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comp.groupware FAQ: Products2: Frequently Asked Questions

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Groupware FAQ

Feb 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/26/97

Archive-name: comp-groupware-faq/products2
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 1995.9.8
Version: 3.5
Copyright: 1989 - 1995 (C) David S. Stodolsky, PhD

Groupware Products - Part 2

Mac Groupware Yellow Pages
Updates and additions must go to:

This is from the "PRODUCTS" section from the the August edition of the
"Mac Groupware Yellow Pages". I limit this list to shipping products that
are commercially available to any buyer. It is missing a few of the other
meeting scheduling packages, I hope to have a better list of these in the
next edition. If you know of other Mac products that you think should be
on the list, let me know.

I am also starting to collect information on MS-DOS, Windows, and OS/2
groupware software packages, for a listing the PC Groupware Yellow Pages,
to be released mid-fall. If you are a publisher of a product in this
category, please send me a 50 word description, price, phone, fax, email
and postal addresses.

The electronic version of the "Groupware Yellow Pages" are free, and are
a public service of Consensus Development. I have previously offered to
fax or send a paper edition of the "Groupware Yellow Pages" for free,
however, the number of requests I've had are making this cost prohibitive
(in particular international requests.) I'll try to work out some type of
distribution policy for fax and paper copies of the "Groupware Yellow
Pages" in the next few months.


Copyright (c)1992 Consensus Development--All Rights Reserved.
Permission is granted to reproduce as long this notice is included.

*Aspects (Version 1.03) Aspects allows up to 16 people to work together
interactively whether they are in the same room or spread around the
world. Members of a work-group can bring documents from their own
Macintosh into the conference, everyone can see those documents on their
screen, anyone can make changes to them, and those changes are
immediately visible to everyone in the conference. Aspects has a complete
set of word processing, drawing, and painting tools built in. COST: $299
for a single user, $895 for 5 user pack. Group Technologies
(703)528-1555; f(703)528-3296 AL:Group.Tech AO:ReidLewis

*FirstClass (Version 2.0) FirstClass is an integrated email and
conferencing system with a graphical user interface(similar to America
Online or AppleLink.) FirstClass provides threaded conferences, unlimited
attachments, styled text in messages, a powerful search engine, and
gateways to other mail systems such as the Internet, Usenet News, and
CompuServe. FirstClass runs equally well over modem or AppleTalk network,
so employees on the road and customers can keep in touch. Non-Macintosh
users can access via the PC Interface Option. COST: 5 network users $395,
25 users $995, 100 dial-in only users $395, PC Interface Option $295, 4
additional modem ports $595, 4 modem ports with Hurdler card $896.
SoftArc Inc. (416) 299-4723; f(416) 754-1856; BBS (416) 609-2250
AL:CDA0674 AO:SoftArc

*Inforum (Version 1.0 ) Inforum assists office communications and the
decision making process.Unlike EMail, it facilitates the on-going
communication between members of the office by organizing, streamlining
and documenting the meeting process. With Inforum, people use their
computers to participate in on-going subjects from their desktop. It
enables them to participate when they want to and in the privacy of their
own office. COST: $495 for admin & 5 users, $245 for additional 5 users.
MacVONK USA (215) 660-0606; f(215)668-4360 AL:MacVONK.USA

*In/Out (Version 1.01 ) An electronic in/out board which allows users to
instantly know who is in or out, where they are, when they're returning,
and why they're gone. In/Out can also be used to track the availability
of company vehicles, conference rooms and other company resources. COST:
$299.95/10 user pack, $199.95/5 user pack. CE Software, Inc. (515)
224-1995; f(515)224-4534 AL:CESoftware AO: CESoftware CS:76136,2137 GE:CE.Software MCI:CESoftware

*Instant Update (Version 1.0) Instant Update fills a gap between word
processing and electronic mail. The gap exists because static word
processing files can't keep up with evolving information, and electronic
mail is not built to consolidate replies. Instant Update allows an
exchange of information within the context of a document. Everyone sees
everyone else's additions and changes. It eliminates many of the
time-consuming steps as you struggle to turn fast-changing information
into group decisions and actions. With a live document, you know you've
got the latest version, whether you open it at nine in the morning or
five in the afternoon. COST: $495 per two-user pack and $995 per
five-user pack. ON Technology (617) 876-0900; f(617) 876-0391
AL:ON.Marketing AO:OnTech

