OHS - the critical missing piece of the technology to enable dynamic
distributed collective work.
XML - a system for encapsulating data in a versatile and portable way, while
retaining usefulness and customizability. Note: XSL stylesheets are of
particular importance to users with special requirements. For example,
someone with a sight defect will require larger fonts and pictures so that
they can make things out clearly. Or they may wish certain passages of text
to be read out to them, either by a speech synthersizer or by an optional
download of a binary sound file. Users with varying screen resolutions, or
colour depth, or even those with a very low bandwidth connection to the
Internet, will want to be treated differently. We also need XML support to
be browser independent, while still allowing people to browse the mixture of
XML and HTML documents which will inevitably arise as a result of the slow
spread of XML technology throughout the Web.
Essential Elements of an Open Hyperdocument System, as developed by Douglas
Engelbart. Makes a good measuring stick for evaluating collaborative
"Authorship Provisions in AUGMENT," Douglas C. Engelbart, COMPCON '84
Digest: Proceedings of the COMPCON Conference, San Francisco, CA, February
27 - March 1, 1984, pp. 465-472 (OAD,2250,). Republished in 1988 with Items
#4, #6, and #21, pp. 107-126. Also in Groupware: Software for
Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, D. Marca & G. Bock [Editors], IEEE,
Web-based access to conference proceedings about Collaboration Systems and
Hawaii International Conference On System Sciences (HICSS) and IEEE have
joined together to provide the HICSS Digital Library. The Web-based HICSS
Digital Library will provide full text versions of all HICSS papers,
starting with HICSS-32 (1999).
"Digital documents can be improved by using link reduction strategies such
as minimal spanning tree and Pathfinder network scaling algorithms as well
as providing additional reference points with user profiles.
JASPER (Joint Access to Stored Pages with Easy Retrieval) - is a unique
type of knowledge management system: virtual reality-enabled multi-user
virtual environments with spatialized semantic structures. Such virtual
environments would be particularly suitable for users to exploit emerging
knowledge structures concerning a group of people and engage in social
interaction with concurrent users in the virtual world. The design principle
has been illustrated by an example of how a heterogeneous collection of
accumulated documents and user profiles can be visualized in order to reveal
the interconnectivity between user profiles and documents as well as
This document, begun in 1995, describes a number of W3C activities relating
to collaboration, knowledge representation and Web automation.
Proceedings for the Annual Hawaii International Conference on System
Eric Armstrong wrote:
> Requirements for a collaborative-document system.
> (Aprox. equiv to Open HyperDocument System.)
> Version History
> 0.5 "Partionable" requirement added under "general system rqmts"
> 0.4 Use Case Scenarios
> 0.3 Formatting, two additions
> 0.2 Refinements
> 0.1 Initial Version
> This is a lengthy document aimed at adducing the requirements for a
> subset of an eventual Dynamic Knowledge Repository (DKR). The subset
> described is for a collaborative document system, which Doug describes
> as an "Open HyperDocument System" (OHS). The goal of this document is to
> show how such a system fits into a DKR framework, detail its
> requirements, and point to a couple of extensions that move it in the
> direction of a full DKR.
> This document has the following sections:
> * Long-Range Goals
> * Motivation
> * Starting Points
> * General Characteristics
> * Outline of Operational Requirements
> * Summary of Data Structure Requirements
> * Use Case Scenarios
> * Future: Using an Abstract Knowledge Representation
> * v0.2 Thoughts from UnRev-II discussions and other additions
> * v0.1 First Draft
> Long-Range Goals
> A fully functional DKR will need to manage many different kinds of
> * documents
> * abstract knowledge representations
> (and inference engines)
> * predictive models
> * multimedia objects
> * programs of various kinds
> (search engines, simulations, applets)
> * data
> (spreadsheet files, database tables)
> It is likely, too, that different kinds of problem will required
> information to be organized in fundamentally different ways. For
> example, a DKR devoted to the energy problem might have major headings
> for the problem statement, real world data, tactical possibilities,
> strategic alternatives, and predictive models. On the other hand, a DKR
> devoted to building the next-generation DKR might have sections for
> requirements, design, implementation, testing, bug reports, suggestions,
> schedules, and future plans.
