Transparent Adaptation of Single-User Applications for Multi-User Real-Time Collaboration
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Single-user interactive computer applications are pervasive in our daily lives and work. Leveraging single-user applications for supporting multi-user collaboration has the potential to significantly increase the availability and improve the usability of collaborative applications. In this article, we report an innovative Transparent Adaptation (TA) approach and associated supporting techniques that can be used to convert existing and new single-user applications into collaborative ones, without changing the source code of the original application. The cornerstone of the TA approach is the operational transformation (OT) technique and the method of adapting the single-user application programming interface to the data and operation models of OT. This approach and supporting techniques were developed and tested in the process of transparently converting two commercial off-the-shelf single-user applications (Microsoft Word and PowerPoint) into real-time collaborative applications, called CoWord and CoPowerPoint, respectively. CoWord and CoPowerPoint not only retain the functionalities and "look-and-feel" of their single-user counterparts, but also provide advanced multi-user collaboration capabilities for supporting multiple interaction paradigms, ranging from concurrent and free interaction to sequential and synchronized interaction, and for supporting detailed workspace awareness, including multi-user telepointers and radar views. The TA approach and generic collaboration engine software component developed from this work are potentially applicable and reusable in adapting a wide range of single-user applications.
ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction