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Collaborative Tools

August 12, 2009
A collaboration tool is something that helps people collaborate. The term is often used to mean collaborative software, but collaboration tools were being used before computers existed, a piece of paper can for example can be used as collaboration tool.
Everything that helps to solve a predefined task together in a group more easily is an effective collaborative tool. Collaboration means in this context working together to fulfill a shared, collective, bounded goal. Conference phone calls may be replaced by video conferences, IRC or Instant Messaging now. Peer Reviews of documentation are easier to establish through wikis than by iterative versions on paper. Whiteboards are partly imitated by Online whiteboards that allow telework.
Let us see some samples in collaboration tools:
1.) Application Sharing is an element of remote access, falling under the collaborative software umbrella, that enables two or more users to access a shared application or document from their respective computers simultaneously in real time. Generally, the shared application or document will be running on a host computer, and remote access to the shared content will be provided to other users by the host user.
Granting access:
Access is typically granted in one of two ways, depending on the architecture of the Application Sharing software.
1. If the software allows the shared content to be accessed from the web, the host user will usually define and provide a username/password combination to the remote users he/she wishes to grant access to; they can then enter the log-in information on the appropriate website and access the shared material. One example of software that features Application Sharing in this manner is Qnext.
2. If the software is required on both ends to access the shared content, granting access will be governed by the mechanisms of that particular software, but will usually require some sort of user authentication as well. One example of software that features Application Sharing in this manner is MSN Messenger.
Type of access:
Once the applications or documents to be shared and whom they are to be shared with have been determined, there are generally two types of access that can be granted to remote users.
1. Control Access ¬タモ the host user allows remote users to actually control, edit, and manipulate the shared content; most Application Sharing software allows the host to revoke Control Access at any time.
2. View Access ¬タモ the host user only allows remote users to passively view the shared content; remote users have no ability to edit or effect change in the shared content whatsoever.
There are two primary applications of Application Sharing, each contingent on the Type of Access granted.
1. Control Access ¬タモ this configuration is most widely used to facilitate collaboration by virtual teams. Team members can collaborate on the same document, making instantly apparent changes in real-time.
2. View Access ¬タモ this configuration is most suitable to a training scenario. The remote user (trainee) can passively view the actions of the host (trainer) without being able to interrupt or manipulate the shared content.
2.) Desktop sharing is a common name for technologies and products that allow remote access and remote collaboration on a person’s computer desktop through a graphical Terminal emulator.
The most common two scenarios for desktop sharing are:
Remote log-in
Real-time collaboration
Remote log-in allows users to connect to their own desktop while being physically away from their computer. Systems that support the X Window System, typically Unix-based ones, have this ability “built in”. Windows versions starting from Windows 2000 have a built-in solution for remote access as well in the form of Remote Desktop Protocol and prior to that in the form of Microsoft¬タルs NetMeeting.
The open source product VNC provides cross-platform solution for remote log-in.
The shortcoming of the above solutions are their inability to work outside of a single NAT environment. A number of commercial products overcome this restriction by tunneling the traffic through rendezvous servers.
Real-time collaboration is much a bigger area of desktop sharing use, and it has gained recent momentum as an important component of rich multimedia communications. Desktop sharing, when used in conjunction with other components of multimedia communications such as audio and video, creates the notion of virtual space where people can meet, socialize and work together. On the larger scale, this area is also referred as web conferencing.
The following are open source software Groupware applications:
Classic client-server solutions:
1. Access Grid for audio and video based collaboration
2. eGroupWare with support for native groupware clients (Kontact, Novell Evolution, Microsoft Outlook) and web interface
3. Group-Office
4. Kolab
5. LibreSource
7. phpGroupWare
8. Scalix
9. Zimbra
Web based solutions
1. Bricolage Content management system
2. Dot Net Nuke: module based, evolved from ASP 2.0 demo applications
3. eGroupWare
4. Group-Office
5. Horde
6. Open-Xchange
6. phpGroupWare
7. Simple Groupware
8. SlashCode Software that runs Slashdot
9. Zimbra
1. Alfresco (software) Enterprise Content-Management System: document
management, workflow, and portal
2. KnowledgeTree D.M.S: document management, workflow, portal
3. Nuxeo CPS: Content management and collaborative platform based on Zope
4. OpenKM Document Management System: document management
5. Nuxeo EP: Enterprise C.M.S: document management, workflow
6. ResourceSpace: Digital asset management
Peer-to-peer solutions :
1. Kerika: graphical wiki that combines white boarding and document management
Web based solutions
2. Chronopolys
3. dotProject
4. eGroupWare
5. Fle3
6. Group-Office
7. Horde
8. JavaForge a collaborative platform for Java projects
9. Mindquarry Includes document synchronization, a wiki and task management
10. phpGroupWare Includes a project collaboration module.
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