A framework for real time collaborative editing in a mobile replicated architecture

Citro, S 2007, A framework for real time collaborative editing in a mobile replicated architecture, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Computer Science and Information Technology, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title A framework for real time collaborative editing in a mobile replicated architecture
Author(s) Citro, S
Year 2007
Abstract Mobile collaborative work is a developing sub-area of Computer Supported Collaborative Work (CSCW). The future of this field will be marked by a significant increase in mobile device usage as a tool for co-workers to cooperate, collaborate and work on a shared workspace in real-time to produce artefacts such as diagrams, text and graphics regardless of their geographical locations.

A real-time collaboration editor can utilise a centralised or a replicated architecture. In a centralised architecture, a central server holds the shared document as well as manages the various aspects of the collaboration, such as the document consistency, ordering of updates, resolving conflicts and the session membership. Every user's action needs to be propagated to the central server, and the server will apply it to the document to ensure it results in the intended document state. Alternatively, a decentralised or replicated architecture can be used where there is no central server to store the shared document. Every participating site contains a copy of the shared document (replica) to work on separately. Using this architecture, every user's action needs to be broadcast to all participating sites so each site can update their replicas accordingly.

The replicated architecture is attractive for such applications, especially in wireless and ad-hoc networks, since it does not rely on a central server and a user can continue to work on his or her own local document replica even during disconnection period. However, in the absence of a dedicated server, the collaboration is managed by individual devices. This presents challenges to implement collaborative editors in a replicated architecture, especially in a mobile network which is characterised by limited resource reliability and availability.

This thesis addresses challenges and requirements to implement group editors in wireless ad-hoc network environments where resources are scarce and the network is significantly less stable and less robust than wired fixed networks. The major contribution of this thesis is a proposed framework that comprises the proposed algorithms and techniques to allow each device to manage the important aspects of collaboration such as document consistency, conflict handling and resolution, session membership and document partitioning. Firstly, the proposed document consistency algorithm ensures the document replicas held by each device are kept consistent despite the concurrent updates by the collaboration participants while taking into account the limited resource of mobile devices and mobile networks. Secondly, the proposed conflict management technique provides users with conflict status and information so that users can handle and resolve conflicts appropriately. Thirdly, the proposed membership management algorithm ensures all participants receive all necessary updates and allows users to join a currently active collaboration session. Fourthly, the proposed document partitioning algorithm provides flexibility for users to work on selected parts of the document and reduces the resource consumption. Finally, a basic implementation of the framework is presented to show how it can support a real time collaboration scenario.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Computer Science and Information Technology
Keyword(s) Groupware
Computer software
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Created: Tue, 22 Feb 2011, 15:01:35 EST by Guy Aron
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