When you are working with other people who are separated across long distances, collaboration on an idea can be challenging. Sure, we have email, Google docs, project management webapps and many other things, but there is a real need for some hands-on collaboration solution which can remove the barriers between geographies. Framebench is a new startup which is attacking this problem. The startup will launch its web collaborative product tomorrow, the 25th of January. I managed to get a preview of the service before its upcoming launch and I can say that I am excited about it.
When I log into the service, I get a screen which lists all the projects I want to collaborate on. This concept is similar to most project management products like Basecamp, Teambox and so on. You can add new projects and access existing ones.
When you select a particular project, you get this dashboard. There are 4 different aspects of this screen – File list on the left, editing toolbar on top, the chat widget on the lower right hand side and finally a space to view files in the center.
From what I could understand, the Framebench supports mp4 video files, standard image formats like jpeg, png and jpg and finally pdfs. Once you select a particular file, the file gets displayed in the center. Here, I have selected a png image. You can pan and zoom the image using your mouse.
You can add multiple users to a project. When you access the project together, both of you can move the elements (the image in this case). If your collaborator zooms into an image, even you will zoom in. The service lets you know who is doing this by throwing a pop-up to this effect. Thus everyone involved with the project will know who is doing what. Everything you do on this workbench can be seen by other collaborators.
A boost to collaboration is the chat widget that you see on the lower right hand corner. You can see which collaborator is online when you log in. This will help people to collaborate quickly with each other. Framebench will also be adding a voice chat option to this widget.
The toolbar on top has options to draw a line, comment on a particular point, zoom the object, fullscreen support and undo/redo options. When you add a comment to a particular spot on an object, it is visible to all collaborators who can then add their comments. The comment box can get lengthy if the project is complex. To make this easier, the comment box collapses into a box which just show the main comment and the number of replies. The box further collapses into a pin when you access the file after these comments are made thus making the whole thing simple and easy. Comments and lines on the files can be saved as versions and can be accessed like that.
I checkout all the file types and the service ran very smoothly, especially the video part. The service looks like a definite winner for the art, design and production industry as it minimises all the effort required when teams are spread across different offices and cities. With regards to pricing, Framebench will be free for individual users but there will be a limit on the number of files that they can upload. Everything like number of collaborators and storage size is unlimited. Interesting!
Here is the complete pricing list.
I got in touch with the founders Rohit Agarwal and Vineet Markan, to ask them more questions about the product and the startup itself.
1. Give us some background about yourselves?
Rohit Agarwal and Vineet Markan, are both BITS Pilani grads with interest in visual graphics. The journey started with a winning run at The ET Power of Ideas in 2010. Framebench also got incubated at IIM-A through the iAccelerator Program.
2. How did the concept for this product come about?
We were collaborating on Google Docs for some computer graphic projects and it just wasn’t working for sharing and commenting upon images and animations. To resolve this problem, they built the first prototype of Framebench. The idea further crystallized when we talked to the R&D head of an established animation studio in India, which incidentally are also our first customers.
3. What are the markets that you are looking to get entry in with this product?
The vision is to have a global reach encompassing Graphic & web designers, UI/UX designers, advertising & marketing firms, gaming companies, video production houses and basically, any two individuals wanting to collaborate visually.
4. Can you give us some information on the tech behind the product?
HTML5 allows us that a superb single page web application. We ace communication through sockets using new age web technologies on the server that is based on the secure Amazon cloud.
5. I noticed an integration with basecamp. Are you gonna add support for any other services?
Yes, definitely. We’re looking for integration with file sharing services like Dropbox, Box, etc. Along with that we’re looking at other project management services which are popular among the designer community. Also, we will be releasing an API sometime down the line so that studios can integrate Framebench within their workflows efficiently.
6. Tell us about your funding. Are your bootstrapping, seeking capital or have been funded already
We raised an undisclosed investment from a set of great angels.
The service is going to launch to the public tomorrow. Check it out and let us know what you think of it.
Website | Framebench