> Since the general outline of a DKR seems to depend on the problem domain
> it is targeted for, it seems reasonable to focus attention on the
> elements they have in common.
> This set of requirements will focus on what is perhaps the major common
> feature: Documents -- in particular, Collaborative Documents, and the
> need to interact via email to construct them.
> Other important areas that will need attention include the integration
> of multimedia objects (including animations, simulations, audio, video,
> and the like) as well as the critical functions of abstract knowledge
> representation, inference engines, model-building functions, and the
> integration of other executable programs. But here, we'll focus on
> Collaborative Documents.
> A wide variety of email and forum-based discussions occur on a host of
> topics every day. In each of these discussions, important information
> frequently surfaces, but that information is hard to capture where you
> need it.
> Document production systems, on the other hand, simplify the task of
> creating complex documents but make it hard to gather and integrate
> For example the DKR discussions have identified several possible
> starting points for such a system. That kind of feedback occurs
> naturally in an email system, as opposed to a document production
> system, but each of the pointers was buried in a separate email. It
> required lengthy search to gather them together (below), and the list
> may not even be complete!
> To act as a foundation for a DKR, a Collaborative Document System (CDS?)
> needs to combine the best features of:
> * Directory tree / outlining programs
> * Hypertext (links and formatting)
> * XML (inline references and other features)
> * Email systems
> * Forums and Email Archives
> * Document Database
> * Versioning Systems
> * Difference Engines
> * Search Engines
> Starting Points
> In the DKR discussion, we've seen pointers to several possible starting
> points for such a system. Those are contained in the References post, in
> the Bootstrap section. (They many possible starting points listed in the
> post desperately need short synopses and evaluations.)
> General Characteristics
> The lengthy list of starting points, the difficulty of creating it, and
> the rapidity with which it goes out of date, combine to suggest several
> obvious requirements for the system: It needs to be composed of
> information nodes that are hierarchical, mailable, linkable, and
> evaluable (more on those subjects in a moment).
> Each of those requirements leads in turn to other requirements. The
> major requirements are listed here and explained below:
> General Functional Requirements
> * Hierarchical
> * Revisable
> * Versionable
> * Mailable
> * Multiple-Containment
> * Distributed
> * Administratable
> * Differencable
> * Linkable
> * Categorizable
> * Queryable
> * Evaluable
> * Collaborative
> * Attributive
> * Accelerative
> General Systemic Requirements:
> * Open
> * Extensible
> * Secure
> DKR Requirements
> * Firewalled
> * Didactic (a teaching device)
> The next three sections discuss those requirements in greater detail.
> Following that, there are three shorter sections:
> * Operational Requirements -- Highlights
> * Data Structure Requirements
> * Future: Using an Abstract Knowledge Representation
> General Functional Requirements
> These are the general requirements for how the system must operate, to
> be effective.
> This document, like the list of starting points mentioned earlier, is
> heavily hierarchical in nature -- as are most technical documents. These
> facts further underscore the need for a hierarchical system.
> For example, this email message should exist in outline form. It should
> be easy to add and remove entries to various sections: for example, the
> list of starting points given above.
> However, the hierarchy should function using XML-sytle "entity
> references" that copy the target contents into the displayed document,
> "inline". That permits multiple references to the same node. The result
> is effectively a lattice of information nodes, where any one view of it
> is hierarchical.
> Although "hard" links to objects will be needed at times, in most cases
> the link to the "Requirements Document" should be a "soft" link -- that
> is, an indirect link that points to the latest version. That means never
> having to worry about looking at an old version of the spec.
> Each node in the hierarchy needs to be versioned, so that previous
> information is available. In addition, the task of displaying
> differences becomes essentially trivial.
> It must be possible to "publish" the whole document or sections of it by
> "posting" it. It must also be possible to create replies for individual
> sections, and then "post" them all at one time.
