Box Notes brings streamlined document collaboration to Box [by Jonathan Berger on The Box blog, Sept 16, 2013]
I’m excited today to introduce Box Notes, a new way to create documents and work in real-time with others on Box.
Our work began many months ago, but the moment Box Notes first came alive for me was the first time I saw one of my team’s faces – in the form of a profile picture – pop into the Box Note and zoom down the left side of the page. There’s a lot of research about the way our brains process faces and how they have a unique way of making us happy. A smiling face, even in the form of a small profile picture, tells us someone else is there. The web is a social environment, and at the heart of it all is people.
Including people’s profile pictures in Box Notes says volumes about the product as a whole. We want you to have fun using it, we want the product to make you smile, we want the product to shine when you’re collaborating with other people, and we want to enable things that are only possible when a text editor is built on top of the web.
Our long-term vision is to continue to build a product that makes it easier to capture and share information, but right now I’d like to zoom way in and highlight three key features in detail.
Work is Collaborative
At its core, Box Notes is about working with others. And nowhere is this more exemplified than in the profile pictures I mentioned above, which we’ve nicknamed ”note heads.” These work by displaying your profile picture in the left margin next to your cursor position. When you’re working on a note with multiple people, it’s easy to see where everyone else is working. We’ve found that it facilities activities like conference calls because you can say “look here” rather than “look at the third paragraph, line number four.”
Whatever tool you’re using to capture ideas should fade into the background and get out of the way, but at the same time provide additional richness when you want it to. Think about how you can completely ignore the eraser on a pencil until you need it.
Our inline toolbar is built with the same principle in mind. We’re striving to keep the editor as streamlined and elegant as possible by only displaying functionality when it’s relevant. Only after highlighting some text will you see our inline toolbar appear, offering a way to annotate a document and leave feedback for others.
Simple annotations within your document and the ability to comment alongside the document are examples of ways to capture ideas and share them with others. We’ve aimed to provide the most essential tools for getting work done.
Built into Box
Finally, sharing notes with others is just as simple and secure as sharing anything else on Box, because Box Notes is built on top of Box. If you create a note in a folder where you’re already collaborating with others, you don’t have to do anything to share it. Your collaborators will already have access. And if the folder has no existing collaborators, your note isn’t shared and is as secure as anything else stored in Box.
We hope you enjoy Box Notes and look forward to the many features we will be adding soon. We’ll continue to improve the editor, making it possible to create a wider variety of documents. Accessing notes from anywhere and any device is crucial, so expect to see a mobile version of Box Notes too. And we’ll continue to build features that are only possible in an online, collaborative editor.
Our belief is that existing word processors have overshot the market, building ever more complex features, many of them still related to printing documents. At the opposite end of the spectrum, social communication and messaging applications have enabled new forms of continuous productivity [by Steven Sinofsky] not previously seen in the workplace. Box Notes is a blend of these two categories. We believe innovation along the dimension of social collaboration is the future of content creation tools in the coming years.
[See also my post on Opinion Leaders and Lead Opinions: Reflections on Steven Sinofsky’s “Era of Continuous Productivity” vision [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Sept 1, 2013] + Sinofsky’s current productivity environment is “
@GaborFari @surface @alexpozin my only “PC” is my Surface RT running 8.1beta. Using an android phone right this moment.” as per Steven Sinofsky @stevesi 16 Sep]
You can sign up now to request access to our private beta—we plan to make it available to as many people as possible in the coming weeks.
3d Party reflections on this:
– Box filling out cloud-based productivity toolset with Box Notes [by Rachel King on ZDNet, Sept 16, 2013]
– Box Announces Box Notes, A Lightweight Editing Tool That Is An Opening Salso against Microsoft’s Office [TechCrunch, Sept 16, 2013]
– Why the real Box Notes target isn’t Microsoft Office [by Mary Jo Foley on ZDNet, Sept 16, 2013]
– Box launching Notes word processor to close the gap with Google Drive [The Verge,
Sept 16, 2013]
– Box Notes takes on Google Docs with collaborative editing, available in beta now [Engadget, Sept 16, 2013]
– Box Unveils Notes, Its Google Docs-like Feature Coming In 2014 [The Next Web, Sept 16, 2013]
– Box Notes brings streamlined document collaboration to Box [PCWorld, Sept 16, 2013]
– Box Launches Box Notes, Its Own Take On Google Docs [Forbes, Sept 16, 2013]
– Box won’t say it out loud, but it’s now taking on Google and Microsoft with Box Notes [GigaOM – Tech News and Analysis, Sept 16, 2013] with the following concluding summary:
It’s not just file-share-and-sync, it’s collaboration
Box faces formidable competition in the file-sync-share-and-store landscape in Google, Microsoft, Dropbox and a dozen smaller companies, so it’s trying to distinguish itself with its business-only focus and to carve out a bigger piece of the collaboration market.
It’s worth noting (again) that Sam Schillace, a key force behind Google Docs, is now VP of engineering at Box and Steven Sinofsky, who ran Microsoft Office and Windows, is now an advisor. Both of these guys are big thinkers in enterprise collaboration software.
Prospective tire-kickers can sign up for a limited beta this week at – Box CEO Aaron Levie will announce the product at BoxWorks on Monday. General availability for the free product is year’s end.
The first release promises concurrent editing in real time; collaborator presence (the aforementioned floating heads); in-line toolbar and annotations; comments etc. Plans call for a mobile version (interesting that this wasn’t first down the chute); the ability to embed video, images and audio; version history; and (this is a big one) offline editing. As we all know not even the most ardent web surfer is online 24 X 7.
The demo was pretty cool and I saw lots of ways to use Box Notes at Gigaom. If only they’d lose those floaty heads.
The Box success story so far
Box: Simple, Secure Content Sharing & Collaboration [box YouTube channel, Jan 11, 2012]
Box Sync: The First Cross-Platform Sync for the Enterprise [box YouTube channel, May 23, 2012]