM environment. Yes, you can edit metadata on physical pages, but it’s far from what you’d expect in an inline editing experience.
- I’m surprised there is no search capability in the rich client, and I can’t get Windows search to work well with the Explorer integration. Colligo management tells me this is on their roadmap for the rich client.
- The app to this day has old iconography and a distinctly MOSS feel to it. Now, there is an option for a “current Windows appearance,” but it’s bad and has contrast issues. The application is slated for a visual upgrade later this year.
Overall, if you want sync and offline SharePoint capability, there is no better company than Colligo. It earns my strong recommendation.