Online file sharing service Box.net made Webware’s list of the 100 best Web 2.0 applications for 2008 for three very good reasons.
The award's not for its file storage capability (there are other free or
low-cost backup and file storage options to challenge the modest amount
of space that Box.net offers). And not for the ability to access and share your stored files
online — although it’s worth noting that Box.net just
added iPhone access to its existing standard mobile access. Not even for the
user-friendly interface that feels comfortable from the moment you
first sign in…
What makes Box.net a winner is a powerful Web 2.0 trio:
- Its open API that lets outside developers write new applications to let you work in new ways with the files stored in your Box;
- the OpenBox platform, which connects data from Box.net to other web-based applications and services, and
Here’s how Box.net works:
Sign up for a Box.net account, login, and upload any documents,
spreadsheets, images or other files from your computer to your Box.
Organize your files in folders, just as you would on your computer, and
tag them. Access your files from any location, at any time, with any
web browser. Share a view-only link by email, IM or website, or invite
your colleagues and friends to collaborate.
So far, nothing out of the ordinary? But that’s just the start.
A variety of plugins (free right now, while the Box-Enabled Applications
directory is in beta) let you upload directly from popular software
like Microsoft Office, OpenOffice.org, Adobe Photoshop, and more.
There’s even a Firefox extension to let you synchronize your browser bookmarks.
Box.net works with trusted third-party services to do an incredible
variety of tasks with the files that you store in your online Box. You
can edit documents with Zoho, e-sign them with EchoSign and fax with
eFax, preview PDF files and Powerpoint presentations in your browser
window without having to download them, send files through Gmail and
Outlook, edit photos with Picnik and print them with Zazzle… and the list of services
goes on. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are included, and
blogging platforms like Wordpress, LiveJournal and Blogger.
The beauty is, you don’t have to upload your files to different
services and applications to make it happen: the files stay on Box.net
and the services come to them. One consistent version of each is out
there, shared, at any given time.
And when it comes to collaborating or web-publishing your files, you can
choose the method that suits your needs best:
Share a link or folder
with selected colleagues, share your files through Facebook, or let
your viewers subscribe to your folders’ RSS file feeds in their choice
of feedreader. (Each publicly shared folder and public Box in your
account has its own RSS feed that can be recognized by any reader that
supports RSS 2.0.)
Or, create a Box widget to embed on any website, blog, or social networking service that supports the common HTML embed code.
The Box widget lets you share files by publishing your photos,
documents, audio, or video in a user-friendly form — displayed in list or icon view. Any number of
widgets can be created (and customized) to serve up the contents of any
As you add new files to the associated folder, they will appear
in that widget automatically, on every web page where the widget is embedded.
You can even upload new content directly from the widget, without
having to visit the Box.net site!
Box.net’s Lite account (free) offers 1GB storage, with maximum file
size, 10GB/month bandwidth, and a few limitations (no password
protection on free accounts, for example). Full-featured upgrade accounts, with a 1GB
file size limit and no bandwidth restrictions, will cost $7.95/month (5GB
file storage space) or $19.95/month (15GB storage). A 14-day free trial is available.