*Marco Polo (Version 2.0) Marco Polo is a group document management
system for archiving, retrieving and sharing documents. Reduce paper
clutter and manage your documents better. Quickly find and display all
documents relating to a given topic--even if they were created by
different applications. Marco Polo compresses and indexes documents to
facilitate rapid search and retrieval. COST: $395 per user. Mainstay
(818) 991-6540; f(818) 991-4587 AL:D0397 CN:Mainstay CS:76004,1525
GE:Mainstay MCI:284-4985

*MarkUp (Version 2.0) MarkUp enables one or more people to simultaneously
comment on a document electronically--even if they don't have the
application that created it. Reviewers make their marks on an overlay on
each page in the document. When they are done, just merge the their
overlays to combine comments. MarkUp provides tools to rewrite,correct,
manage, approve, and annotate documents using text, voice or QuickTime
video, as well as editing tools for free-standing text, pop-up notes,
highlite, strike out, lines, arrows, ovals, rectangles, and polygons, and
proofreaders' marks. COST: $195 per user. AL:D0397 CN:Mainstay
CS:76004,1525 GE:Mainstay MCI:284-4985

*Meeting Maker (Version 1.5 ) Meeting Maker is a network application that
helps you plan, schedule, and confirm meetings without leaving your
computer. You can schedule a time and date, select required guests,
reserve rooms and resources, and prepare agendas with co-workers. If
you're in a hurry, Meeting Maker's Auto-Pick feature will find the first
available time for all required attendees. The Proxy feature allows you
to designate other users to act on your behalf. Calendars can now be
exported to Sharp Wizard, Casio Boss, and HP-95LX personal organizers.
COST: $495 per five-user pack and $895 per ten-user pack. ON Technology
(617) 876-0900; f(617) 876-0391 AL:On.Marketing AO:OnTech

*Now Up-to-Date (Version 1.0.1) Now Up-to-Date is a calendar application
that lets individuals coordinate calendar events with their associates
over the network. Calendars can be moade up of a combination of both
Private & Public (shared) Events. Public events are stored both on the
server and on your Mac so you can access your calendar even when you're
not connected to the network. COST: $99 per user. Now Software (503)
274-2800; f(503)274-0670 AL:NowSoftware

*PacerForum (Version 1.01) PacerForum is a network conferencing product,
enabling members of a group to easily share ideas and coordinate
activities. As a conferencing tool, PacerForum can be used to plan a
project or to brainstorm on a problem, reducing the need for meetings. As
a bulletin board, it can be used to build and maintain collective lists
or to distribute information and files. COST: $549/5 user pack, $1995/25
user pack. Pacer Software (508)898-3300; f(508)366-1356 AL:Pacer

The current shipping version of PacerForum is 2.0. A 2.1 version will be
available shortly. The FAQ lists version 1.0.1.

Peter Coppola
Pacer Software, Inc.
(508) 898-3300

*PersonToPerson (Version 1.0) PersonToPerson mirrors "traditional" office
interactions. You can send voice messages across the network, you can
check an electronic In/Out board, and send 'Post-it Notes' to another
persons screen. You can also tracking appointments, send files, and
electronically chat with other users. Person-to-Person does not require a
file server or network administrator, and when using a PowerBook it will
delay sending of messages until re-connected to a network. COST: $149 for
2 user pack, $399 for 10 user pack, $699 for zone pack Asante
Technologies (800) 662-9686; (408) 752-8388; f(408)734-4864 AL:D2766 IN:

..Christopher Allen Consensus Development Corporation..
..<> 4104-24th Street #419..
.. San Francisco, CA 94114-3615..
.. o415/647-6383 f415/647-6384..
..Mosaic/World-Wide-Web Front Door: ..
.. ..

