SmartBear today is doing for documents what it has done for code collaboration. With the release of Collaborator, SmartBear gives organizations the ability to share documents among developers, business analysts, project managers and more, for annotation and comment.

The company created CodeCollaborator years ago as software to facilitate peer code review. “It’s great for knowledge transfer, or to have a senior developer mentor a junior developer, and to ensure code is written for maintainability and evolution over time,” said Betty Zakheim, vice president of product strategy at SmartBear. Yet code review can be tedious, what with getting the code to reviewers, developers needing to find the time to do the review, deciding where to store comments, and all of this compounded by situations where developers are dispersed around the globe.

The same problems exist for document review, according to SmartBear senior product director Mark Hammer. Document review can involve long e-mail threads (and the forking of those threads), comments that can be and often are lost or ignored, and reviewers that can’t see each other’s comments. With the new Collaborator tool, which comprises the CodeCollaborator and PeerReview Complete products, organizations can give peer-review capabilities to the extended development team. Documents are centrally managed and threaded, and contextual chats allow for comment and acknowledgement in real time.

Peer review beyond developers can include technical writers, product and project management, business analysts, and QA, enabling such things as manuals, requirements, project plans, and test plans and results to be shared. Users can place pins on the document and comment on sections, but they cannot change the document; that is for the author only.

“Word documents or PDFs are uploaded into Collaborator, and it allows for large documents as well as individual pages,” Hammer explained.