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Shared Workspaces for Real-Time Collaboration in Distributed Networks: Concepts, Techniques, Problems,
NORTH CAROLINA UNIV AT CHAPEL HILL DEPT OF COMPUTER SCIENCE
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Until recently, computer-based collaboration between geographically dispersed users has been limited primarily to electronic mail and file transfer. There is an increasing interest in computer support for real-time interaction between such users. The main goal of this research is to enable users to remotely share and operate simultaneously on objects contained in a workspace. Examples of objects are textfiles, graphs, or images. All participants have identical views of the objects. Users manipulate and operate on the objects using appropriate tools. For example, an appropriate tool for operating on a textfile is a text editor. The basic entities of our model users, objects and tools, may reside at arbitrary sites of a computer network. Users who wish to collaborate and share a workspace will form a session. For each session, a process called the session server regulates access to workspace objects efficiently and fairly. All session servers of a given machine are interfaced to a process called the communications server. The communications server is responsible for connecting users and moving objects between different machines. The authors have implemented a prototype system of remote shared workspaces where objects are restricted to be textfiles, and tools can only accept input from keyboards. Their approach differs from other collaborative tools in the they offer a general purpose utility that converts and single-user tool into one that can be used for real-time collaboration among several remote users.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE