Computer Systems Laboratory Colloquium

4:15PM, Wednesday, November 12, 1996
NEC Auditorium, Gates Computer Science Building B03

The PlaceWare Platform:
Web-based Collaborative Apps Made Simple

Pavel Curtis
Principal Architect
PlaceWare, Inc.

PlaceWare, a recent spin-off from the Xerox Palo Research Center (PARC), builds highly interactive, Web-based collaborative environments that are accessible to anyone who has a Java-enabled browser and a 28.8Kb modem. Our lead application is the PlaceWare Auditorium, which allows one or more people to give an interactive, online, multimedia presentation via the Web to hundreds or thousands of simultaneous attendees; the presentation can include slides (made in PowerPoint or any GIF-image editor), live annotation on the slide images, real-time polls of the audience, live audio from the presenter and those asking questions, private text and audio conversations in the auditorium's "rows", and other features.

This talk, however, is not primarily about the PlaceWare Auditorium product, but rather about the software infrastructure that made its swift implementation possible: the PlaceWare Platform. This collection of APIs, server structure, and support libraries for network communication, data persistence, user authentication and authorization, along with the PlaceWare "parts" library of reusable distributed-application components, made it possible for the first fully functional version of Auditorium to be built in just two man-months.

In this talk, I'll discuss the PlaceWare system architecture and facilities as they are made visible to application developers and illustrate the use of some of these facilities with source code from several sample PlaceWare applications. The PlaceWare Developer's Kit (PDK), which includes a fully functional PlaceWare server, complete API documentation, and full source code to many sample applications, is now in limited public beta-testing; I'll close my talk with an open invitation to join our free PDK evaluation program and start writing the applications that can turn a Web site from a passive collection of documents into a lively and productive populated place. For more information about the PDK beta-test, see .

About the speaker:

Pavel Curtis, an internationally recognized expert on online communities, is a Principal Architect and co-founder of PlaceWare, Inc.; his work there centers on investigating, designing, and implementing applications and systems to support and further develop the PlaceWare technology. The PlaceWare platform enables the rapid development of highly interactive, multimedia, shared, Java-based applications for large-group interaction and collaboration seamlessly integrated with the World-Wide Web.

Pavel was a member of the research staff at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) for over 13 years. At PARC, his focus was on the design and implementaton of programming languages, such as Smalltalk, Interlisp, Cedar and Scheme. He is the founder and chief administrator of LambdaMOO, one of the most popular recreational social virtual realities on the Internet. His LambdaMOO server software currently supports over 150 virtual communities on the Internet, including the original 8,000-member LambdaMOO community.

Much of Pavel's research and development work was the foundation for the Jupiter project at PARC, which served as the prototype for PlaceWare's product and technology.

Pavel is a frequent lecturer around the world at seminars and symposiums on virtual communities and Internet-based collaboration. He has published a number of papers, articles, and book chapters on online communities and collaboration.

Pavel was awarded an M.S. and Ph.D. in computer science from Cornell University in 1983 and 1990, respectively, and a B.A. from Antioch College in 1981.

Contact information:

Pavel Curtis
PlaceWare, Inc.
2037 Landings Drive
Mountain View, CA 94043
Phone: 415-944-0900
Fax: 415-944-0929