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Collaboration. From its academic roots to the bustling commerce sites of today, the Internet has always been about collaboration: providing a means for people to communicate and work together effectively. But how do you build effective tools for collaboration? How do you build tools that are simple enough for people to really use, yet powerful enough to really facilitate collaboration? In 1995 Jon Udell became executive editor for new media at BYTE magazine, taking on the challenge of building an online presence for a traditional print publication. In meeting this challenge, he discovered that he was managing an online community, not just an online publication. He discovered that he was building not just a set of documents, but a suite of Internet-based groupware applications in which editors, writers, and readers all participated. Practical Internet Groupware details the lessons learned from that experience. Drawn from the author's real world experience, Practical Internet Groupware describes the tools and technologies for building and rapidly deploying groupware applications, and also discusses the design philosophy and usability issues that determine the success or failure of any groupware endeavor. The key to success lies in using simple tools, often open source, that effectively blend in established Internet technologies that have always had a collaborative aspect (SMTP, NNTP) with new technologies that enhance our ability to manage collaborative documents (HTTP, XML). The result is an approach that codifies the idea that many web content providers have long suspected: yesterday's online content is fast becoming tomorrow's network-based applications. In this book you'll learn how to:

  • Base groupware on standard Internet technologies (mail servers, news servers, and web servers)

  • Use simple server- and client-side scripts to automate creation, presentation, transmission, and search of electronic documents

  • Create a base of documents that contain semi-structured data representing much of the intellectual capital of an enterprise

  • Deploy these solutions in a way that scales from groups of a few collaborators to communities of thousands of users

If you've ever been disappointed watching a commercial groupware system used as little more than an expensive email client, or if you've ever wondered how to transform simple email, news, or web clients from document viewers into collaboration tools, then Practical Internet Groupware is for you.

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