In situations where groups of people collaborate, it is often the case that documents are critical to the collaboration, either as the goal of collaboration or as the main shared information space on which the collaboration is based. Increasingly, these documents exist in highly structured electronic form and are distributed. The goal of CASCADE research effort is to develop a testbed to explore the impact of various kinds of user agents on collaborators, the collaboration process, and the products of collaboration.
CASCADE stands for Computer Augmented Support for Collaborative Authoring and Document Editing. CASCADE is designed to allow groups of people to work together on documents. This work includes writing, revising, commenting, discussing, etc. It is important to note that CASCADE is very different from a personal wordprocessor like Word or WordPerfect. It is designed to support groups of people working on a single set of structured documents over a network. Where personal word processors focus on formatting tools, spellcheckers, and other such aids, CASCADE keeps track of the parts of the documents, its links, and what the members of the group are doing. This reflects CASCADE's focus on helping groups of people to work together. The greatest difficulty in group authoring is in coordinating the actions of the various authors and reviewers. While CASCADE can restrict and control user actions, the main goal has not been to restrict what group members can and can't do, but to keep track of what is being done and to summarize that activity for others.
CASCADE is a work in progress. Reviewers of this document and the system are encouraged to provide feedback on how the system might be further refined. Comments, observations, criticisms, and suggestions are most welcome and may be directed to:
Michael B. Spring Department of Information Science University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA 15260 firstname.lastname@example.org