Research and Advances
Computing Applications Computer-supported cooperative work in design


Systems design is a complex activity requiring the cooperation of multi-disciplinary teams. Most of the time, these teams are located in different places and use different software applications for various purposes. Distribution and heterogeneity obstacles make the work of design teams challenging. This appeals for new approaches to support teams.
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Collaborative design environments are among the promising approaches being investigated. These environments should not only automate individual tasks in the manner of traditional computer-aided engineering applications, but further enable team members to share information and coordinate their activities within the context of a design project.

The articles in this special section are devoted to new developments occurring in the collaborative design field. Multiple aspects are discussed, ranging from the importance of the definition of interdependencies between collaborators to the role of software platforms as a support to the work of these collaborators. Java-based, XML-based, and Web-enabled collaborative approaches are among the major features that characterize the current collaborative design field.

In the article, Klein et al. consider collaborative design as a challenge because strong interdependencies between design issues make it difficult to converge on a single design that satisfies these dependencies and is acceptable to all participants. Complex systems research has much to offer to the understanding of this convergence process.

In Wang et al.’s article, an approach toward building a Java 3D-enabled cyber workspace is presented. This approach aims at engaging a dispersed working group in a shared workspace, which allows the team members to share real-time data through a set of interactive Java 3D models.

Bergenti et al. present a cooperative platform called C/Webtop that allows the interactive use of different kinds of applications in a synchronous mode. The access to the collaborative sessions of the platform is possible from different kinds of (fixed or mobile) terminals and (wired and wireless) networks.

The article by Sedaghat et al. describes a Java program that implements the server-based SHA-1 page-digest algorithm (SSPA) that verifies the integrity of an HTTP response to a user’s request.

Palma et al. present the requirements and specifications of a spatial decision-support collaborative system in environmental projects. Through the system, users share scalar and spatial data through the Web, using XML as a standard for information interchange.

The future of the collaborative design is full of challenges. With the globalization trend extending across the world, new approaches and tools are needed. Intelligent components are among the technologies that will play an important role in supporting collaborative teams. Besides globalization, the widespread growth of wireless technologies is another trend that needs to be considered. No longer confined to the office and regardless of location, designers can use mobile devices to keep a constant and active involvement in any collaborative design project.

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