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comp.groupware FAQ: Products-editors

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Archive-name: comp-groupware-faq/products-editors
Posting-Frequency: semi-monthly
Last-modified: 1995.6.20
Version: 1.2
Copyright: 1995 (C) David S. Stodolsky, PhD

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
From: kochm@Informatik.TU-Muenchen.DE (Michael Koch)
Newsgroups: comp.groupware
Subject: WWW version of multi-user editor and co-authoring systems list
Date: 13 Apr 1995 08:16:14 GMT

As there is a big interest in a collection about projects and
products in the context of multi-user editors and co-authoring systems
I converted the list I posted some months ago to some HTML pages.

The list uses the unOfficial Yellow Pages of CSCW to store the project
descriptions and the CSCW bibliography to store bibliographic
information about the references mentioned in the descriptions.
With the YP-scripts, the project descriptions can be edited and annotated.

If you know a multiuser editor or a research group that is working on that 
topic an is not mentioned in my list, than please send me an info
Additions, comments and corrections are also welcome and will be integrated.

Michael Koch   +49 89 450552-33
Institut fuer Informatik, Technische Universitaet Muenchen, Germany
         Lehrstuhl fuer Verteilte Anwendungen, Professor Schlichter

List of multiuser editors / co-authoring systems
From: kochm@Informatik.TU-Muenchen.DE (Michael Koch)
Newsgroups: comp.groupware
Subject: Multiuser editor list (long)
Date: 18 Jul 1994 07:34:23 GMT

                     by Michael Koch (ed.)    

                         first draft
                          july 1994

I'm working on a distributed multiuser editor / co-authoring system in
the context of distributed systems and computer supported work (CSCW).
As one basis for my PhD thesis I collected information on existing
multiuser editors.

>From my last question in the Usenet-Newsgroup comp.groupware I learned,
that such a list may be of interest for some other groups around the
world. So I spend a little extra work to make this list available.

There are many different definitions of what a multiuser editor is 
and there are different types of editors even if you agree on one
definition.  I looked for programs that match the following points:

- programs that support their users in jointly generating and 
  editing a document (that may be a linear or hierarchical text,
  a hypertext, a graphic or any other medium)

- the programs should have a possibility to store the data and to
  continue editing later

The sources of information have been several papers, technical
reports, internal reports, surveys and books (always refer-ed). Most
of the description text is pure cut/paste of some of the main ideas
from the publications.
It may be redundant or unpolished. That's because I didn't try to
write a book, just a information list. Corrections or more precise
descriptions are welcome.

!! This list is a first draft version
!! If you know a multiuser editor or a research group that
!! is working on that topic an is not mentioned in my list,
!! than please send me an info (
!! Additions, comments and corrections are also welcome and will
!! be integrated in the next versions.

1. alphabetically ordered list of system names
2. list of research groups
3. descriptions of programs/projects 
4. bibliography


1. list of system/program names

The attributes in parenthesis indicate if it is a editor for
synchronous sessions or asynchronous sessions, what medium types can
be edited and how the storage of the document is handled (central,
replicated, cache)

Alliance		(async, structured text, central)
Aspects			(sync, text, graphic)
CAR			(async, text, central)
CaveDraw		(sync, graphic)
CES			(async, text, replicated)
CoAUTHOR		(async, multimedia)
CoDraft			(sync, graphic ,replicated)
CollaborWriter		(async, text, central))
CoMEdiA			(sync, async, hypermedia, central)
Contexts		(async, hypermedia, central)
ConversionBoard		(sync, graphic, replicated)
DistEdit		(sync, async, text, replicated)
EHTS			(async, hypertext, central-cache)
Ensemble		(sync, graphic)
ForComment		(sync, text)
GroupDesign		(sync, graphic, replicated)
GroupDraw		(sync, graphic, replicated)
GroupIE			(sync, async, text, graphic, replicated)
GroupSketch		(sync, graphic, replicated)
GroupWriter		(async, text)
GROVE			(sync, text, replicated)
Instant Update		(sync, (async), text)
Iris			(sync, async, hierarchical text, replicated)
KMS			(hypermedia, central)
MACE			(sync, async, text, central-cache)
Mercury			()
MESSIE			(async, text, central)
Mjolner-project		(async, sync, text, central)
MultimETH		(sync, text)
Neptune			(hypertext, central)
PREP			(async, text)
Quilt			(async, text, central)
SASE			(sync, text)
SASSE			(sync, text)
SEPIA			(sync, async, hypertext, central)
Shared Books		(async, text, central)
ShrEdit			(sync, text, central)
Vopex-2KM-Sun		(sync, text, central)


