This paper presents an overview of GroupKit, a groupware toolkit
that lets developers build real-time desktop conferencing applications.
GroupKit was constructed from our belief that programming groupware
should be only slightly harder than building functionally similar
single-user systems. We have been able to significantly reduce the
implementation complexity of groupware through the key features that
comprise GroupKit. A \fIruntime infrastructure\fR automatically
manages the creation, interconnection, and communications of the
distributed processes that comprise conference sessions. A set of
\fIgroupware programming abstractions\fR allows developers to control
the behaviour of distributed processes, to take action on state changes,
and to share relevant data. \fIGroupware widgets\fR lets interface features
of value to conference participants to be easily added to groupware
applications. \fISession managers\fR-interfaces that let people create
and manage their meetings-are decoupled from groupware applications and
are built by developers to accommodate the group's working style.
Example GroupKit applications in a variety of domains have been implemented
with only modest effort.
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