An Overview of Different Types of Collaboration Applications

4 min read Michael Carroll on Feb 15, 2023

The need for robust collaboration software has grown exponentially, especially with the emergence of remote teams and online learning. 

Creating these types of online collaboration tools shouldn’t be a frustrating task, but with so many options on the market, it can be difficult to determine which approach is the right one for your organization. 

That’s why we’ve detailed the most important elements of real-time collaboration applications to help you identify the best approach for building team collaboration software.

What are collaboration apps?

In a nutshell, collaboration apps enable multiple users to work together in the same virtual environment in real time. Whether through instant messaging, group chats, video calls, or document sharing, these types of applications allow users and team members from any location to interact simultaneously and improve task management. 

One of the main benefits is that they enable individuals to brainstorm, problem solve, and improve internal communication–all in real time– in order to achieve a common goal. 

Types of collaboration software

In most cases, collaboration software can be categorized as synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous tools give users the ability to collaborate concurrently. For example, multiple users can edit a document or file at the same time, in real time. Asynchronous tools are where communication is not occurring in real time. These types of collaboration tools enable teams to work on the same project, but at different times.   

The advantages of building collaboration apps are vast as they enable: 

  • Improved communication

  • Increased productivity

  • Easier document management

  • Streamlined workflow across multiple users/teams

  • Enhanced remote collaboration

What are examples of collaboration tools?

Are you looking to build a collaborative application, but aren’t quite sure how to get started? Read about these types of collaboration software and their key features to discover how your development team can implement online collaboration. 


Slack, one of the most popular messaging platforms, is primarily a communication tool used for professionals and teams. Their platform allows users to create public and private channels, edit and search through messages, share files, and allows you to enable numerous integrations (Dropbox, Jira) for improved efficiency.   


ClassDojo is a communication app for teachers, parents, and students to message and share images and videos. This collaboration app helps bring school communities together through virtual classroom management capabilities


Asana is project management software that’s great for teamwork. This app provides the ability to organize and view the status of work in one centralized place. With calendar and dashboard views, to-do lists, project templates, and custom fields, Asana helps teams streamline their priorities. 


Similar to Asana, is a project management tool used to streamline workflow by keeping all users in sync to boost productivity. They offer customizable dashboards for users to tailor based on their specific needs as well as CRM tools for sales teams to leverage. 


Adobe has grown to be one of the most well-known computer software companies for individuals and businesses to develop content, edit, share information, scan, or sign digital documents. Its collaborative functionality extends to a number of job functions including creativity and design, content management, marketing, and more for real-time multi user collaboration. 

Common features for collaborative work

These applications include many of the same key features to encourage workspace collaboration.

Here’s an overview of some of the most notable features included in team collaboration tools:

  • Real-time chat (text, voice, video conferencing)

  • Private and group messaging

  • Multi-user document synchronization 

  • File sharing

  • Notifications and reminders

  • User permissions

  • Virtual whiteboards

  • Calendar sharing

  • Time tracking

  • Notes and tasks lists

Considerations when building a collaboration app

Before building a collaboration app, you’ll first want to identify the specific requirements that will help make your product the best it can be. 

1. Define the problem you are trying to solve

What is the problem that your collaboration application is trying to solve? What’s unique about your collaboration app? Identifying what problems your app will be solving for before you jump right in will be advantageous in the long-term. 

2. Develop core collaboration features 

Building core and easy-to-use features such as in-app messaging, alerts/notifications, and multi user document collaboration is essential for delivering a great user experience. (Want a faster way to build these features? We can help!)

3. Take flexibility into account

When developing a collaborative application, having the option to easily adapt your product over time will help set you up for success down the road. Consider leveraging a custom collaboration solution that includes numerous SDKs, APIs, and the ability to add third-party integrations to provide you with the real-time functionality that fits your needs. 

4. Prioritize app security 

Protecting your collaboration platform against cyber attacks is paramount, as end users may share sensitive documents and information within your application. To ensure your collaboration app is safeguarded against vulnerabilities, messages/files must be encrypted and additional layers of security such as two-factor authentication and user permissions should be implemented.

5. Focus on reliability 

Imagine your users are working on a tight deadline and the app experiences an outage or severe lags are occurring. A real-time interactive provider with an edge messaging network that operates reliably and at any scale can do all the heavy lifting for you to ensure that these issues do not occur. 

6. Think long-term when it comes to costs

Arguably one of the biggest factors is pricing. You should take into account your budget, along with the continued value and regular maintenance needed to keep your app operating smoothly. If you want to build new or additional features, do you have the ability to do so without financial penalties? 

How to create a multi user collaboration platform

Whether you’re looking to create a collaborative app or incorporate additional real-time capabilities, a customizable platform like PubNub equips developers with the necessary tools for faster and easier deployment.   

Sign up for a free trial to see how easy it is to build a collaboration app.