2. list of research groups

United States
- Brown University IRIS
  (Meyrowitz) -> Intermedia
- Carnegie Mellon University
  (Neuwirth) -> PREP
- Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation, Austin
  (Ellis) -> GROVE
- MIT Cambridge
  (Greif) -> CES
- University of Florida
  (Newman-Wolfe, Pelimuhandiram) -> MACE
  (Newman-Wolfe, Pelimuhandiram) -> Emsemble
- University of Michigan
  (Dourish) -> ShrEdit
  (Knister) -> DistEdit
- Bell
  (Fish, Leland) -> Quilt
- Xerox
  -> Shared books

- Toronto University
  (Baecker) -> SASE, SASSE

- University of Calgary 
  (Malcom, Gaines) -> GroupWriter
  (Greenberg, Roseman, Webster, Bohnet) -> GroupDraw, GroupSketch

- University of Aalborg
  (Wiil) -> EHTS

- Universite de Paris-Sud
  (Karsenty, Beaudouin-Lafon) -> GroupDesign
  (Decouchant, Quint) -> Alliance

- Frauenhofer Institut fuer Computergrafik, Darmstadt
  (Santos, Tritsch, Hornung) -> CoMEdia
- Gesellschaft fuer Mathematik und Datenverarbeitung - IPSI
  (Haake) -> SEPIA
  (Haake) -> CoVer
- Universitaet Erlangen-Nuernberg
  (Kirsche) -> CoDraft
- Universitaet Freiburg
  (Hahn) -> CoAUTHOR
- Universitaet Karlsruhe
  (Ruedebusch) -> GroupIE
- Universitaet Muenchen
  (Borghoff, Koch) -> Iris

- Lund University
  (Minoer, Magnusson) -> Mjolner-project

- ETH Zuerich
  (Lubich) -> MultimETH

United Kingdom
- Aston University, Birmingham
  (McAlpine) -> CollaborWriter
- Dundee Institute of Technology
  (Jones) -> MILO
- University College London
  (Baydere, Sasse) -> CAR
  (Sasse) -> MESSIE


3. program/project descriptions:

- Alliance
  INRIA-IMAG France  (Dominique Decouchant and Vincent Quint)

  An asynchronous multiuser editor that is based on the single-user
  editor Grif [Quint1986].
  Collaborative editing of structured documents; fully replicated
  application with central document storage (Sun NFS)

  Supports roles; different roles for parts of the document; according
  to the roles the document is automatically divided into variable-size
  fragments, which are the sharing units;
  multiple readers but only on writer/manger role per fragment

  Notification about changes after a fragment is written back

- Aspects (Apple)
  commercial (available since 1990)
  info from

  Synchronous group writing, drawing and painting. Mainly tightly
  coupled cooperation with the 'view-with-others' option. If this
  option is disabled then loosely coupled cooperation is possible.

  Floor control options: 
  free for all, taking turns and turn taking mediated by moderator.

  University College London, Angela Sasse

  Collaborative multiuser editor based on a central NFS filestore.
  Use of SCCS in the filestore for locking and version and
  configuration management.

  Each section has a manager. The manager is responsible for the 
  version control when a section was freshly created, and put the
  first version under SCCS control before releasing it for comments.

