Sunday, May 20, 2007

Domino geek meeting in Stockholm

There will be a meeting in Stockholm (Sweden) on May 24, for people working with Lotus Domino and related software. The meeting is hosted by company Ekakan.
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Friday, May 18, 2007

You've got a message... from the Second Life

Nicholas Chase has published an interesting article on IBM Developerworks. It's about making it possible to chat with people in Second Life (SL), without opening SL program. That's a rather innovative solution and I think that many SL users would appreciate such possibility.

It works like this:
1) SL person clicks an object (a picture, a cube) which says "Type message now and it will be send to John Doe"
2)SL person types the message, like "Hi John, can you hear me?", while being near the object.
3)The object can "see" the typed text and sends it to a web servlet using HTTP call. Web server has a connection to Sametime server through Sametime bot.
4) Sametime bot forwards the message to John Doe, who is logged in on Sametime network.
5) John Doe has his Sametime client started and receives a message from Sametime Bot, saying "Hi John, can you hear me?".
6) John Doe types "Yes, how can I help you?" as the response to bot in the Sametime client chat window.
7) Bot outputs the answer to the servlet and the servlet outputs it back to the requesting SL object.
8) The object shows message "Yes, how can I help you?" in SL. Anyone near the object can see the message. So you actually do not chat with the person, but with the object itself, which "broadcasts" your message to all people nearby. I think your response message can in theory also be a private message send only to that person, but the person's request message is always visible to others.

I will try to implement the suggested solution and see if it can be used for something more useful than spam-chatting with people near chatboxes :)
Like having a "chat conference meeting" where people do not need to be logged in to SL, and actually do not even need an SL account. Can be interesting solution for chat-only SL meetings hold by companies like IBM. It should be possible to sort away chats from people other than the meeting's chairman. Just imagine an online conference where instead of people's avatars you see a lot of chatting cubes :)

I will also try to connect the solution to my company's Sametime Botand use STWidget as a chat client. Having AJAX/Flash-based STWidget web client as chat interface would eliminate the need to download and install Sametime client.

There are thousands of virtual shops in SL selling virual clothes, virtual furniture and stuff, and some shop owners would probably like to have an option to chat with customers even when they are not logged in to SL. Not sure if there is already some software for this #.

Following things are to consider when developing SL-to-Sametime chat solution for more than 1 user:
* Noone in SL knows what Sametime is and don't care much either. A Sametime-less option would be great (Apache+MySQL+PHP).
* Sametime bot must be hosted somewhere.
* Same Sametime bot should be able to handle tens of thousands of objects and hundreds of simultaneous chats. I guess our Sametime bot can be extended for this purpose, but it's still a difficult task. Probably several bots at several locations would be needed.
* People do not have Sametime client and don't want one. Can be solved with STWidget though.
* People do not have access to Sametime servers. Can be temporary solved by using IBM's demo server.
* The biggest question: will Sametime add too much overhead to the solution, without actually making it easier to develop and maintain? Theoretically a message can be sent directly to STWidget chat client without going through Sametime network.

I'll publish the results of my tests.