Jeffrey T. Fong, William F. Mitchell and Zhengdong Wang, ACMD
P. Darcy Barnett, Scientific Computing Environments Division
Barry Bernstein, Illinois Institute of Technology
David E. Dietrich, Desatek, Inc.
Sunil Saigal, Carnegie-Mellon University
Earl Craighill, SRI International, Inc.
Three-way simultaneous communication with shared audio and video screen of text and graphics for a client engineer, a design engineer, and a consultant in geographically separated locations (Gaithersburg, MD, Pittsburgh, PA, and Chicago, IL) was demonstrated using a prototype toolkit named Synchronous Collaborative Object-Oriented Toolkit (SCOOT). Developed by Craighill, Lang, et al, of SRI International under an ARPA research contract (J. Fong, technical manager), SCOOT provides real-time multimedia collaboration by synchronizing application states and ensuring shared tool control with a minimum amount of impact on a user's working style or an application's code or structure.
Since 1988 ARPA has funded close to $100 million on a research project known as DICE (Defense Initiative on Concurrent Engineering), and SCOOT is one of the best results ($2.5 million over three years) that warrant further testing before commercialization. As technical manager of the ARPA contract project, Fong simulated a test environment at NIST to conduct beta-test of SCOOT and found several bugs that were subsequently fixed. SCOOT is better than others on the horizon because it is application-software independent. If proven robust and commercialized, SCOOT may help launch the nation's information highway project to a higher level where engineers with access to complex software packages (e.g., Fortran codes of 0.5 million lines or above) will benefit.
The software demo project was being done at ACMD because of (a) availability of ACMD's expertise and computing environment, and (b) close working relationship between code developer and tester. The project is time-critical because there is a schedule to meet in getting the prototype software to the market.
A draft demo manual for SCOOT within NIST is being written for April 1995 publication. Demo sessions involving NIST, Carnegie-Mellon, and IIT are being worked on for possible staging in Sept. 1995.