DISTRIBUTED COLLABORATION: ENGINEERING PRACTICE REQUIREMENTS
Designing a structure follows a pattern of creating a structural design concept, executing a finite element analysis and developing a design model. A project was undertaken to create computer support for executing these tasks within a collaborative environment. This study focuses on developing a software architecture that integrates the various structural design aspects into a seamless functional collaboratory that satisfies engineering practice requirements. The collaboratory is to support both homogeneous collaboration i.e. between users operating on the same model and heterogeneous collaboration i.e. between users operating on different model types. Collaboration can take place synchronously or asynchronously, and the information exchange is done either at the granularity of objects or at the granularity of models. The objective is to determine from practicing engineers which configurations they regard as best and what features are essential for working in a collaborative environment. Based on the suggestions of these engineers a specification of a collaboration configuration that satisfies engineering practice requirements will be developed.