Identification and use of guidelines for the design of computer supported collaborative writing tools

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As groupware and workflow technologies become widely accepted, it is important to identify and clarify best practice at all stages of the development of those systems. One approach to the promulgation of best practice is to develop clear and effective guidelines for application in system development. This paper is primarily concerned with the identification of guidelines to drive the design and implementation of one class of groupware — collaborative writing systems. In particular, consideration is given to guidelines for systems which support groups of distributed collaborating authors working asynchronously. Three relevant areas are investigated. First, social and integration issues of generic groupware are presented. Second, the design of existing collaborative writing tools is addressed. Third, models of both individual writers and collaborative writing tasks are discussed. Guidelines are drawn from each area. The guidelines have been adopted in the design of MILO, a collaborative writing system. MILO is briefly described and the way in which the guidelines have been implemented in MILO is reviewed. In conclusion, insights gained from informal observations of MILO in use for both single and multiple author tasks are presented.