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Collaboration Tools

The USGS maintains a number of collaboration tools, each with their own pluses and minuses. Please add other options, opinions, concerns, and comments.

Online Meeting tools


Web Conferencing

 (red star) WebEx contract to be discontinued 12/31/2017 
See: Archive - Transitioning off of WebEx for new options

Professional/Profile/Personnel Pages

Email Archive

Polling & Surveys


Collaborative (Real-time) Wordprocessing


  • Definition: Web word processor that multiple people can edit simultaneously.
  • A USGS instance of EtherPad is available on the internal USGS network. This server can host any number of individual pads.
    • To create a new "pad",
    • If you want to set the url for a new "pad," append the pathname to the URL in the browser address bar.
    • For more information about Etherpad, visit the Etherpad site at
  • Known Issues
    • Create Team Site doesn't work - it's a DNS issue we are working to resolve  ; )<-- Status?
    • IE7 or earlier does not work
    • Doesn't work on iPad (read but cannot edit)

Document Management

Portals to share working and completed documents


  • Positives
    • AD authentication
    • relatively new implemention/newer tools and interface options
    • full text search of uploaded documents
    • Share protocols enabled (desktop-server interaction)
    • user interface reasonable
    • Part of the Microsoft Office universe (or is that a negative?)
    • Full support of versioning and check in / check out
  • Negatives
    • Not Internet available yet (USGS only)
    • new document area and user/group access requests have to be handled by management group
    • workflow design not user friendly
    • metadata customization not available to regular users
    • licensed software
    • Does USGS support infrastructure exist?


  • Positives
    • AD authentication
    • relatively new implemention/newer tools and interface options
    • full text search of uploaded documents
    • Share protocols enabled (desktop-server interaction)
    • WebDAV enabled
    • Google Gadgets available for user interface improvements
    • Internet accessible (allows non-USGS users)
    • Public space (document access to the Public)
  • Negatives
    • 508 compliance still being evaluated
    • licensed software (still trying to get open source agreement)


  • Positives
    • available, well known technology
    • no license costs
  • Negatives
    • flawed security model (actually, no real security model)
    • designed for document transfer, NOT document storage.
      Documents may be deleted with no notice (if no special arrangement made)

Content Management Systems

Tools to build web pages and information portal. 

Interesting article on Q&A forums

myUSGS Wiki (Confluence)

  • Positives
    • AD authentication
    • well known technology
    • lots of plugins
    • USGS templates available
    • Internet accessible (public access)
  • Negatives
    • typical wiki, can become a mess without significant oversight
    • licensed software

SharePoint Content Management System

  • Positives
    • AD authentication
    • Plugins
    • Microsoft Office integration
  • Negatives
    • not Internet accessible (USGS-sites only)
    • licensed software

NatWeb Drupal

  • Positives
    • available
    • well known technology
    • AD user authentication
    • group management by site manager
    • Internet accessible
    • USGS templates available
    • no license costs
    • replicated (3 geographically separated nodes)
  • Negatives
    • user training still under development
    • still evaluating performance


Data Repositories

ScienceBase Repository Project

Fedora Commons/Dspace

These two products merged. Fedora was a Cornell/UVA/DARAP project. MIT spin-off DuraSpace, and then the Dspace foundation built DSpace.

Related technologies and services:

Public collaboration instances

These are collected here so folks can look and see if there are interesting styles or functionalities within these instances that they want to see in our own platforms. Don't worry about what the technology behind the scenes is.

Knowledge Modeling & Representation

Concept Maps (Cmaps)

<-- Recommend deployment of a CmapServer service.  (D.Govoni - 3/4/11)

Concept maps are graphical tools for organizing and representing knowledge.

Jspwiki style: parrafo

Another knowledge representation/visualization/management methodology and tool (along the general lines of "The Brain"):

The Open University : KMi : Compendium

Related Activities

"Establishment of a formal, well-structured, and comprehensive Knowledge Management Framework (KMF) to organize, present, and preserve information and resources relevant to USGS scientific data integration and management – both resulting from, or referenced in the course of CDI projects – should be an essential component of the CDI effort.  Such a framework would provide a ready and essential base for the documentation of systems, tools, standards, processes, and practices which could be easily drawn upon in support of CDI-related community learning, training, technical support, and general communication efforts."

A 'Strawman' KMF model showing potential components & basic relationships is attached to this page.


While I understand from the look-and-feel of vs. confluence that there are differences, the text on these seems to imply that the wiki editor interface is the big difference. Am I not fully or misunderstanding the meaning of JSPWiki vs. xWiki vs. whatever?, 14-Jan-2011