YEdit IconDocument collaboration software > Web Content Management System > Current Web Collaboration

Original and current Web collaboration

If you take a very weak definition of collaboration (in that most of the information flow is one way, with just comments and the like coming back) then the Web is already a very successful collaborative environment.  If you take a view that is more in the spirit of W3 with a slightly tighter perspective of collaboration, then the Web has some way to go from its current domain of information publication, to a free flowing web of information.

One of the main concepts in the creation of the Web was collaboration [Berners-Lee 1990].  As detailed above, the Web has had major growth, but opportunities for collaboration have not been seen to be utilised.  If groups do exist that use the full potential of the Web, then they seem to be in isolated pockets with their focus inwards, such that those that use it know about it, but no one else knows.  If this is the case, then these groups do not seem to be providing much to enhance the potential for the Web for everyone else.  The Web does allow collaboration that was not possible before, but much more can be achieved.  Previous attempts at collaboration (except maybe for Berners-Lee's original ideas, such as the original 'WorldWideWeb' browser/editor for NeXT [Berners-Lee WtW, Chap 4]) have tended to use collaboration that is already available in some current easy form.  The main two at present are real time chat and video calls, that are both based on the concept of the original 'Talk', IRC [RFC2810-3] and MUD applications/protocols, protocols that are still widely used, and on converting Usenet/Mailing lists to web form.  When set up correctly, the Web does a good job of archiving Usenet and Mailing lists.  In the current form, using the Web for access to Usenet or Mailing lists is very "clunky", and difficult compared to using email and Usenet in the first place.  One of the reasons why the Web is not as quick and easy to use as the normal programs is because every command must be returned to the web server to have any effect.  This has a great effect on slow connections like dial-up, and still has an effect on fast connections.  Because all the information is stored only on the web server, it is not possible to download the new email/newsgroups and read them offline.  Also you are limited to the actions that have been implemented for the web interface, rather than the variety of options that are available through the range of email and Usenet programs.  When used for comments on articles, the Web does better, but can still be improved on.  An example of a web site that allows comments on articles that are posted Slashdot (  Email and Usenet should be used the way they were intended and then the results can be archived to the Web for storage and searching.  This gives the advantages of both, without many of the disadvantages of either.  These points also affect the YEdit engine, which is one of the reasons that Web user interface will not be the only user interface.

A recent protocol called WebDAV [RFC2518] (an open distributed authoring and versioning protocol) supporting HTTP [RFC2616] extensions for distributed authoring will help collaboration efforts over the Web, as it adds extra abilities to the HTTP protocol that will help with collaboration, versioning and related actions.  This new protocol will fit in with this research well, as this research can be extended to work with the new protocol, and that will ease actions like locking, versioning and transfers of files.

Standards should be employed wherever possible, unless there is a compelling reason to use something else, as they are generally easier to use than methods that just seek to replicate the standards.  Also by utilising standards, compatibility and interoperability are enhanced.  Standards such as HTTP access will allow any standards-compatible web browser/editor to access, author and publish information over the Web.  In the future more advanced methods will be used, such as the WebDAV protocol, and/or other standard protocols for non-web access.

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