Wikis -- group editable Web sites -- are becoming more popular as a means for online group collaboration, but those who benefit from such systems, business travelers in particular, are often offline while on the road.
Socialtext Unplugged, developed in conjunction with U.K. software developer Osmosoft Ltd., aims to serve the occasionally disconnected. "It breaks a lot of people's assumptions about what a Web application can be," says Jeremy Ruston, the creator of TiddlyWiki and founder of Osmosoft. "It's a Web application that doesn't use a service."
Thus users can visit a Socialtext Unplugged page, edit it, and save it using only a Web browser. And upon re-establishing an Internet connection, changes can be synced to a server-based wiki.
Synchronization isn't a completely automated process, but that's by design. In situations where two offline workers enter conflicting changes, human intervention is necessary to figure out which should take precedence.
Ross Mayfield, CEO of Socialtext, believes a lot of enterprise Web services will gain offline functionality soon. "It's part of a broader trend," he says. "You'll see a lot of Enterprise 2.0 apps trying to develop offline capabilities. There's a challenge in doing so. Suddenly you have to support all sorts of platforms."
Socialtext claims some 2,000 enterprise customers ,including Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, IKEA, Kodak, Nokia, and Symantec.