Review: The good, the bad and the ugly of Facebook apps

Today's hottest social networking site includes thousands of free applications. Here are the best and worst for business, blogging and more.

Best productivity apps

A case can be made that Facebook is one of the greatest productivity-sappers of all time -- but in fact, there are also a handful of applications that can help you in your work. Here are some of the best. Although some of these apps exist outside of Facebook, integrating them all into your Facebook profile means they're collected in one place -- useful if you spend a lot of time on Facebook already.

Wiki mono
Wikis, the underlying technology that run Wikipedia, can be exceedingly useful tools for sharing information. Corporations can use them to capture the shared knowledge inside a company; individuals can use them for anything from planning trips with friends to creating family Web sites.

Creating a wiki isn't particularly easy, but Wiki mono lets you create them within Facebook without knowing a stitch of HTML or coding, then lets you share them with other Facebook users.

Zoho Online Office Suite
Zoho is one of the better online productivity suites, complete with word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software and database. This Facebook app taps into your existing Zoho account, or you can set up a new account from inside the app.

It links to all of your Zoho documents and also lets you cooperatively work on the documents with other Facebook users. As with your normal Zoho account, you can choose which documents to keep private and which to share.

ThinkFree Docs
Here's another online productivity suite, similar to Zoho, with the added benefit of a whopping 1GB of online storage for your documents. It works much like Zoho, so you can choose which you like better.

Be aware, though, that unlike the Zoho app, the ThinkFree Docs app will make all of the documents you upload available to anyone on Facebook; there's no way to earmark certain documents as private.

Files
Want to make sure you have access to important files wherever you are? This Facebook app lets you upload files to a Box.net online storage account, so you can get at them wherever you are.

Essentially, it's just a front end to the free Box.net service, so you can just as easily get access to the files by heading to www.box.net. But if you live in Facebook, it's useful.

Best blogging and news apps

Facebook excels at using the collective intelligence of your friends to help you find useful and entertaining blogs, news and information. Here are applications that get it done.

Blog Friends
If you've got friends who blog (and who doesn't?) you'll find this application quite useful. It displays your friends' blog entries, in addition to other blogs based on your interests, right on your profile page.

How does it work? Anybody who signs up for the app can provide the URL(s) for one or more blogs that they write and want their friends to see. Whenever they add an entry to one of these blogs, Blog Friends shows it on their friends' Facebook pages. In addition, the app shows you blog entries from friends of your friends.

LeapTag
This clever Facebook blog reader learns from your likes and dislikes and then finds blogs and news based on them. You can then share those blogs with your friends who use the app, and have them share them with you.

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Preston Gralla

Computerworld
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