> At a minimum, every node in the system has two hierarchies descending
> from it. One is a list of content nodes that comprise the hierarchical
> document. The other is a list of reviewer comments. (Some comments will
> be specific to the information in that node, others will be intended as
> general comments for that section of the document.)
> Other sub-element lists may found to be desirable in the future, so the
> system should be "open-ended" in allowing other sublists to be added,
> identified, and accessed.
> Rather than using a central "repository", the system should employ the
> major strengths of email systems, namely: fast access on local systems
> and the robust nature of the system as a result of having redundant
> copies on many different systems. The system will be more space
> intensive than email systems, but storage costs are dropping
> precipitously, and future technologies paint an even brighter picture.
> To mitigate the short-term need for storage space, it should be possible
> to set individual storage policies. For example, a user will most likely
> not want to keep previous versions of any documents they are not
> personally involved in authoring.
> It must also be possible to add names to the authoring list. Name
> removal should probably be limited to the original author. For those
> cases when the original author is no longer part of the system, it
> should be possible to make a copy of the document and name a new primary
> When a new version of a document arrives, differences are highlighted.
> Old-version information becomes accessible through links (if saved).
> Differences are always against the last version that was visited. If a
> section of the document was never visited, the most recent version of
> that section is displayed on the first visit. If several iterations have
> taken place since the last visit, the cumulative differences are shown.
> (Again, node-versioning makes this user-friendly feature fairly
> Starting Points
> XMLTreeDiff at IBM Alphaworks (Lars Martin)
> Clearly support for web links is desirable, as shown by the links to the
> various possible starting points in the References post. [Note: Each of
> those should be evaluated against this requirements list, and used to
> modify these requirements.]
> Indirect links are needed, both to link to a list of related nodes, and
> to link to the latest version of a node.
> It must be possible to categorize nodes (and possibly links). For
> IBIS-style discussions, for example, node types include (at a minimum)
> question, alternative, pro, con, endorsement, and decision.
> For material that is included "in line" in the original document, typing
> implies the ability to choose which kinds of linked-information to
> include. For example, in addition to the current version, one might
> choose to display previous versions and/or all commentary.
> For material that is displayed in separate windows, typing allows the
> secondary windows to automatically display material of a given type.
> (For example, in Rod Welch's "contract alignment" example, the secondary
> window might automatically display the meeting minutes that are linked
> to particular phrases in a contract. Lines might be automatically drawn
> from sections of the minutes to sections of the contract. Other links in
> the documents, however, would be ignored.
> It should be possible to construct an initial design document using
> queries of the form "give me all design notes corresponding to the
> features we decided to implement in the current version of the
> functional specification.
> The many possible starting points in the References list highlights the
> need for evaluablility. It should be possible, not only to reply with a
> comment on any item in those lists, but also to add an evaluation, much
> as Amazon.com keeps evaluations for books. That feature is arguably
> their greatest contribution to ecommerce, and the DKR should make use of
> it. It should also be possible to order list items using relative
> evaluations. That lets the most promising starting point float to the
> top of the list.
> Not all lists should be ordered by evaluation, however. For example, the
> sequence of requirements has been chosen to provide the most natural
> "bridge" from one to the next. So evaluation-ordering must be an option.
> Ideally, it should also be possible to "weight" an evaluation, perhaps
> by adding a "yay" or "nay" to an existing evaluation.
> When displaying an evaluation, where evaluators can choose a value from
> 1..5, it might make sense to display the average, the number of
> evaluations, and the distribution. A distribution like
> 10 2 1 2 10
> for example, would show a highly polarized response, even though the
> "average" was 3.
> Starting Points
> * Architecture for Internet searching, categorization, and ranking
> The system must increase the ability of multiple people, working
> collaboratively, to generate up to date and accurate revisions.
> For any given document, there are several classes of interaction:
> * receive
> * comment
> * suggest
> * author
> The first group consists of people who receive the document and do
> nothing else with it. (Just trying to be complete here.) The second
> group consists of people who send back comments on different sections.
> That feedback will typically be used in future versions.
