Introduction to groupware

Groupware is software that allows groups working on the internet. The groupware is also known as collaborative software. Groupware software provides interfaces through which people who have the same goal can work together and accomplish their tasks. The groupware software offers a sort of electrical meeting. In the earlier time, the groupware software was known as the Intentional Group Processes Plus Software to Support Them.

This system of collaborative computing was initiated by Douglas Engelbart in the year 1951. The first product of the groupware software was delivered in the year 1990. Big companies like Boeing, IBM had started using the electrical meetings for their internal projects. The groupware software had been majorly used by the Lotus company.

Classification of Groupware

The classification of the Groupware software is done based on the following listed functions:

  • In collaborative computing, communication is based on computers. This direct communication of the people increased the number of participants.
  • This collaborative computing makes easier to extract and emphasize those views which are communal among all people.
  • The collaborative computing allows sharing the applications openly.

Characteristics of Groupware

The groupware software can be of two natures, first is synchronous and the other is asynchronous. What are synchronous groupware applications? Synchronous groupware is a system that offers collaborative computing in real-time. Here, real-time means the clients or people are physically separated to discuss the project. They do their communication with computers, but in real-time. The requirement of the synchronous groupware applications is the same; coordination of the real-time people. Along with this, people require shared audio channels through which communication can be done easily.

What is the asynchronous groupware system? An asynchronous groupware system also offers collaborative computing but in the asynchronous groupware system, it is not mandatory for all the people who are working together to contribute or interact at the same time. They can do their work at different times too. The examples of the asynchronous groupware system are listed below:

  • Electronic mails
  • Workflow
  • Hypertexts systems like web
  • File sharing systems in which multiple users can edit the same document. For example, Google sheets, etc.
  • Document annotation
  • Writing systems (Collaborative)

The use of the groupware systems on a large scale contributed to the development of the web. With the help of the groupware system, facilities like instant messaging, group calendars, web conferencing, document sharing, etc. was developed.

Implementation & Design Issues of Groupware Systems

There are some implementation as well as the design issues of the groupware system. They are listed below:

  • In the groupware system, prolonged existence is needed in some sections. For example, voice communication, as well as chat communication, vanishes after the end of the section. The designer has to consider this information in case they are needed somewhere for the implementation etc. Moreover, the online file cabinets, as well as the virtual rooms, exists for a longer time.
  • The problem which always has remained in the groupware system is the authentication of the user. It can be easily identified who is engaged and who is not engaged in the session when the user login is enforced or when the end to end connections are established. Moreover, unmoderated as well as audio communication has risks of the lurkers. Lurkers are those people who get the information of all the work which has been done as he/she is present during the communication, but they do not announce that they are engaged in the session.
  • The bandwidth is the other major issue in the groupware systems. The bandwidth issues restrict the users to use all the tools of the groupware system. This issue is majorly faced in mobile phones.
  • Concurrency issues are generated in the groupware systems when multiple outputs and input streams are brought into the applications.
  • Over-communication, a lot of noise and the information are overloaded in the real-time communication of the groupware system.

Level of Collaboration

Based on the level of the collaboration of the groupware system, the system is divided into three categories. They are listed below:

  • Communication– This is called the interchange of the information which is unstructured. For example, An IM chat, phone call, etc.
  • Conferencing– Conferencing is referred to as the interactive and collaborating work for a communal goal. For example, voting, brainstorming, etc.
  • Co-ordination– Co-ordination refers to an interdependent network as well as complex. This work is done for a communal goal. The best example of this would be a sports team. On a sports team, every player has to give his/her contribution at the right time. Along with this, they need to handle the game in the toughest situations too. Every player is contributing to the win of the team. The mistake of even a player can lead to defeat. This is an example of interdependent working.