updated 7/26/2006 7:16:42 PM ET 2006-07-26T23:16:42

A California startup wants to help people grow more comfortable with online collaboration tools known as wikis by making shared pages resemble spreadsheets, photo albums and other software they already use.

Wiki tools, which let users to create, modify and even delete what others in a group have worked on, have generally mimicked basic Web pages or word-processing documents.

Calendar entries, for instance, might get converted into a list, without the calendar-like presentation or information on the duration of appointments, both of which are found in such calendaring applications as Microsoft Corp.'s Outlook.

Photographs, meanwhile, might appear as a list of attachments, with no thumbnails previewing the image before downloading.

A new version of JotSpot Inc.'s wiki service, released Monday, lets people select from a number of formats: spreadsheet, calendar, files and photo album, in addition to the standard Web page or word-processing document.

"The problem has been that they've been too nerdy," said JotSpot chief executive Joe Kraus. "You can only do one kind of collaborating, what amounts to a (word-processing) document."

To encourage wider wiki use, JotSpot aims to "bridge the gap between what they've already been doing and what they can do," Kraus said. "People like to leverage habits they've already built up."

JotSpot currently has 30,000 paid users at about 2,000 companies using a service hosted on premise or at JotSpot. Kraus said about 10 times as many people use the free, JotSpot-hosted service, which restricts the number of pages and the size of the collaborating group.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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