> The 3rd group consists of people who suggest an alternative wording or
> organization. Those "suggestions" take the form of a modified copy of
> the original. One of the document authors may then agree to use that
> formulation in place of the original, or may simply keep it as
> The 4th group consists of the fully-collaborative authoring group. The
> original author must be able to add other individuals to the document,
> or to subsections of it. (An author registered for a given node has
> authoring privileges throughout the hierarchy anchored at that node.)
> Every information node that is created should be automatically
> attributed to it's author. When a new version of a node is created, all
> of the people who sent comments should be contained in a "reviewer"
> list. When a suggestion is accepted, the author of the suggested node
> should go into a "contributor" list in the parent node and be added to
> the "author" list for the current node. It should be possible to
> identify all of the reviewers, contributors, and authors for the whole
> document and for each section of it.
> When new versions of a document are created, material would be included
> by pointing to it, keeping attributions intact. The system must
> accelerate that process. It should be possible to start a new document
> in one of two ways:
> * Copy the original document intact to create a new version
> of it. (Deletes and rearrangements then affect the new
> document, while the original version remains intact.
> * Create a document and designate it as the "target" so that,
> as you review other documents, selecting parts of it and
> issuing the "copy" command automatically stuffs it into the
> General Systemic Requirements
> These are requirements for the system as a whole.
> The system must be "open" in the sense that a user is not constrained to
> using a particular editor, email system, or central server. The
> specifications for interaction with the system should be freely
> available, along with a reference implementation to use as a basis. As
> much as possible, conformance with existing standards (XML, XHTML, HTTP,
> email) is desirable. (The tricky decisions, of course, will be between
> required features and standard protocols that don't support them.)
> The server and client systems that implement the DKR must also be fully
> *extensible*. In other words, the same characteristics of hierarchy,
> versioning, and revisability (use of most recent version) that apply to
> the documents must apply to the system itself.
> That extensibility can be accomplished with a "dispatch table" that
> names the class to use for each kind of object that needs to be created.
> In conjunction with open sourcing, that architecture allows a user to
> extend (subclass) an existing class and then use the extended version in
> place of the original. In addition, upgrades can occur dynamically,
> while the system is in operation, while allowing for modular downgrades
> when extensions don't work out.
> Starting Points
> * Warner Ornstine's Cords/Plugs/Sockets Architecture
> Security in such a system becomes an issue, unfortunately. The system
> should employ whatever mechanisms exist or can be constructed to help
> prevent trojan horse attacks, back door attacks, and other security
> breaches in an open source system.
> For example, Christine Peterson described Apache's process as having
> something like 45 reviewers, 3 of whom recommend the inclusion and none
> of whom object, before new code is added to the system.
> Email is fundamentally the right interface for such a system, because
> information comes to you, the information is organized into threads,
> and you can edit/reply from within the same application you use to
> view the information. (Email's major weaknesses stem from the fact
> that even though the interface is appropriate, the underlying data
> structures are not. But the hierarchy inherent in the specified
> system will rectify those flaws, eliminating the redundancy inherent
> in email responses and allowing for thread-summaries.)
> However, the factor that makes email central to one's daily activities
> is the wide variety of inputs you receive. Email is inherently "project
> neutral". You get email on every topic under the sun, including personal
> and professional interests. It represents "one stop shopping" for your
> information needs. (The Web, on the other hand, provides nicer
> storefronts, but you have to go visit the store to find what you want.)
> In a sense, the "firewall" requirement is in itself a partition. In an
> organization like the Standford Research Center (SRI), for example,
> there is a need to create a project-specific partition, so that only
> only other members of the project team ever see that information. On
> the other hand, there is a wide area of shared expertise (computer
> expertise, management expertise, administrative expertise) that can
> be shared among all members of the organization.
> In a similar vein, the "email interface model" implies the need for
> multiple partitions -- one for each project or interest area, for
> example. The degree to which you "cross-fertilize" between the
> partitions should then be up to you.
> Looking Ahead: Some DKR Requirements
> These additional requirements begin to move the system towards a DKR.
