Zakim Feature Alternatives
See also: WebExBestPractices
The W3C Zakim teleconference bridge and irc bot together provide a teleconferencing environment that is closely integrated into W3C infrastructure. The Zakim bridge hardware itself is lacking some features that are of increasing importance; specifically VoIP (SIP) connections and local access from outside the US.
As we contemplate moving to a new generation of teleconferencing/collaboration services it is useful to enumerate the features most often used in the Zakim environment and identify which components need support from the teleconferencing service itself.
Features provided exclusively by the irc bot
The verbs associated with floor control and agenda management are independent of the specific teleconference service itself and can be used in any meeting, including in-person meetings where no teleconference exists:
Zakim will help track a queue of participants wishing to speak.
q+, queue+ q-, queue- q? queue? queue= ack, recognize close the queue [re]open the queue give <name> the last word allow speakers <n> minutes stop timing ignore the queue track the queue
One feature in this set provides additional function when the bot has access to the teleconference service: if the participant's connection is muted,
ack will attempt to unmute the connection.
Zakim will help track agenda items requested while a meeting is in progress.
agenda+ agenda-, item-, drop agendum, forget agendum agenda?, list the agenda agenda <n> = <text> agenda order take up agendum move to agendum current agendum? close agendum skip agendum allow this agendum <n> minutes clear the agenda read agenda save agenda remind ignore the agenda track the agenda
Features provided exclusively by the hardware
The following key sequences are processed by the bridge directly with no intervention from or communication with the bot:
61# 60# *0
The (DTMF) keycodes to mute, unmute, and call an operator are features of the particular teleconference system.
As provided by the teleconference system. Some systems provide muting functions only via a Web interface and rely on local mute buttons on the user's device.
Features that depend upon bot access to the hardware
The following verbs depend in part or in entirety on an interface between the bot and the teleconference service. As the bot is currently implemented these will not work at all without such a connection:
+<name> -<name> mute <name> unmute <name> who is muted? who is here? who is on the phone? who is talking? list attendees is <name> here? <name> has <others> <another> is with <name> <another> has just arrived in <name> <someone> has just left <name> who is in <name>? <oldname> is <newname> I am <name> nick <irc-nick> is <name> call drop, disconnect pick a scribe, pick a victim
Attendance information, irc nick association with a conference connection, raising or lowering one's hand to speak, and scribe selection all depend upon knowing who is present in the teleconference. Zakim bot obtains this information from the teleconference service.
this conference is <name> this conference will be <name> move <name> to here what conference is this? what is the code? list conferences
The verbs to associate an irc channel with one of possibly many active teleconferences are a prerequisite to the other hardware-related functions.
room for, space for
Similarly, the verb to schedule an adhoc ("instant") meeting requires access to the teleconference service scheduler.
Most teleconference systems provide a Web interface to identify and monitor callers and mute or unmute connections. Some systems reserve the capability to mute or unmute other connections to a "host". Some systems limit conferences to just one participant with the "host" role at a time.
All teleconference systems provide some ad-hoc meeting facility of their own via a Web interface.
Zakim-bot does not currently recognize the "present:" and "present+" signals used in irc to update attendance information for the record. This would be a simple change to make to the bot and would enable the
pick a scribe and
list attendees verbs.
The unified W3C teleconference calendar is functionally distinct from the teleconference hardware. The Zakim teleconference system has a vendor-supplied scheduling package that AdminReq uses to enter teleconference requests. The W3C teleconference calendar relies on read access to the database that is part of this vendor-supplied scheduling package.
The W3C teleconference calendar backend is unique to the particular scheduling database. It could be re-written for a different teleconference system provided the system allows access to the data.
Replication of the schedule data outside of the native scheduler used for a given teleconference service would be possible but would be error-prone.