As the end of the quarter nears, 20 people might be collaborating on a single spreadsheet, making additions and changes. But who did what, and when? BoardwalkTech's Boardwalk Communicator was designed to answer that question.
Boardwalk Communicator is a simpler version of Boardwalk's enterprise product, which appears to users as Excel, with a chat window on the right-hand side of the screen. Behind the scenes, however, is a cloud-based database that follows and tracks changes at the per-cell level.
Boardwalk executives say that its software's advantage is that shared files, such as those used by Google Apps, simply track changes on a per-file basis. Users actively working on a non-Boardwalk spreadsheet can "see" which cells are being worked on by which users, but that's as far as it goes.
"So the issue is that there is no history at the cell level. It's a persistency problem," said Andrew Duncan, the chief executive of Boardwalk, in an interview.
Essentially, Boardwalk turns each cell into a SQL object, and the software tracks changes over time. Users can click on a cell or range of cells, and pull up a separate worksheet seeing what changes have been made to them. It also allows workers to go offline, make their changes, and then "check them in"--the way workers prefer to work, Duncan said.
According to Duncan, Boardwalk Communicator is a simple solution to complex problems: multi-user collaboration on Excel spreadsheets, providing documentation in case of security audits, or the need to quickly make edits in the case of conditions that force a change.
Boardwalk Communicator is free for up to five users with pricing for additional users starting at $10 per month, the company said.