> With respect to security, there is also the issue of "firewall"
> capability. The DKR must allow professionals in many different
> organizations to contribute and share knowledge. That knowledge may
> largely be in the form of published papers and the means to locate and
> access them, but it represents a high-degree of inter-organizational
> co-operation, at the level of the individual professional.
> The DKR will also be handy for individual projects, though. The
> mechanisms will support collaborative designs and "on demand" education
> as to corporate procedures, for example. But that information must
> remain *inside* the firewall, inaccessible to competitors.
> In the ideal scenario, it will also be possible to "publish" information
> stored in the inner repository at strategic times, rather like
> publishing a technical paper that gives the design of the system. But
> until then, the firewall must remain intact.
> Didactic (DKR)
> Eventually, the system must become a *teaching* tool. It must follow the
> concept of "Education on Demand", intelligently supplying the user with
> the information needed, and educating that user, whatever their initial
> background. (Within reasonable limits.)
> Outline of Operational Requirements
> This is an outline of functional operations for the system:
> * Editing
> --Add, change, delete, move nodes
> --Copy nodes
> ..node alone, current-version subtree, whole subtree
> --Link (indirect, "soft" links, and direct "hard" links)
> --Automatic versioning
> --Automatic attribution
> * Email
> ..Increment version number for future edits
> ..Deliver to group via server
> ..Automatically diff against last visited version of
> each node
> ..Highlight diffs
> .."Go to next unread" feature
> * Attribution
> --New node: author=currUser, lastEditor=currUser
> --Copy node: all lists unchanged
> --Modify node: lastEditor=currUser
> --Copy text: new node created, all lists copied
> --Paste text: Author-list + Contributor list from the
> clipboard node merge into the contributor
> list for the current node
> This is a highly imperfect solution to the attribution
> problem. Copying a single word out of a very large node
> stands to create a highly-inaccurate contributor list.
> On the other hand, creating a new node and pasting all
> of the text from the old one would drop attributions
> A better alternative, if feasible, would be attributions
> attached to every phrase in the node. That requirement
> creates a third category of containment for the node,
> consisting of the text that makes it up. When originally
> created, there would only be one long phrase, and it's
> author. When others make changes, the text would be
> broken up into segments. That's the same architecture
> most editors use internally, anyway, but it would require
> storing a lot more information, putting it together to
> display the node, and taking it into account when copying
> and pasting.
> * Phantom Nodes
> --Since it is possible to receive comments on nodes that
> have been deleted from the current (not yet published)
> draft, the system must maintain "phantom" nodes that
> can be used to collect such comments.
> --Phantom nodes are invisible until a comment is received.
> Theoretically, they can disappear once the current version
> is posted (since future comments will be on that version).
> In practice, though, there The comments
> themselves are always stored under the original node.
> --As an alternative, the system could operate like the CRIT
> system, where such comments go to the end of the document.
> * Trash Bin
> --Each node needs a trash bin that collects nodes which
> are deleted from under it. Trash bins are never emptied,
> except by explicit action requiring multiple explicit
> * Distributed Editing Control
> --The comment/version-publishing system means that locks
> are not required for single-author documents. But for
> multiple authors to collaborate, it must be possible to
> prevent editing conflicts.
> --One possibility is to implement distributed locks.
> The major issue there is handling communication outages.
> --An equally viable possibility may be to allow
> simultaneous edits and detect their occurrence
> when a new version is received. The competing
> versions can then be displayed side-by-side
> along with user-selectable merge options.
> --Detection of competing versions may require something
> other than simple version numbers. Or perhaps the
> versionID would consist of the version number combined
> with the ID of the current writer.
> --TrashBin nodes must maintain a pointer to the phantom
> that is left behind after deletes, or to the location
> at which to create such a phantom.
> * Version Identification
> --A monotonically increasing version#, combined with the
> ID of the most recent editor *should* be sufficient to
> identify changes in a node. It may be that a timestamp
> works better, though. Even a timestamp will need to be
> combined with the most-recent-editor-ID, though, to
> identify competing versions created by different authors.
> (Although matching a millisecond-timestamp is improbable,
> it is not impossible.)
