I’m not the typical bile writer, but I’ve been working with Huddle these last few months, and there are some things I need to write down for the community to learn.
Huddle is a decent tool if you have low document management needs. Most people don’t have low needs.
Microsoft Office has become a lot better the last several releases. Since 2010, the integration with SharePoint has become the new standard and works near flawless. Opening a document from any location no longer requires you to navigate to that location thanks to the many Recent lists in the Open page.
Huddle does not integrate in this well-designed page. You cannot open a document from the “Recent” files page in Word/Excel/PowerPoint. There is an alternative: install the Huddle for Office plugin. This however, does not integrate into the Recent files page either, it merely adds a group in the Ribbon, which looks very basic:
I also don’t want to choose whether I want to read or write to the document. I’ll see that when I edit the document…
How many times haven’t I opened a document by browsing to the website, and opening the document read-only, not thinking I was going to change anything. Eventually, I ended up making changes anyway, and upon saving, I had no choice to save it back to Huddle. Even worse, the only way to save it back to Huddle was to save it locally, and upload it back to Huddle using the web page – which I had closed already before, so had to navigate all the way back there.
I cannot stress enough how frustrating it is to not be able to save to Huddle directly using the standard Office integration patterns. Whenever I want to create a new document, I keep saving it locally to upload it later. And yes, the Huddle for Office has a solution to this, but every time I hit CTRL+S, the Ribbon disappears and away goes my productivity to click on the Ribbon action “Save to Huddle”.
To lock or not to lock…
The times where SharePoint made itself unpopular because of forced check-in/check-out policies is long past us. Document co-authoring is the only way forward (for most use cases). Huddle hasn’t gotten that message yet. You cannot co-author documents and need to “lock to prevent changes” by others. And of course, people forget to unlock the file. If you use Huddle for Office however, upon closing the document or exiting the Office client, the file gets unlocked immediately. But still, not an example of productivity gain.
Even though not required for every use case, adding one or two extra fields to your documents would be handy. Not possible with Huddle. You only get the standard columns. Not such a big loss, but a loss nevertheless.
A Huddle workspace consists of 1 document library with folders among other tools. But the document library is just a simple tree structure. You have basic search possibilities, but that’s about it. You can’t filter on columns (from – to date), sort on multiple columns. Hey, you only have 1 column! Creating user-specific views is also out of the question. You do get a “grid” view, but instead of rendering previews, it just uses blunt icons, hence using more space without additional benefits:
Another user account? Yes, no integration with Active Directory. Or wait, yes there is, but you need to install OneLogin. So it is possible, but IT administrators will probably want to handle AD integration theirselves, rather than installing yet another product to do the trick.
Don’t be fooled by the pricing either. Yearly subscriptions ranging from € 12k to € 18k for government is a lot of money for this basic functionality. Compared to Office 365 and the cheapest SharePoint Online subscription (at € 4/user/month), you can get 375 users online with a total of 200 GB of storage.
I’m not doubting, and neither is our customer.