Real-time collaboration through web applications: an introduction to the Toolkit for Web-based Interactive Collaborative Environments (TWICE)

Schmid, Oliver ; Lisowska Masson, Agnes ; Hirsbrunner, Béat

In: Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 2014, vol. 18, no. 5, p. 1201-1211

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    The widespread availability of personal mobile devices, combined with the increasing availability of stationary public devices such as large interactive displays, creates new opportunities for computer-supported collaborative work. In particular, these two factors enable the emergence of collaborative scenarios, whether planned or spontaneous, in any location, and previous obstacles to such collaborative settings such as limitations on the number of devices available for use and infrastructure costs can be overcome more easily. As hardware restrictions diminish, the need for software toolkits that simplify the development of distributed collaborative applications allowing for device heterogeneity, true multi-user interaction and spontaneous emergence increases. In this article, we describe the Toolkit for Web-based Interactive Collaborative Environments whose aim is to address these issues. This is done using current standard web technologies extended for real-time application (and structured using specific development guidelines) while ensuring compatibility with the manifold new evolutions in the currently ongoing development of open web platform (HTML5, websockets, etc). While our own work has mainly focused on synchronous co-located collaborative systems (same place/same time), our solution, the technologies used, as well as the concepts that are introduced are easily extendable for remote and/or asynchronous collaboration.