  No special support for comment, just a policy: Comments are text
  additions to the document so that they stand out from the
  original text. No text should be deleted, comment with text: 
  'last text should be deleted/replaced'.
  Commenters keep modification history on top of the file up to date
  (by hand!), email authors that a comment has been made to their

  Policy that only author changes his section. Use of video
  conferences to talk about comments or suggested modifications.

- CaveDraw

  Synchronous collaboration in local distributed teams for the
  generation of text/graphic documents.

  Semi-transparent drawing layers and drawing cursors with different
  colors for the basic coordination. Every user has his own drawing
  color. The distribution of the own drawing layer or the import of
  the layers of other users is configurable.

  MIT Cambridge

  Asynchronous means of interaction on replicated structured
  text documents. Structure is fully replicated, contents are 
  stored by author. Coordination with the help of 'tickle locks'
  (explicit locks that are released automatically after some time).

  Access rights for document structure and contents.

  Based on Argus, a development an runtime support tool for
  distributed applications [Liskov1983].

  Co-authoring system for hypermedia documents.  Prototype that
  provides a real-time environment for multiple authors who wish to
  collaborate on the production of hypermedia documents, such as
  technical manuals, surgeon reports, etc. CoAuthor documents have
  recorded design history. Developed as part of Multiworks a ESPRIT-II
  Technology Integration Project.

- CoDraft
  Universitaet Erlangen-Nuernberg

  Multiuser Object-graphic editor; fully replicated application;
  fully replicated document storage.

  Every instance has to be in contact with all others and inform
  them about modifications and receive such informations from the
  other instances. Synchronization by locks. Session-Join only
  if invited by a member of the session.

  Global-view is possible (whole drawing area with working areas
  of users marked)

- CollaborWriter
  Aston University, Birmingham

  Built around a writing model presented by Sharples and Pemperton.

  SGML to define how a document could be structured; logical document
  structure as essential to the coordination of the collaborative

  Concurrency control with versioning based on an oo-database with
  long transactions

- CoMEdiA (cooperative hyperMedia Editing Architecture)
  Frauenhofer Institut fuer Computergrafik, Darmstadt

  Documents with a hypermedia structure; create new node and link
  it into document. Every node in one file. Central storage of
  files on one or more server; time-stamp-ordering for
  Locks on parts of the document and lock on the cursor position.
  The lock for the cursor position enables a very tight cooperation.

  Private and public annotations (graphic or text), telepointer,
  multi-cursors, follow co-author, roles (chairperson, author, commenter,
  on-line voice communication (conferences)

- Contexts
  Tektronix, Inc

  Multi-user hypertext system. Extension to a system called Neptune,
  allowing users their own private views or contexts of the hypertext
  database, and may make modifications within this view. When
  alterations are completed, they can be released to other project
  team members by merging the users private view (context) with the
  shared master view. Supports document versioning: integrating
  modifications in view is only done if no conflicts (e.g. branches)
  occured, display of differences is possible

- ConversionBoard, SimpleDraw, NormadicDraw, ...
  Bellcore, USA

  Fully synchronous oo graphic editors realized on the basis of
  single user applications with the help of the Rendezvous toolkit.
  Do actions locally and distribute them. Synchronization with
  floor control.

  No means to display modifications of other users in a special way.

- DistEdit

  Toolkit to build cooperative multiuser editors. Supports the 
  re-implementation and the modification of existing single-user
  editors. Uses the ISIS communication toolkit for reliable
  ordered communication.

  Fully replicated document storage.

