YouFig is a free social platform for collaboration that just entered public beta.
During its closed beta period, which started in January, it saw activity in over sixty communities including one used by an internal Cisco team. While there are a number of similar (and more feature complete) competitors already available, YouFig hopes to set itself apart by emphasizing security and an improved social networking experience.
YouFig centers on small, quick widgets that can be manipulated in realtime alongside a user list and chat window. So far the site’s widgets include editable documents, file downloads, and games.
YouFig’s API allows developers to design their own widgets, which can be used on and off the site. While it’s good that there’s an API, YouFig is currently notably lacking in several features that can already be found on competitors’ sites, such as spreadsheets and calendars (though both, we’re told, will be implemented soon).
In catering toward large corporations and universities, YouFig has included support for a matchmaking system that analyzes usage behavior and recommends possible co-workers for collaboration. They have placed a heavy emphasis on privacy and security, using proxies to help secure widgets that interact with external sites such as YouTube.
In practice, the site’s widgets seem to work well, though it is difficult to tell how useful they will be in a work environment – many may choose to use more robust editors like those included on Google Documents. That said, the community features have been thought through and the site’s accessible design could help it gain a following outside of the corporate world.