UNIX groupware applications
From: garf...@hpfcso.FC.HP.COM (Dan Garfinkel)
Subject: Re: Does groupware exist?
Date: 19 May 92 16:14:15 GMT
Organization: Hewlett-Packard, Fort Collins, CO, USA

There is an "application sharing" system available for HP workstations and
X terminals call HP SharedX. It allows multiple users to interact with X
based applications over wide area networks (including serial lines and ISDN)
as though they were in the same office. Only the "sender" of the application
need the HP SharedX software, "recievers" only need an X capable display.
A single user liscense lists for $495US with substantial discounts for multi-
user liscenses.

This system has been available for about a year and is in wide use in a few
companies, including within HP. A good write-up on SharedX (and some other
groupware applications) appears in a special issue of UnixWorld, called
Interoperability 1992, page 33-37 (published in May, I believe). Other
references on HP SharedX are available from me on request.

A groupware spreadsheet called eXclaim! is available for many Unix boxes.
It lets several people edit the same spreadsheet simultaneously, without
stepping on each others' toes. Please contact for more
info. (Twin Sun helped implement it, so I'm not unbiased.)

eXclaim!'s groupware features were built using a groupware software
toolkit called COeX, which is intended for use by software developers to
build their own groupware, either from scratch or by ``groupwarizing''
existing applications. Please contact for more info.

Try XTV, which "taps" the connection between the client and the server
and therefore doesn't require source, special libraries, customized
servers, etc. You'll find it on the R5 contrib-2 tape or it can be
FTP'd from

: Mark A. Feit, Software Engineer : Internet: :
: Engineering Research Associates : USENET: ...!uunet!era!feit :

From: (Terry Myerson)
Subject: Re: Experience with Communique from Insoft Inc. ?
Date: 15 Oct 92 15:59:38 GMT
Organization: North Carolina Supercomputing Center

ShowMe is specifically a shared shetckpad application. Shared X
allows user to share entire X sessions.

I prefer a public domain sketckpad to ShowMe, called Wscrawl.
Wscrawl is written by Brian Wilson of Apple Computer in his
free time.

I have placed binaries and source code for Wscrawl on the
International AVS Center anonymous ftp site :

ftp ( )
cd pub/wscrawl
ls :

sgi.wscrawl.Z SGI binary
hp.wscrawl.Z HP 700 binary
ibm.wscrawl.Z IBM RS 6000 binary
wscrawl.shar.Z Source Code
apple.wscrawl.Z AUX binary Paper on the sketchpad implementation
sun.wscrawl Sun binary

Likewise, we prefer a public domain shared X utility called XTV -
I can provide more info on this if someone requests it as well.
XTV runs on many different platforms. It is developed by
the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Subject: Re: Group editor for Suns
Date: Fri, 5 Feb 1993 02:09:36 PST

There's also a set of tools (group editor, sketch tool, etc.)from Xtel
services of Nottingham. They're a small company, but I believe their tools
are being used in the MICE project, so they might be available. Contact>

Sylvia Wilbur


Fri Feb 5 15:40:44 1993
Date: Fri, 5 Feb 1993 06:15:25 PST
From: Martin Beer <>
Subject: Re: Group editor for Suns

> >I am involved in a project of our psych dept in which the effectiveness of
> >business meetings in face-to-face vs. computer-mediated interaction will be
> >compared. They want to study joint document editing tasks in which all
> >participants can see and change the document, and communicate via a common
> >"talk" window.

> >Which CSCW software can you recommend for this purpose that run on Sun
> >Sparcstations (is it feasible to do it on IPCs)? The program should be
> >easily usable by computer novices.

The Andrew multimedia editor ez provides most of the functionality you require.

You can certainly concurrently edit documents, and there is a talk
feature somewhere.

It is reasonably easy to use, and customised applications can be built

It works well on Sparcstations.

Dr. Martin Beer,
Department of Computer Science, Telephone 051-794-3672
University of Liverpool, Fax: 051-794-3715
Chadwick Tower, P.O. Box 147, EMail
LIVERPOOL. L69 3BX. United Kingdom.