  Version 1 [Knister1990] provides primitives for inserting and
  deleting of strings, for the propagation of the cursor position
  and for the transfer of the floor.
  Only one user has the floor for the whole file and can modify
  the text; the others can watch the actions of that master-user
  or read anywhere in the text. A user can request the floor; the
  floor is transfered if the floorholder agrees.
  Version 2 [Knister1993] changes the floor concept; now there are
  implicit and explicit locks (tickle locks);
  Lock-Step-Mode to change text very tightly coupled.
  All operations are still based on the insertion and deletion of
  strings; a simple transaction mechanism is added;

- EHTS (Emacs HyperText System)
  University of Aalborg, Denmark

  Multiuser hypertext system consisting of a text editor and a
  graphical browser. Text editor is the Emacs editor with additional

  Central storage of the document in 'HyperBase', a active multiuser
  database for hypertext systems in C++;
  client-server model, support for collaboration among users by
  providing event (notification) mechanism and fine grained lock

  Caches at clients; use of notifications from server to invalidate

- Ensemble

  Object graphic editor; part of the conference system DCS

- ForComment

  Multi-user asynchronous editor. Supports circulation comments, and
  revisions of documents. Separates the authors from the others who
  have commented the paper.

- GroupDesign
  Laboratoire de Recherche en Informatique, Univ de Paris-Sud

  Real-time multi-user drawing tool (close to GROVE)
  features to compensate the lack of group memory: history, age 
  (display of the time since the last modification with a color) and
  identification (display of user who created object with a color),
  time-relaxed WYSIWIS (privacy while working), audio echo, 
  realized with different modi: synchronization view 
  (localization mode), identification mode,

  Fully replicated document storage; Synchronization by high-level
  asynchronous protocol: distribute events, use logical clock to 
  timestamp events, list of received events, if received event then 
  undo all events with more recent timestamp, do event and redo the events

- GroupDraw
  University of Calgary

  Multiuser object graphic editor;
  WYSIWIS with scrolling and access rights (private objects that cannot
  be seen by the other users)

  Locks (can be granted by the object owner(=creator): so the state
  of an object can only be received from the owner; 
  the granularity of locks is a handle (one object can have several
  handles, e.g. a line has two);

- GroupIE (Group Interaction Environment)

  Integration of a multiuser editor, a conferencing tool and a email
  system; implement in Smalltalk-80; fully distributed/replicated;
  supports text, graphic, video objects and compound objects

  OO graphical multiuser editor with integrated email functionality.
  Distribution with distributed Smalltalk; remote method call based
  on proxy concept.

  Parameters of cooperation (granularity, notifications, ...) are

- GroupSketch
  University of Calgary

  Synchron, implicit interaction on common text/graphic documents
  in local distributed groups. Users may execute every action, there
  is no synchronization/coordination. No concurrency control, all
  events are distributed to all other users; multiple active cursors
  that show user names and current action (draw, delete, ...);

  Central registration daemon that handles newcommers.

- GroupWriter
  Knowledge Science Institute, Univ. of Calgary

  Notion: should contain all the features of existing commercial
  wordprocessing systems. full versioning facilities, being able to
  maintain multiple versions, reproduce older versions and compare
  different versions; complexities can be hidden by the user interface

  Using a commercial wordprocessing engine as its core element

  Text editor; storage granularity is a paragraph; linear text
  structure; versioning for paragraphs and for the structure;
  possibility to choose between alternative paragraphs (versions)
  or to merge alternative paragraphs (with help of the system).

  The existence of different alternatives is indicated by marks
  in the editor window. Annotations are indicated in the same way.

  Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation
  Austin, TX

  * text (mainly short document, outlines)
  * very tight coupled cooperation (two users editing the same word ...);
    propagation of actions by character, WYSIWIS (strict and relaxed)
  * text is fully replicated
  * special concurrency control method; ordering and transformation of
  * access rights, different views possible

- Instant Update
  On Technology (for Macintosh)
  (info in MacUser Jan 92)

  Sister product of Meeting Maker. Timestamp paragraphs and sorts
  changes different users have done to the same document. A push on
  the 'update-button' updates other users changes to the
  document. Users may edit off-line. The users get a message if the
  'master-document' is changed.

- Iris
  Technische Universitaet Muenchen, Michael Koch
  Iris is distributed multiuser multimedia editor. It handles
  hierarchical structured documents. The handling of the medium 
  contents is separated from the storage of the structure. 

