Probably not many of you develope desktop applications - but I hope this general idea can be applied in other areas as well.

It is about providing context for collaboration. Imagine editing a document with annotations from some of your colleague's, you'd like to discuss one of them. You find his number and call him. You talk about the document, he finaly gets a grasp what was it, but does not have it on his drive. You sent the document, he opens it, you direct him to the page and paragraph and finally he has all the information to talk about his annotation. This is whole lot of steps involved. Now imagine the editor was integrated with some Instant Messaging client. The annotation would be signed with your collegue IM address. You click the address and you connect to your colleague. He sees your invitation, accepts it and the document is automatically transfered to his computer and opened with cursor set in the same place as in your copy. Isn't this more user friendly?

The scenario was taken from: Collaboration in Context

I have some vague thought that this could be done with wiki and the mozilla IM client.

Update: I spoiled this. This should be about editing code.

janitored by ybiC: Prepend "(OT)" to title

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: (OT) Collaboration in Context
by Abigail-II (Bishop) on Nov 18, 2003 at 10:26 UTC
    Isn't this more user friendly?

    No. Anything that I have to edit that isn't done in my favourite editor, with my own customization isn't user friendly at all. I don't see the gain anyway. In my editor to get to a specific line number, all I need to do is type in the line number and a capital G - or just give the line number as an argument when starting the editing session.


      How about starting your own locally configured editor? It's not that difficult - you've set the $EDITOR variable, did you?

      Relax - this meditation was not for immediate consumption, it was for inspiring your imagination.

Re: (OT) Collaboration in Context
by elusion (Curate) on Nov 18, 2003 at 20:27 UTC
    You may be interested in taking a look at SubEthaEdit. It's a Mac OS X-only application, but it's an interesting design. Basically, it uses OS X's zeroconf rendezvous communication to allow concurrent editing of documents over a network. You can see the changes that others are making and continue to make changes yourself.

    One of the cited uses is pair programming. Instead of stuffing two people in front of one computer, you can give each of them their own computer and sit them next to each other. I've never used it, but it looks interesting enough.

Re: (OT) Collaboration in Context
by jdtoronto (Prior) on Nov 18, 2003 at 18:16 UTC
    Hmmmm, sounds like a bit of a time waster to me!

    A colleague had me help him with a project for his company a few weeks back. He works in a legal practice and management were concerned that the effective output of opinions (the bread and butter of this firm) was falling rapidly over the last three years. The practice manager had done a sampling of all the opinions written over three years and decided that they were no more or less difficult to research and produce now than three years ago.

    They had a hunch about what was going on. So using a network sniffer we monitored the amount of traffic used by IM systems. It was amazing! One day IT had a huge problem the router and firewalls happened to start blocking all the IM ports, IRC ports, P2P ports and some IP's belongong to large download sites.

    By the end of the week the output of opinions (measured in sheer text volume) was back to only 15% lower than it was three years ago.

    They also found that the consumption of CD-R media dropped to 31% of that in the previous week. See, no-one was downloading stuff on the firms bandwidth and time, and then writing it to CD to take home!

    Next thing is how to stop the personal emails and unnecessary internal emailing. Then they should be back to just where things were before everybody got net access.


    The two greatest executive timewasters - Spreadsheet prgrammes and Instant Messaging.

Re: (OT) Collaboration in Context
by theorbtwo (Prior) on Nov 18, 2003 at 18:24 UTC

    Well, I think this is mostly already possible. Things aren't well-integrated, but I can see how you'd want to archetecture it. AOL's official AIM client, at least under windows, registers a goim: URL scheme, which you can use to make a hyperlink to an AIM screenname. Consider the same thing, extended to allow for more services, perhaps converse:service/userid, allowing links converse:aim/theorbtwo, converse:icq/1923898, converse:msn/, and converse:yahoo/theorbtwo.

    That solves the problem of linking to a conversation with the author of an annotation. Now, consider linking to a specified position in the document. That's easy. It's what the # bit in a hyperlink is for (the fragment identifier). OLE supports a concept called "monkiers" for linking to specific points in a document, if it doesn't allow for hash-links then that's a bug, or at least a should-be-easy wishlist. I suspect other similar systems, such as COBRA and XPCOM support a similar concept.

    So, you need to get the editor (which already supports annotations) to have a "hand me a link to the current position in the current document". This link needs to be in some sort of standard form, understandable by any editor that handles the document type (handling abigail-ii's objection).

    This does require more human interaction then your usecase, but it's more clear how you'd archetecture this solution.

    Warning: Unless otherwise stated, code is untested. Do not use without understanding. Code is posted in the hopes it is useful, but without warranty. All copyrights are relinquished into the public domain unless otherwise stated. I am not an angel. I am capable of error, and err on a fairly regular basis. If I made a mistake, please let me know (such as by replying to this node).

      This link needs to be in some sort of standard form, understandable by any editor that handles the document type (handling abigail-ii's objection).
      I think there can be a local wrapper that would translate a generic form to one understanded by the editor.