Workgroup Web Forum:
Tools and applications for WWW-based group collaboration

Dah Ming Chiu, Digital Equipment Corporation
David Griffin, Digital Equipment Corporation

One of the most important technology trends in the past few years is the fast expansion of the Internet and the gaining popularity of the World Wide Web.

We believe that several specific strengths of the WWW make it very attractive a platform for developing collaborative applications (groupware), including:

At present, the WWW technology is also lacking in several areas, most notably:

We envision that the WWW technology has the potential to become the primary infrastructure for network computing. Despite the current limitations to the technology, we started working on building collaborative applications based on the WWW almost a year ago. Our forthcoming product is called the Workgroup Web Forum.

Workgroup Web Forum is both a set of collaborative applications as well as a toolkit for customizing and building additional applications.

Our toolkit is based on an object-oriented framework containing features complementary to the strengths of the existing technology. Some of the key features found in Web Forum are:

Examples of applications are:

The Web Forum applications are written using an extended version of Tcl scripting language [Ousterhout]. The use of an interpretive language makes the implementation easy to adapt, maintain and customize. The implementation of certain key components (e.g. database and search engine) of the toolkit, however, are written in C for better performance.