Title: Active Mail: A Framework For Integrated Groupware Applications
Authors: Yaron Goldberg, Marilyn Safran, William Silverman, Ehud Shapiro
Citation: Groupware '92, Pg. 222-224
Reprinted in: Pages 501-504, Baecker
Active mail is a system for compiler mediated interaction. It allows receivers of active messages to interact with the sender, with future recipients, and with remote, distributed multi-user applications. In this system, persistent active connections are maintained in hierarchical, notifiable folders.
Active messages are active entities that contain communication ports. An active message manifested as a window on the userís screen, contains facilities that allow cooperation with other users.
The universal nature of email is the source of its power, but it fails to support the needs of computer mediated conversations and document exchange. Active mail handles the above problems using a conversation agent and document agent respectively. Active mail also provides a protocol and user interface to achieve computer initiated interaction. Active connections and notifications mechanisms are used to handle active mail and changes made to it at a later stage.
The active mail configuration consists of agents interconnected via the two ported bi-directional communicational channels. There are two types of agents, users and applications. Abstractly, users and applications interact via bi-directional communication ports. Each application comes with one or more application specific windows and all support a uniform way to view and interact with participants. Users are provided with an interface that allows them to spawn new application agents, as well as with a fol der system, to manage their application ports.
To summarize, Active mail can accommodate a wide variety of applications. However, even though the Active mail architecture provides a powerful generalization of email, it does not provide a similar generalization of shared file systems.
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