Collecting feedback with Backboard

29 11 2009

Who needs Sharepoint workflows when you have the Web at your disposal? In spite of all the YAs (yet another …) every once in a while there’s that one particular application that really catches your attention –Backboard really does belong to that last category. Want to know why? Then read on … Oh yes, I’ll probably continue this blog in English -our faculty is so international it does make sense …

While unfortunately many web 2.0 applications are merely a matter of novelty over substance -how many timelines have you embedded in your blog so far?- Backboard does performs one of the essential tasks in any professional domain, really, be that education or a private company, and that is collecting feedback.  Backboard allows you to do just that: the basic idea is that you can upload documents or enter a web address and then ask colleagues, friends, or anyone, really, what they think of your document/website.

Three simple steps will get you going, but there's more if you want to...
Three simple steps will get you going, but there’s more if you want to…

The system even allows for secure uploads, but only so if you have a premium account, which you can try out for a limited period if you want to (the free account gives you unlimited Backboards, 5 MB maximum size per file, and no SSL by the way). You then need to specify who should be able to access and assess your document: you can give free access to the whole wide world, but maybe you will be more comfortable with selecting your own executioners yourself, in which case you simply list their e-mails in a text box and that’s it. Additionally, you can also provide an access code which your reviewers then have to enter before they can view your document.

Reviewing a document then is as easy as either inserting general comments, or you can use the red pencil to indicate certain sections of the document and then comment on just those sections. The owner of the document gets informed whether or not you have given feedback yet. A simple test with a pdf document resulted in this:

Provide general feedback or comment on specific sections of a document
Provide general feedback or comment on specific sections of a document

I haven’t tried many different formats yet, but th system should have no problems with Word (DOC/DOCX), Excel (XLS/XLSX), PowerPoint (PPT/PPTX), WPD, ODT, ODP, ODS, RTF, PDF, TXT, HTML, SQL and JS), images (GIF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, BMP and PSD), vector graphics (AI, EPS, PS), web pages or other URLs, and free-form text.

Next time you need a couple of opinions, give it a try -I don’t think you’ll regret it.



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