Dropbox Paper adds timelines for team project planning

The collaborative word processing tool is designed to provide light-weight team coordination functions and highlights efforts by Dropbox to diversify beyond content storage.

Dropbox has brought project planning capabilities to its collaborative word processing tool, Paper, with the addition of a new timeline feature.

Paper was unveiled in 2015 as Dropboxaimed to expand its cloud document storage business. The cloud tool - which competes with Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Quip, Box Notes and others - lets users work together on the creation of rich-text documents and embed content such as YouTube videos.

According to Dropbox, users find Paper useful for coordinating work, too. This is due, in part, to features such as embeddable to-do lists, @mentions and due dates for team members. 

Timelines further enhances these capabilities, Dropbox said in a blog post. This involves mapping out each step of a project and keeping team members up to date on progress.

Tasks can be assigned to keep track of individual responsibilities, while project milestones highlight looming deadlines. Users can add notes and links to supporting documents and timelines can be customized and color-coded. It is also possible to zoom in to a “week” view or a broader year-long view. 

The lightweight project management capabilities show how Paper is evolving to help teams get work done without switching apps, said Wayne Kurtzman, a research director at IDC. It also highlights ongoing moves by Dropbox to diversify its core content storage business.

Combined with other recent functionality upgrades made to Paper, Dropbox is starting to challenge how you think about them: Its not just a place to store files, but a place to manage other elements of work,he said. 

While not robust enough for most development teams, the Dropbox Paper planner covers the bases nicely for most users and use cases,” he said.

A number of vendors offer project-planning capabilities, from dedicated roadmap tools such as Aha! and Roadmunk to Jira Software, which recently added a similar roadmaps feature to its task management app for software developers. Others such as Trello and Asana provide simple kanban-style project management functionality.

Collaboration tools do (and will continue to) overlap in features,said Larry Cannell.The best fit for a team depends on what drives them. Many (perhaps most) are conversation-driven, with content and coordination features still needed. Others are task driven, so a task manager is the primary collaborative element.

For groups already using Dropbox Paper, timeline could be a valuable addition to their collaboration toolkit,” Cannell said.

Other recent additions to Paper include integrations with the Adobe XD CC prototyping tool, as well as live document previews of Dropbox files from within Paper.

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