Also take a look at BBN/Slate from BBN (educational license around
US $100). For further details contact Pam Gazley (

J C McCarthy, V C Miles, A F Monk, "An Experimental Study in
Common Ground in Text-based Communication", in Proc. of CHI'91,
ACM Press,pp209-217, New Orleans, 28 Apr-2 May 1991.

Tony Plant | BNR Europe Ltd, Harlow, Essex, UK, CM17 9NA
(aka | Tel : +44 279 402109 (ESN 742 2109)


Date: Fri, 5 Feb 1993 07:45:00 PST
From: Paul Dourish <>
Subject: Re: Group editor for Suns
Organisation: Rank Xerox EuroPARC, Cambridge, UK
Phone: +44 223 341512

ShowMe is a shared paint-style program, rather than allowing text
editing. It provides a feature allowing bitmap images from elsewhere
on the screen to be captured and annotated, but only using paint


John Bazik: >window-sharing systems for X 4 Feb 93 16:38
In article <>,
Tom Brinck <> writes:
|> xmx: Obtain it from

Xmx works with *any* window manager, *any* X client(s) and *any* X server(s).

From: (Ellen Yu)
Newsgroups: comp.groupware
Subject: Re: Need software for brainstorming and problem solving.
Date: 15 Oct 92 13:40:48 GMT

We use VisionQuest from CTC here at the University of Maryland. We've used
parts of it in an academic setting and we've used it a lot for decision
making. I find it to be very flexible. There are 9 tools and I will try
to briefly describe their capability:

provides brainstorming capability. everyone basically can "talk"
at the same time by typing in their answers. A collective group
list is displayed in realtime. Part of each participant's screen
is their "private" area to type and the other part reflects the
groups answers.
comment cards
This tool is similar to brainwriting except that you provide topics
and then allow the participants to comment on them. This is a good
tool for getting feedback on things or gathering opinions.
This tool allows you to define the number of items you can pick from
a list. You define their significance (most important, most significant,
worst, etc.)
point allocation
You define the maximum number of "widgets" that can be allocated and
the participants allocate those among the given alternatives. This
can be used as $ in a budgeting exercise (as an example).
This is a multi-criteria tool. You define the criteria and weighting
and then the participants score (the scale is defined by you) based
on these criteria. The score is then normalized.
This is a yes, no, abstain tool. You get a count of number of yes,
number of no, and the number of abstain.
The participants rate all alternatives listed in this tool. You
set the rating scale and what it signifies. Group average is
You rank a list by physically moving items around in the list.
You set up categories and each participant puts each alternative
in the category they feel it belongs in. You get a frequency count
of how many people put each item in each category.

This is my attempt to describe the tools (I did not go and dig out the
manual and type what it says in the manual).

One of the most important features of this tool is that all input is ANONYMOUS.

All the input from one tool can be imported (with various filter capabilities)
to another exercise. All the people I've had use it love the tool. It
handles the anytime, anyplace scenario although we use it mostly in the
same time, same place scenario.

Yes, there are some things I don't like about it (in regards to the
user interface), but I must say the company has listened to our comments
and are working on changes. The basic functionality that this tool
provides is great.

It runs in DOS right now (or in a DOS session in Windows). They are currently
working on a Windows version.

This is a hard tool to try and describe (any groupware tool usually is).
You have to really "experience" it in order to understand how it works.

If you want more information on the product, you can call CTC at
(512) 794-8858.

No - I do not work for CTC - I'm just a satisfied customer.

I'd be happy to correspond through email in more detail with anyone who has
specific questions about VisionQuest.
Ellen Yu, AT&T Teaching Theater Phone: (301) 403-4623 office
Computer Science Center, Univ. of MD (301) 403-4628 Fax
4321 Hartwick Rd., Suite 500 Internet:
College Park, MD 20740 Compuserve: 71641,1764

From: (KWLyon)
Newsgroups: comp.groupware
Subject: Re: Group Decision Support Products?
Date: 18 Mar 1994 13:31:05 -0500

his product is simpler and easier to learn than GroupSystems, in my

From: (KWLyon)
Newsgroups: comp.groupware
Subject: Re: Can't Find VisionQuest from CTC or grapeVine
Date: 23 Mar 1995 00:50:03 -0500
Reply-To: (KWLyon)

Visionquest (the product) is now owned by
Intellect Corporation
3373 Towerwood Dr.
Dallas, TX 75234
I met the president, Phil Matthews, at Groupware '95 in Boson, and it
looks like we'll be seeing some serious marketing of Visionquest soon.

