14 May 2010

Live Notes

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For the past few months I have been involved with the project BigBlueButton, an open-source web conferencing system. That, along with looking into Etherpad’s source code, really ignited my interest in real-time collaboration technologies.

I started an open-source project to extend BigBlueButton with real-time document collaboration to the conference’s participants. The project is still at a very early stage, but will be out for beta testing in the next release of BigBlueButton.

Before I start ranting about the project, which I am tentatively and temporarily calling it “Live Notes”, let me first show you a demo. In this demo, anything you type in the textbox will be synced, in real-time, with anyone else seeing this page. It also fully supports copying and pasting. Multiple users can edit the document at the same time with full document history. If someone else has this page open (hopefully), you can both play with each other to see the live typing in action. If not, you can open this same page in two browser windows and watch how the documents are being synced as you type.


This movie requires Flash Player 9

The back-end is written in Scala and Java, while the front-end is in Flex and Javascript. The Flex interface was necessary for integration with BigBlueButton, which also has a Flex interface. Both the server and client have evolved a long way the past couple of months, and I definitely learned a lot out of it in the process. In future blog posts, I’ll be discussing some of the technologies that have been put to use to make this work.

In the meantime, have a look at the server’s source-code here.

Finally, the project is still in a very early stage. If you notice any glitches or crashing, or if you have any feedback or suggestions feel free to contact me.

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