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CASCADE has an elaborate system for supporting software agents to assist you in your work. The current implementation of CASCADE has a full framework for supporting agents, but has not yet implemented any full fledged agents. However, for demonstration purpose, three agents have been developed and are included with most distributions of CASCADE.

Awareness Agent The awareness agent is designed to allows users to keep track of group members in a synchronous fashion. This agent presents the user with a set of pictures of group members who are currently using CASCADE. As the group members start and stop sessions, the gallery of pictures is updated to reflect the identity of members who are available. Clicking on a picture starts an interactive talk session with the selected user. If a user has no picture registered, then a label made up of the username is substituted. Figure 37 shows two group members who are currently using CASCADE. Also, the picture shows a document path which each member is looking. Extensions to this agent will provide for spawning other communication processes. For example, if a subset of the available members were chosen, then an interactive chalkboard session might be initiated.

Figure 37: Awareness Agent

Communications Agent The communications agent is designed to help you get in touch with people. While is designed to work in conjunction with CASCADE data stores, it may also be used independently. When activated, a window will appear that will allow you to add people to a list. This is accomplished by pressing the ``AddUser'' button. By specifying a user and machine, you will cause the agent to check that location for the named user. By simply adding a name, Communication agent will check the current machine as well as any machines that user has logged into CASCADE from. If a given individual has the checkbox by their name turned on, Communication agent will begin to search for them and let you know when they are located. Once found, Communication agent will ask you if you wish to start a talk session. If you answer yes, one will be started and your request to contact that individual will be turned off. To turn off the communications agent, simply press the button on the agent bar and the agent will be toggled off. See figure 38.

Figure 38: Communication Agent dialog box

Chalkboard Agent The chalkboard agent is based on the wscrawl software written by Brian Wilson of Hewlett Packard Co. (Email: The word ``wscrawl'' stands for ``window-scrawl''. The chalkboard produced by wscrawl may be shared by a number of people at the same time. When you press the chalkboard agent button, the software checks to see what document you are looking at, and what section of the document you are in. It takes that text and places it on the chalkboard, opens the board on the screens of all the activegif members of the group the document belongs to assigning each member a different color (see figure 39). Keep in mind that the chalkboard is activated only when additional members of the group are active. It opens up a separate window on each participant's display. From that point onward, each participant sees the actions and ideas of every other participant as they occur. Each individual may simply watch, or participate at any moment. Any individual may exit out of the session at any time without affecting the other participants. The chalkboard is deactivated by pressing the agent tool bar is the same as communication agent tool bar.

Figure 39: Chalkboard Agent

next up previous contents
Next: Color Use in CASCADE Up: Users Guide Introduction to Previous: Exit

Michael Spring
Fri Jun 27 17:00:29 EDT 1997