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GROUPWARE by Tom Brinck (1998)
"Usability First" site of Diamond Bullet Design

1. Introduction
2. Typical Applications
3. Groupware Designing Issues

1. Introduction

Groupware is technology designed to facilitate the work of groups. This technology may be used to communicate, cooperate, solve problems, compete or negociate. The term refers to technologies relying on modern computer networks at most such as email, newsgroups, videophones or chat.

We recognize two categories:

  1. synchronous or real-time and asynchronous
    depending on whether or not the users work together at the same TIME.
  2. colocated or face-to-face and non-colocated or distance
    depending on whether the users work together at the same PLACE or not.

CSCW (Computer-Supported Cooperative Work) refers to the field of study which examines the design, adoption and use of groupware. Groupware design differs from traditional user interface because it involves understanding groups and how people behave in them and also, understanding of networking technology and how it affects the user. So, things like system responsiveness and reliability, homogeneity of users, and ease-of-use are things to be considered.

What makes groupware so significant over single-user systems is that it facilitates communication, makes it possible, reduces costs and time, brings together multiple perspectives, facilitates group problem-solving and so many more.

Groupware is significantly more difficult to get right than traditional software. In order to succeed, it has to be adopted by most or whole the target group. That's why usability and design issues have to be studied carefully.


2. Typical Applications

So, the different types of groupware applications that exist (per category) are:

  1. Asynchronous Groupware
  2. Synchronous Groupware


3. Groupware Designing Issues

The method used for obtaining a design for groupware system has a huge impact on the final result. So, the issues that arise are:


©Vivian Synteta (09/06/99) updated 10/06/99
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