Synchrone Kooperation in der Produktentwicklung
Collaboration support in the field of product realization and CAD is an important topic of the ZGDV department CAD & Teleservices. Former and ongoing research projects aim for applying groupware technologies to this important business sector. The focus lies on tools that are easy to use for the engineers and affordable even for small and medium sized enterprises. This implies an approach with minimal bandwidth requirements. Research efforts concentrated on using actual standards for the communication protocol and data exchange. The second generation of the collaborative modeler uses CORBA as a middleware for object oriented client server communication in heterogeneous environments. It can be used to connect an arbitrary number of distributed users in a design conference where 3D data can jointly be visualized and modified. Unix workstations as well as Windows PCs are supported in a common session. The ongoing TOBACO project aims towards the development of tools for the integration of cooperation support in the field of CAD. These CORBA-based object oriented components should be useful in two ways: the implementation of new CSCW capable applications and the extension of existing systems. Recent results of ZGDV's TOBACO project are two synchronous groupware solutions on top of AutoCAD (a shared whiteboard and a conference plugin to connect two or more AutoCAD instances). There we find the collaboration support seamlessly integrated with the traditional working environment. The AutoCAD-based conferencing tools are actually used in a field trial in the shipbuilding industry to support distributed engineering. There we will receive valuable feedback from the users concerning functionality and usability of the tools.