Kenneth W. Lyon & Associates
84 Saint Paul's Drive, Ventura, CA 93003
Phone: (805) 658-7547, Fax: (805) 658-2193

From: (Ellen Yu Borkowski)
Newsgroups: comp.groupware
Subject: Re: Can't Find VisionQuest from CTC or grapeVine
Date: 23 Mar 1995 11:54:51 -0500

If you are interested in the University Support Program, you should talk
Dwight Shetler. Dwight can be reached via e-mail at <>.

FYI - their Windows version is supposed to come out in April.

Ellen Yu Borkowski email:
Instructional Technology & Support Office: (301) 405-2922
Computer Science Center Fax: (301) 314-9198
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742-2411

Mac Brainstorming tools
From: (Warren Moseley)
Subject: Re: Need software for brainstorming and problem solving.
Date: 15 Oct 92 21:28:15 GMT
Organization: Texas Instruments

Check out two Macintosh tools. One is Fair Witness and the other is
Inspiration. I have used both of these tools to capture and display the
results of a JAD. I used these tools to scribe the JAD, and this allowed
interactive display of the results as we proceeded. Inspiriation is
excellent for Mind Maps. You can obtain more information about these
tools from the FAX FACTS line at MacWarehouse. I have used them both
successfully, and I am pleased with both. I dont work for either company.

Any more questions you can contact me at 214-995-1641

Fair Witness is put out by Chena Software, Inc. 905 Harrison Steet
Allentown, Pa. 18103. 215-770-1210.

Inspiration Software, Inc., POB 1629, Portland, OR 97207, USA.
Tel: 1 503 245 9011.

MORE, Euclid, and InControl also fit this category.
See excellent reviews in TidBits. (DSS)

From: bro...@aix00.csd.unsw.OZ.AU (Prof Cyril Brookes)
Subject: grapeVINE: Request for expressions of interest in research or pilots
Organization: University of New South Wales
Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1992 09:47:54 GMT

grapeVINE - A new "value-added" information sharing product for

Unix, OS/2 and VMS servers on standard LANs with
Windows, Macs, OS/2 workstations, and email terminals

grapeVINE is creating some of the first databases of soft information
discussions (ideas, opinions, news, suggestions, forecasts, problems,
etc. plus their assessments) as a by-product of normal business and
government agency professional and executive work. Research areas we
are starting to canvass using these databases are related to:

Improving issue escalation and the assessment process of news,
ideas, opinions, rumors, etc. in an organization

Linking related soft and hard information, in market intelligence,
technology awareness, account management, etc.

Incorporating soft information into EIS

Understanding the "cultural impact" of introducing information
sharing tools to different types of organization

Reducing repeated problem solving through better communication.

grapeVINE - Overview

grapeVINE is able to index, prioritize, selectively disseminate, and
store for retrieval a wide variety of information in text or document
form. In addition, it supports commenting and other forms of added-
value items such as ideas, opinions and rumors. A database with multi-
threaded links is created to associate related items.

Users maintain their own interest profiles, using keywords drawn from a
thesaurus that is also the basis of the indexing procedure. Item
importance is also used as a parameter for profile building and
selective distribution.

The information items that can be automatically "seeded" into grapeVINE
for classification and distribution include news, Internet items,
email messages, questions, rumors, graphics, spreadsheets, CD-ROM
documents, reports and forecasts. The comments and other items
originating direct from professionals using the system may include
assessments, suggestions and problems. Delivery, and commenting,
escalation, etc. can be by workstation or electronic mail.

grapeVINE operates as a client server system on Unix, OS/2, VMS servers,
with Windows, Macs, OS/2 clients across standard networks. The email
interface allows remote or unskilled users to have access. A VAX
mainframe version with vt100 terminals, with or without ALL-IN-1,is also

A multi-server capability selectively transfers items between LANS based
on common interests, avoiding the load impact of full replication, and
supports cross server alerting, discussions, and security.

