SharePoint gets more social with updated NewsGator software

Social Sites 2.0 lets users find colleagues with specific expertise and create, join communities

NewsGator Technologies Inc. today unveiled Version 2.0 of its Social Sites social computing software for Microsoft Corp.'s SharePoint 2007 collaboration product. The new version aims to let users more easily discover and meet experts in their companies and to form and join communities to collaborate on projects.

NewsGator first announced Social Sites -- a set of templates that allow SharePoint administrators to more easily bring in RSS feeds and tag content -- in October under an agreement with Microsoft.

Social Sites 2.0 includes features that make it easier for users to find relevant information and experts within their companies via a graphical display of a person's social network created from explicit and implied connections to others, said Brian Kellner, NewsGator's vice president of product development. Social Sites 2.0 is scheduled to ship in the second quarter of this year. The Social Sites display will show a user's strongest colleague connections and recommend additional connections based on common content and interests, he noted.

"We start to draw out connections between people based on information we have about them," Kellner said. "[Social Sites 2.0] provides visualization to see which colleagues map most strongly to you based on subscriptions and tags and can recommend new colleagues to you based on community membership and [blog and wiki] reading patterns."

The new release also includes enhanced support for employee collaboration by allowing users to create, discover and join ad hoc online social communities that connect users to people with common areas of expertise and interests, Kellner added. The communities will support discussion among users and use tags and RSS feeds to keep all members up to date on the latest news and activities of community members. The feeds are designed to completely replace group e-mail distribution lists, he noted.

"We can start to infer that if you pay a lot of attention to [Microsoft's] ASP.Net program, then you might be interested in a C# community," Kellner said.

Tom Rizzo, director of SharePoint at Microsoft, noted that businesses are increasingly looking to bring the benefits provided by consumer-based social networking sites into their organizations. Social Sites lets companies to create such social networks in a secure, firewall-protected environment, he added.

"NewsGator's innovative product features help Microsoft customers more easily embrace enterprise 2.0 technologies, thereby increasing SharePoint Server 2007 adoption and usage," he said in a statement.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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