However, the service fell short as our test project size grew. Once they contain 50 or more tasks, projects become unwieldy to manage using PBwiki.
PBwiki lets users create pages and folders via a rich text editor, although links between pages and folders are created manually. Three levels of page access easily can be assigned: Reader (with read-only privileges), Writer (read/write privileges), and Editor (read/write/edit privileges). Folders have a fourth level: Administrator.
Security will be difficult to manage for all but the smallest projects. For example, if a project has eight team members, PBwiki suggests creating a folder for each member. If each team member creates five folders with a dozen or more pages, we could have hundreds of security settings in the wiki. In a legal action, this complexity could be a significant problem.
PBwiki does provide communications security. At appropriate times, we noted that the links were safeguarded with Secure HTTP. In tests, an external member whose access to a page was restricted couldn't change that page.
Project management with PBwiki is mainly a manual effort. Unless you add them, there's no Gantt chart or calendar that gets populated as you add deadlines. If you want to track costs, you'll need to do it separately with a spreadsheet. Also, to give access to the spreadsheet to all key managers, you'll need to link them individually.
Tracking progress on a project is also a manual process. There are no task dependencies, making it difficult to set priorities and determine that Task A must be completed before Task B.
PBwiki suggests this reduces a manager's workload, but it's a significant amount of manipulation for all but the smallest projects and adds to the complexity of security. Such progress could be tracked in a shared spreadsheet or table, but the same access issues would arise. PBwiki says future upgrades will let pages and folders be grouped in order to apply access controls.
Business-level collaboration almost always involves some form of audio- or videoconferencing. However, PBwiki lacks conferencing of any kind. In contrast, Central Desktop has links to Skype and FreeConferenceCall.com.
Pricing is based on the number of users. A restricted version of the service, free for as many as three users, is designed primarily for personal use. For four to 999 users, the fee is $8 per user per month.
Phil Hippensteel is an assistant professor of information systems at Penn State University and an industry consultant.