TR2002-19

Instant Co-Browsing Lightweight Real-Time Collaborative Web Browsing


    •  Alan W. Esenther, "Instant Co-Browsing Lightweight Real-Time Collaborative Web Browsing", Tech. Rep. TR2002-19, Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories, Cambridge, MA, May 2002.
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      • @techreport{MERL_TR2002-19,
      • author = {Alan W. Esenther},
      • title = {Instant Co-Browsing Lightweight Real-Time Collaborative Web Browsing},
      • institution = {MERL - Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories},
      • address = {Cambridge, MA 02139},
      • number = {TR2002-19},
      • month = may,
      • year = 2002,
      • url = {http://www.merl.com/publications/TR2002-19/}
      • }

A lightweight collaborative web browsing system, that targets casual (non-technical) web users, is presented. This system allows remote participants to easily synchronize pointing, scrolling and browsing of uploaded content in their web browsers. Since instant messenging systems have become a very popular method for remote participants to engage in real-time text chat sessions, it is conjectured that this simple co-browsing system which allows remote participants to share and point at their pictures and web content (instead of just sharing text) could prove useful and fun, too. The collaboratively viewed web content could either pre-exist on a host web server or, in a more typical scenario, be dynamically uploaded by the remote participants themselves. A specific goal of this system is to keep the interactions extremely simple and safe. Any user should be able to use it intuitively with a single click; there are no pre-installation or pre-registration requirements. This system is based on simple polling-based scripting techniques that avoid intrusive mechanisms based on proxies or events. Most significantly, there is no reliance on any controls, applets, plug-ins or binary executables, since these would require the trust of participants and are virus-prone. It is the reliance upon such inconvenient helper programs, along with any pre-installation or pre-registration requirements, that makes existing co-browsing offerings more "heavyweight", and limits their appeal for casual collaboration.