In North America, please contact Dave Wilkie at:
Office Express Inc.,
PO Box 80646,
Atlanta, GA 30366-0646
Tel/Fax: (404) 977 3126

In Australia, please contact Cyril Brookes at:
Institute of Information Techonology, University of NSW
Level 15, Tower 1
Bondi Junction Plaza, 2022
Tel: +61 2 389 4800
Fax: +61 2 387 8585

EQUITY from ICL. It is commonly used for a variety of resource allocation
problems in decision conferencing.

Groupware toolkit
Subject: Re: If you use/develop a groupware toolkit, read this (please)!
Date: 8 Mar 94 17:41:58

You can do anonymous ftp of GroupIE-related papers from

The file 1STREAD.ME contains the references. You would probably
want to look at CSCWWS91, HCI91, ECSCW91, ECSCW93.

However, these papers are not very up-to-date. I am currently
working on a chapter on GroupIE for a book but this will take
some time.

GroupIE and GroupIT are implementations that have been done as
part of my PhD thesis in order to validate new concepts for supporting
distributed teamwork. The software is fully functional but not a product,
especially as far as documentation and user-friendlyness is concerned.

We used GroupIE and GroupIT within project NESTOR to support teamwork
between authors and learners in computer-aided learning. The software,
however, is generic i.e. adaptable to various application domains.

GroupIT (Group Interaction Tool) is an object-oriented graphical
multi-user editor with integrated email functionality. It stands out
for its flexible selection of interaction characteristics.

GroupIE (Group Interaction Environment) is a complete development and
runtime support system for CSCW applications. It is based on a
comprehensive model of distributed teamwork along the aspects of
interaction and coordination.

The software runs on Ultrix DECstations with TCP/IP on top of a
distribution extension to Smalltalk-80 that we wrote.

The model and the system are described in my dissertation
`Tom Ruedebusch, CSCW - Generische Unterstuetzung von Teamarbeit in
verteilten DV-Systemen, DUV (Gabler, Vieweg, Westdeutscher Verlag),
Wiesbaden, 1993, ISBN 3-8244-2043-0' but this book is in german...


PS: A new article describes the use of GroupIE for cooperation support
in computer-aided authoring and learning and will be published in the
proceedings of ED-MEDIA 94 in Vancouver, Canada.
Dr. Tom Ruedebusch Tel: +49-721-608-4046
Telematics - Telecooperation Fax: +49-721-388097
Department of Computer Science
University of Karlsruhe
D-76128 Karlsruhe, Germany

Subject: Re: If you use/develop a groupware toolkit, read
Date: 9 Mar 1994 18:11:25 GMT

Another excellent product for the unix environment (Sun/Openwindows is where
I have used it) is KMS from Knowledge Management Systems. They are located
in the Pittsburgh PA area, but I don't have an address.

KMS is an extremely powerful distributed hypermedia system which has an
excellent toolset of basic functions from which users can create application
specific tools and processes.
-> Note I am not at all associated with the company, just an extremely
satisfied (unfortunately former) user.

Mike Stoughton ... who does not speak for Sverdrup Technology, Inc

From: (Bill Janssen)
Subject: ILU 1.8 now available
Date: 6 Mar 1995 17:13:55 +0200

The 1.8 release of the Inter-Language Unification (ILU) system is now
available via ILU is a
multi-language distributed object system that Xerox is making freely
available. It can also be used to build multi-lingual object-oriented
libraries ("class libraries") with well-specified language-independent
interfaces. It can also be used to implement RPC systems. It can
also be used to define and document interfaces in non-distributed
programs. It also provides support for use of the OMG CORBA IDL
interface description language, and can be thought of as a CORBA ORB
system (though with omissions from and extensions to the CORBA spec).
It includes a self-contained implementation of ONC RPC.