  The storage is fully replicated (in the moment only realized for
  the structure, text contents and graphic contents).
  Synchronization is handled with locks. Concurrency control is based
  on a voting scheme. In the future a optimistic versioning scheme will
  be applied.


  Hypermedia system, single logical database (physically distributed
  across network): master server;
  optimistic concurrency control: does not guarantee that one is able
  to save changes after editing!

  Linear version thread for the individual frames and framesets 

- MACE (Mother of All Concurrent Editors)
  Computer and Information Sciences Department, University of Florida

  Text editor; tightly coupled, synchronous cooperation and loosely coupled,
  asynchronous cooperation is supported. Synchronization with explicit
  locks of any size (no pre-defined granularity).

  Multi-level server architecture; concurrency control by central server

  University College London, Cambridge University

  MESSIE is a environment for collaborative editing, that supports the
  collaborative creation of larger documents by teams of geographically
  distributed authors, that work on heterogeneous systems.

  Shared filestore via Email; all authors may read all files in the
  filestore and may add comments.

  Requirements: system should be simple to install, maintain and
  port; storage overhead for the documents should be kept to a minimum;
  it should be possible to manage documents remotely as well as locally;
  Policy-free collaboration; not everybody has synchronous connection or
  possibility to work remotely on another machine

  Implementation by the integration of existing tools: shared filestore,
  electronic mail, version control tool

- Mjolner-project
  Lund University, Sweden
  Semi-(a)synchronous collaborative editing for hierarchical
  structured documents;
  attempt to integrate synchronous and asynchronous editing.

  Based on the Mjolner project (oo software development environment)
  concurrency control by fine grained versioning

  awareness: 1 evolution graph; 2 presentation of active diffs (shows
  differences between revisions or alternatives of the document)

- MultimETH
  ETH Z"urich

  Allows small distributed workgroups to jointly edit multimedia
  documents and to conduct an audio conference at the same time. The
  prototype system is based on OSI upper layer protocols and runs over
  a variety of networks including TCP/IP...

  Part of a conference system;
  chairman, who chooses access control policy in conference: none 
  (social protocols on audio channel), access control by tokens,
  invite by chairman

  Documents are hierarchical structured (ODA), hierarchical locks of
  access writes on sub-trees

- Neptune 
  Tektronix, Inc

  Distributed multiuser hypertext system (storage for CAD systems);
  central server; transactions

  capability for complete version histories at the granularity of
  'writes' from a text editor; it is possible to see any version
  of a hyperdocument

- PREP (work in preparation editor)
  Carnegie Mellon University

  Same goals as Quilt: support of asynchronous implicit interaction
  by change of text documents and annotation.
  Basic coordination by access rights.

- Quilt

  Quilt supports asynchronous, implicit interaction on text documents;
  different types of annotations (private note, public comment);
  asynchronous messages to selected partners;

  Basic coordination by the access rights, roles;
  common database for the documents;

  Realized on the basis of standard software: Orion database,
  X-Windows, Xt

  Quilt hybrid of a multi-user hypermedia, computer-conferencing and
  multimedia electronic mail system. people have different roles in
  the production of a document. centralized database system. document
  structure consists of a basic tree (consisting of base document with
  n annotations), comment text or voice (private comments, public
  comments, directed messages), system and user log (system log:
  system messages like 'edited section 2.2 for 2 hours; 15 of 45
  paragraphs changed', user log: messages by user)

  Toronto University

  Prototype system for collaborative synchronous writing. Designed to
  support both focused and independent work. Assumes that people will
  communicate via telephone or an AV connection. text modifications
  immediately appear on all text windows. telepointers are
  provided. users are provided continuous feedback of other
  collaborators working locations in the document with color coded
  scroll bar for each user, indicating the current locations of
  collaborators. The text is locked at the users text selection
  level. This means that it is possible for collaborators to work
  within the same line of text.

