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October 20, 1999

The Internet as a Groupware Platform: O'Reilly Publishes Jon Udell's Practical Internet Groupware

SEBASTOPOL, CA--Collaboration. From its academic roots to today's busy commerce sites, the Internet has always been about collaboration: providing a means for people to communicate and work together effectively. On the Internet of the future, the concept of collaboration will move front and center, transforming the way we work, and the way the Internet is used.

"Every once in a while a book comes along that makes me wake up and say 'Wow!' Jon Udell's Practical Internet Groupware is such a book," says Tim O'Reilly, President and Publisher of O'Reilly & Associates. "How to build effective applications for conferencing and other forms of internet-enabled collaboration is one of the most important questions developers are wrestling with today. Anyone who wants to build an effective intranet, or to better manage their company's interactions with customers, or to build new kinds of applications that bring people together, will never think about these things in the same way after reading this book."

"More than anyone else I know, Jon has thrown off the shackles of the desktop computing paradigm that has shaped our thinking for the better part of the last two decades. He works in a world in which the net, rather than any particular operating system, is truly the application development platform," explains O'Reilly. "Jon has laid his finger on the most important change in the computer industry since the introduction of the Web."

"The Internet is a groupware platform," says Udell. "It's easy to lose sight of that fact. Consider the Web. It was invented to enable scientists to collaborate. As it became a mainstream phenomenon, it morphed into something that many people think of as more like broadcast television than groupware. A few years ago, as a senior editor at BYTE Magazine, I reviewed software and wrote about technologies and industry trends. Everything changed in the spring of 1995 when I became BYTE's executive editor for new media. My charter was to do what every high-tech magazine felt compelled to do in 1995: jump on the Web bandwagon. It was a dream assignment that I tackled with gusto. At first I focused on clever and efficient ways to transform BYTE into an electronic publication. But a funny thing happened on the way to the Web. Just weeks into the job, it dawned on me that our content online wasn't just a publication. I began to see that it was fast becoming a suite of Internet-based groupware applications. And I began to see myself as primarily a developer of such applications."

"Any developer worth his salary in tomorrow's market is going to need a cross-platform toolbox much like the one Jon applies in this book," says O'Reilly.

Drawn from the author's real world experience, Practical Internet Groupware describes the tools and technologies for building and rapidly deploying groupware applications, and it also discusses the design philosophy and usability issues that determine the success or failure of any groupware endeavor.

According to Udell, the key to success lies in using simple tools, often Open Source, that effectively blend in established Internet technologies that have always had a collaborative aspect (SMTP, NNTP) with new technologies that enhance our ability to manage collaborative documents (HTTP, XML). The result is an approach that codifies the idea that many Web content providers have long suspected: yesterday's online content is fast becoming tomorrow's network-based applications.

Online Resources

Practical Internet Groupware
By Jon Udell
1st Edition, October 1999
ISBN: 1-56592-537-8, 524 pages, $29.95 (US$)

About O'Reilly

O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.

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