This release of ILU contains support for ANSI C, C++, Modula-3,
Python, and Common Lisp. It has been installed on many flavors of
UNIX, including SPARC machines running SunOS 4.1.3 and Solaris 2, SGI
machines running IRIX 5.2, Linux 1.78, DEC Alpha with OSF/1, RS/6000
w/AIX, and HP/UX. It supports both threaded and non-threaded

Natural Language Processing Based Group Decision Support
From: (
Newsgroups: comp.groupware,comp.infosystems
Subject: Re: groupware + infosystems: any thoughts?
Date: 6 May 1994 16:33:37 GMT

I developed a brainstorming program which enables participants to query
data and knowledge bases via English sentences. The system then posts the
answers in the comment stream. Studies have shown replies are faster and
more accurate than if a human searched for the answers. Also, some
participants believed this "intelligent agent" was actually a human posting
the answers.

For more information:
1. "Knowledge-based Information Retrieval for Group Decision Support
Systems," M. Aiken & C. Govindarajulu, Journal of Database
Management, 5(1) Winter 1994, 31-35.
2. "A Natural Language Processing Based Group Decision Support
System," S. Conlon, B. Reithel, M. Aiken, & A. Shirani,
Decision Support Systems, in press.

--- Milam Aiken
Univ of Mississippi

Date: 7 Feb 92 02:51:08 GMT

We're pleased to announce the first release of the ConversationBuilder
environment, a tool we've been building for `active'support of collaborative
work. A copy of the release announcement is enclosed. If you would be
interested in obtaining a copy of the system, or discussing the system or
related issues, please dont hesitate to contact me.

Release Announcement

ConversationBuilder v 2.0
An open environment for "collaborative process support"

ConversationBuilder Group
Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

For more information, contact:

Simon Kaplan
Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
1304 W. Springfield Avenue,
IL 61801,

fax: +1 217 333 3501
phone: +1 217 244 0392

0. Brief Summary

ConversationBuilder (CB) is an "open architecture" for the construction of
collaborative systems. Rather than providing specific collaboration
models, it provides a family of mechanisms which can be used to construct
specific collaboration models (which we call protocols). We have used CB
to define several protocols, including:

- A simple IBIS model
- A Negotiation model, based on CHAOS, which in turn is based on
- Code Inspection support
- Software Process support
- Collaborative document and code development support
- A host of smaller auxiliary protocols which are used in many of the

Some of these protocols are quite robust and in daily use; others are
experimental. Some were developed purely as demos; still other protocols are
under development.

The CB release includes several tools which can be used in a collaborative
environment, or independently, including the CB server, Message Bus for tool
interconnection, Widget Server for controlling and building user interfaces,
Graph browser for hypertext browsing, and Epoch editor for text display and
editing. Other tools, such as a shared drawing tool, will be released in the
near future. The CB system has been designed to be open, so that other tools
can be integrated with relative ease. (Brief descriptions of all these tools
are included at the end of this document).

The "products" of our research cover a wide spectrum of interests, including

- collaborative work (groupware?) systems
- hypertext systems
- tools for tool UI integration (widget server); allowing multiple
tools to cooperatively and dynamically build and share a common
user interface
- support for inter-tool communication; an
extension of the message server concept in field and softbench.
- some work in the area of active-object persistent object storage.
- multi-window, multifont text editors (epoch)

Portions of CB could be of interest to people in any of these communities;
we expect the system as a whole will be of interest to people in the CSCW,
groupware, hypertext, (software) process modeling and related areas.

CB is actually used at Illinois by our group to maintain itself as well as for
other activities such as writing papers (i.e supporting the "real work" of
research groups :-).

1. System Requirements

We have tried to ensure that the CB system runs on as many variants of Un*x as
possible. It is run regularly on Sun, HP and NeXT; it has been run on IBM
RS/6000's and 386 and 486 boxes under SysV/3.2 also. It would (probably) run
under SYSV.4 if you could find an appropriate Common Lisp.

CB runs using a client-server model. The server is written in CLOS, and needs
a fairly substantial machine (a sparc I+ with enough memory (> 24 meg if this
is the only application on it) should be ok. The clients (user interface
clients) are all written in C and are fairly small. A 16meg machine should be
more than adequate for the user interface part.

