GUI Bytes

Quit Talking and Show Me!

collaborative software offers a way to significantly improve communications between the office and the field

part 1

part 2

part 3


While the whiteboard is useful for sharing graphic information, it still requires one person to copy an image (a drawing, for example) and paste it onto the whiteboard. All parties may then mark up that image as if they were writing on paper. Anyone can circle a detail, draw an arrow, or write a note.

Collaborative software goes far beyond the whiteboard, and lets people share the images that are on their computer monitors. If you and I are using collaborative software, your monitor will show you what I see on my screen.

If I am using a word processor, you will see the document I have open. If I am using a CAD program, you will see the drawing on my screen. As I turn a page, or zoom in on a detail, you will see exactly what I see. If we are discussing a way to change a detail, I can go through drawings until we find the right one, then copy it onto the whiteboard for you to mark up.

Some programs take this interaction to a higher level. They allow me to give you control of my computer. Now you will be able to go through the drawings or page through the specifications without my help. The amazing thing is that the only software we both have to have is the collaboration software itself! If I have AutoCAD you can use it - even if you don't have it on your computer. Similarly, you might be the only one to have Excel, yet I could manipulate your spreadsheet.

These programs offer a way to significantly improve communications between the architect's office and the field, or between consultants in different cities.

virtual presence

Imagine this typical situation. The architect receives a call from the field. "There is a column right where the drain is supposed to be. What do we do?" Both parties log on to the Internet, and fire up their collaboration programs. The construction administrator attaches a small webcam to the notebook computer, and the architect is able to see the actual conditions. The CA then takes over the architect's CAD program and pulls up the relevant details. Using the whiteboard, they sketch up a solution.

Question: How would you reach the same conclusion in any other way?

  1999 Sheldon Wolfe, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA, 
on the web at 
November 1999

home page

Web site design and content Copyright  1995-2004 Sheldon Wolfe

Material from CSI Chapter newsletters used with permission.