ERCIM News No.38 - July 1999

BSCW sets Standard for Open Internet Cooperation

by Konrad Klöckner

Even today, the platform-independent cooperation in geographically distributed projects is often a difficult problem. So far the Internet has provided support for this problem only to a limited extent. With the BSCW (Basic Support for Cooperative Work) system, GMD in Sankt Augustin has developed a World Wide Web-based platform for cooperation support which extends the possibilities of the World Wide Web considerably.

The basic idea of the BSCW system is the autonomously managed Shared Workspace which the members of a working group install and use for the organization and coordination of their tasks. The members of the working group can upload documents from their local computer to the workspace as well as access documents in the workspace, eg for processing them.
In addition to the comfortable document management, there are a notification service providing information about current activities and a great number of functions and object types for more extensive support of cooperation. The user of the system only requires one of the usual browsers such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer.

BSCW is installed on some 300 servers both in the education area and in business around the world. For several years now, GMD has been operating a public server on which meanwhile more than 17,000 users have registered and manage common projects.

The version 3.3 of the system which has just been released is another step in the direction of open Internet cooperation. This version provides an object browser written in Java which enables a simple processing of files and documents in a similar way as the Windows file browser. For the support of information management, documents and World Wide Web links can now be annotated and rated individually, a median is calculated from the individual ratings and presented to the users.

The previous version was improved and extended in many respects, eg through improved e-mail integration, new locking mechanisms for distributed document processing, easier creation of large document archives and easier access rights management. Version 3.3 of the BSCW system thus fulfils a great number of requirements and requests from the large user group in the form of new and extended functionality. For further information visit our Web site at

Please contact:

Konrad Klöckner - GMD
Tel: +49 2241 14 2055

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