  SASSE: support for brainstorming, outlining, reviewing. views
  provides information about who the collaborators are, where in the
  document they are working, and what they are doing. An annotation
  mechanism have been added to allow authors to exchange notes and
  comments. A version mechanism shows which part of the document where
  changed by whom.

  Non-optimistic locking of regions


  Supports synchr. and asynchr. collaborative creation of
  hyperdocuments such as manuals, articles, proposals etc. Provides
  several different activity spaces, which could be seen as
  task-specific browsers. The users interact with four activity space
  browsers dedicated to the tasks of the content generation and
  structuring, planning, arguing and writing. The basic objects in
  SEPIA are atomic nodes, composite nodes and labeled links. Multiple
  browsers on the screen displays different composite nodes. The state
  of an object is signaled by using colors. Used in collaboration
  SEPIA supports three different modes of collaborative writing
  (individual work, loosely coupled and tightly coupled mode) and a
  smooth transition between them. WYSIWIS in tightly coupled mode.

  Hypertext authoring system consisting of various activity spaces
  used for structuring, planning, arguing and writing documents under
  a rhetorical perspective. three modes of collaboration: individual
  work, loosely coupled mode and tightly coupled mode. smooth
  transition between these modes of collaboration with automatic node
  locking and 'author awareness' when somebody is in the same node for
  loosely coupled work; shared views, telepointing, audio-visual
  connection for tightly coupled work.

  current CSCW systems do not support different collaboration models
  at the same tome, nor do they allow for parallel work on a shared
  information base or alternative states of a shared information base.
  -> individual work, loosely-coupled work, tightly coupled work
  transitions between the modes are triggered by the authors
  navigational actions or by explicit conference requests

  CoVer, a contextual version server (hypermedia version server,
  realized as extension to cooperative hypermedia server CHS)
  represents versioned objects by so called multi-state objects (mobs)
  mobs hold history of a single object, tasks store history of a group
  of objects.

  CoVer offers task oriented version support

- Shared Books

  'publication management' system based on the Xerox ViewPoint 
  document processing system.

  Container for different documents (or parts of documents).
  These can be accessed by several users at the same time;
  explicit locking per sub object; simple revision control;
  collaborative editing of one object is not possible;

- ShrEdit
  University of Michigan

  Co-authoring system for Macintosh. WYSIWIS editor. Multiple users
  may edit the same file. can be used with MacWrite, MacDraw and
  MacPaint. Similar to 'Aspects' but locks on the character level.

  Each collaborator has an identical view of the document the group is
  working on (WYSIWIS). To enter text, you select an insert point and
  type normally. Your input is automatically sent to the server if you
  are idle for a specified time period. If you place your cursor at a
  point someone else has selected, you are locked out until that
  person finishes. The status window shows who is currently editing
  and who is tracking (i.e watching what someone else types as it is
  being typed). users with sufficient memory can run two ShrEDIT
  sessions under Apples multitasking system, enabling them to maintain
  seperate planning and text documents. A local word processor could
  run as a third task for private notes. Interaction parameters such
  as the number of seconds of idle time before new text is sent to the
  server can be set by the users.

  Synchronous group writing system which allows for the fine grained
  editing of text. no prescribed structure for collaborative work,
  relying on the authors to form some method of working
  together. private and shared (public) views, track another authors

  locks shared windows at the level of text selections. no telepointers.
  "find" other users; "track" other users
  lack of structure

  minimal system constraint: synchronous shared editing tool designed
  for use in face-to-face design meetings. users can work
  simultaneously in any part of the document, although insertion
  points are locked, so that no two insertion points can be

- Vopex-2KM-Sun
  Shared Editor on a single screen (two mice, two keyboards ...)


4. See bibliography-editors FAQ


David S. Stodolsky      Euromath Center     University of Copenhagen   Tel.: +45 38 33 03 30  Fax: +45 38 33 88 80. (C)

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