The components, and their requirements are listed below:

CB Server Comon Lisp with CLOS to at least PCL Mayday Rev 4b (ie
latest version)

Any version of Allegro CL from 3.1 seems to be OK
(4.0 or better is preferred as it includes a native

AKCL and CMU Common Lisp with the latest PCL seem OK

Lucid lisp is almost certainly OK, but we dont have it, so we
havent tried it. I'd expect it would work with the usual minor
porting hack problems.

Graph Browser X11R4 or newer, Motif 1.1

Widget Server X11R4 or newer, Motif 1.1

Message Bus C

Epoch 4.0 or newer, depends on C and X11R4 (actually epoch will
work on X11R3, but as the rest of the system doesnt, this is

Space requirements for a complete installation will be at least 60 meg.
(including epoch). Most of this can be cleaned away after installation, down
to around 20 meg. Thereafter your usage will grow as the CB database gets

2. Getting CB

Some portions of CB are freely available: Epoch (under GNU license) and the
message bus and widget server (under X11-type license).

The CB server itself, which is needed for exploitation of the collaboration,
hypertext and persistent storage features of CB, is distributed under a more
restrictive license and is only available to members of the ConverationBuilder
consortium. Membership in the consortium is free for Universities. Other
organizations should contact Simon Kaplan for information.

Once you've joined the consortium and signed the CB license agreement,
we'll give you a login so that you can FTP the restricted parts of the CB
system. The unrestricted parts will be available from your login as well,
but will also be available for anonymous FTP from For those who
do not have ftp access, we can arrange to send a tape (streamer, reel or

To obtain more information about joining the ConversationBuilder consortium
contact Simon Kaplan

3. Here is a very brief capsule of the functionality of the major CB

CB Engine: Provides collaboration control, access control, hypertext
and persistent object storage facilities.

Message Bus: Allows tools to interconnect and send messages to each other.
can be used independently of all the other tools; arbitrary new
tools can be connected to it and communicate assuming they "speak"
the message bus syntax.

Widget Server: Builds user interfaces in response to UI expressions sent over
the message bus. Can be used in applications other than CB, with
the message bus. Provides a high-level way of describing and
evolving user interfaces as applications run. The widget server
can callback to applications using the message bus in response
to user input events.

Graph Browser: Displays arbitrary graphs sent to it over the message bus.
supports callback to other applications over the bus.

Epoch: Emacs extended to be "better integrated" into X11. Supports
multiple X windows, colors, proportional fonts, read-only regions,
zones (buttons in buffers, including graphical buttons). Can be
used independently of any other CB component (and often is).

Virtual Notebook System and OpenMind
From: peter@wyrms (Peter J. Spellman)
Newsgroups: comp.groupware
Subject: Re: Virtual Notebook System
Date: 6 Jul 1994 15:02:29 GMT

The company is called the ForeFront Group:

1360 Post Oak Boulevard, Suite 1660, Houston, Texas 77056
Phone: (713) 691-1101 Fax: (713) 961-1149

I would ask for Sara Robinson; I have personally worked with her and she
is pleasant and helpful.

VNS runs a server on a Unix (Ultrix, AIX, IRIS, NEWS-OS, SunOS) box,
and clients under Unix with X Windows (DECwindows window manager, NCD's
ncdwm, Solbourne's swm, Sun's OpenWindows, twm, or mwm), MS-DOS +
Windows, and Apple Macintosh. Data is stored in a database: ndbm,
Sybase SQL Server, or Ingres.

From: (Shri)
Newsgroups: comp.groupware
Subject: Re: DCA OpenMind
Date: 7 Apr 1995 00:01:41 GMT

DavidC121 wrote in comp.groupware
: I think OpenMind is in the same "groupware" category as the Forefront
: group's Virtual Notebook, but I think DCA sold the product recently to
: Attachmate!

DCA merged with Attachmate :-)... Thats the official word on the streets.

Shriram Chaubal
Attachmate (Hong Kong) Ltd
e:mail:- and


David S. Stodolsky Euromath Center University of Copenhagen Tel.: +45 38 33 03 30 Fax: +45 38 33 88 80 (C)

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