> --The version number for a node would be the maximum of
> the version numbers for all content subnodes. When
> edited, the new version number would either be a timestamp
> or the parent version# + 1. (All parents would then be
> --TimeStamps probably make more sense, since edits using
> the algorithm above will make the version# "jump around"
> quite a bit.
> --In either case, a more "user-friendly" version number is
> needed for the document as a whole.
> --The system needs to account for a "hierarchy of versions"
> of at least two levels. The first level is for a set of
> documents. (All documents for version 2.0 of the system,
> for example.) The second level is the version of the
> document itself. (Version 3 of the 2.0 Requirements Doc).
> (How deep should it go? Large subsections might have
> versions, as well. Below that?)
> Data Structure Requirements
> Each node in the system should be able to track the following
> * Unique identifier (so links always work)
> * List of Content subelements
> * List of Comment subelements
> * List of elements comprising the content-text,
> with attributions (if implemented)
> * Version-identifier for the node
> * Version-identifier for the content sublist
> * Author list
> * Contributor list
> * Reviewer list
> * Last editor
> * Evaluation list
> * Evaluation summary
> * Distributed Lock (unless Competing Versions is chosen)
> * Trash Bin
> * isPhantom identifier
> * pointer to own phantom
> Use Cases & Scenarios
> After the initial version of the data/object structures
> has been nailed down, they need to be run through a series
> of use case scenarios, with the data manipulations defined
> for each. The goal of the process will be to refine the
> data structures, looking for weaknesses or necessary
> reorganizations. [Note: Some scenarios may need to be
> tabled as unsuitable for the initial system.]
> General Scenarios
> * Software Development discussions and documents
> --IBIS-style discussions
> --Functional Specs-->Design Specs -+
> +-->User Doc'n Source Code <-+
> +-->FAQ Tests --------+
> +---Bug Reports----------------+
> * Strategic Decisions (combinations)
> --multiple possibilities identified (~= alternatives)
> --proposals consist of combinations of possibilities
> --one proposal selected
> * Build a Product/Feature comparison chart
> --Feature rows, product columns
> --Adding a column suggests a new feature, then
> track the "back-gathering" of data on prev. products
> * Build a Requirements/Technology evaluation chart
> --Requirements rows, Technology columns
> --Must-Have, Nice-To-Have, Optional categories
> --Y/N cells &/or evaluation cells
> --Adding a new technology suggests additional
> "must have" feature
> * Project Management
> --implementation checklists & signups
> (track who signed up to do what)
> * Multiple Software Versions
> --Series of tutorial examples
> --Code branches with common elements
> * IBIS-style discusssions
> --Add questions, posit alternatives, evaluate & decide
> --Subsume propositions as alternatives under a question
> * Mathematical/Logical Reasoning
> --Asertions, Negations
> --Implications (a->b)
> --Inferences (a->b + b->c + a => c)
> Specific Use Cases
> * Comments
> --Comment on a node
> --Comment on a structure
> * Suggestions
> --Suggest a text revision
> --Suggest a new node
> --Suggest a new structure
> --Accept/reject a suggestion
> * Reduction
> --Edit a copy
> --integrate comments
> ..fold in and remove, or
> ..reject and remove
> --New version replaces old, and links to it.
> * Competing Versions
> --become "siblings"? -- a parent needed
> --Use IBIS model for resolution?
> --Evaluations, leading to eventual selection
> Future: Using an Abstract Knowledge Representation
> A hierarchical system is created from only two relationships:
> * Containment
> * Ordering
> If progress is made in the pursuit of abstract knowledge
> representations, it may be that the whole of collaborative document
> system may well migrate into a knowledge representation, using those two
> relationships. The document management system would then be a subset of
> a much larger knowledge management repository.
> One wonders what such a system will look like after it begins to be
> extended with thousands of additional relationships.
> It boggles the mind.
> Community email addresses:
> Post message: unrev-II@onelist.com
> Subscribe: unrev-IIfirstname.lastname@example.org
> Unsubscribe: unrev-IIemail@example.com
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> Shortcut URL to this page:
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