Re:using croquet as an interaction platform for issue tracking ???

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Re:using croquet as an interaction platform for issue tracking ???

Hussayn Dabbous-2
Hi, all;

I am brand new to VR in general and to Croquet in special, although i am a programmer
having about 30 years of experience with all sorts of software development starting with
microcomputer programming in the midth of the 70's and ending up running a small software
development company specialised on webapplication technology.
So recently i took a brief look into some VR technologies, especially second life has
attracted me in first place which IMHO is very impressive namely its look and feel. That's
nice for leisure, but i am not quite convinced regarding second life as a platform for
serious working in the first world ;-).

So i turned to Croquet and found its key technology much more interesting especially
because i am interested in a concrete scenario, where i want to make the interaction
between our software development and our customers more efficient. And i believe, Croquet
could do something for us here in a much better way than other solutions can do. But as
a newbie in this field i am unsure whether i am really going the right way. Hence i took
some time to bring my beginner's ideas to this email hoping to get some brief answers.

So here we go: I think about a virtual issue tracking system involving direct virtual
interaction between customer and developers. I'd like to verify whether the following
use case can already be implemented with todays Croquet implementation:

The use case

We are currently using a web based issue tracking system (namely Scarab, maybe you have
heard about it ?) for communication between our development and our customers. Very often
text based issues are not expressive enough to understand the problem. Hence we need to
get to the phone and let us explain in lengthy words what the customer problems are all
about. Often we need to place ourselves in front of the Browser and try to reproduce
described effects on the customer system. We have a connection via VPN and thus can get
into the customers computer system for maintenance purpose. This scenario has prooven
efficient regarding to the main stream tools as available today (browser, webapplications,
telecomunications, vpn, ...), but i like to push this (much) further:

1.) I want to create two virtual worlds, i.e. two rooms in Croquet:

      - development lab where a customer can take a look into our ongoing work, e.g.
        play around with our development system (a webapplication). This playing may be
        acompanied by a developer, who shall comunicate how to use the frontend by
        using his developer avatar, while the customer avatar may listen e.g. via voip
        The customer may also utilise our testsystem either directly from the web, or
        through a viewport from Croquet.
        The development lab shall physically run on one of our company servers.

     -  customer lab where a customer offers a direct view to his production and
        test systems. The main functionalities are technically more or less equivalent
        to what we want to offer in the development lab above.
        The devleopment lab shall run on one of the customers computers.

2.) The development lab and the customer lab shall be connected via a portal, thus
      customers and developers can enter both rooms whenever needed and start a comunication
      with others when online.

3.) a user (developer or customer) can leave a message to another user at any place. This
      message shall be physically organised in our issue tracking system, which is also web based
      and allows to enter issue related comments, upload/download any files.

4.) through the customer lab we shall get direct access to e.g. a terminal window from where
      we can start a terminal session either directly in Croquet or on an external window which
      runs a terminal software (e.g. putty)

Some questions

The above scenario is just a rough sketch about what i have currently in mind. One of the
crucial points is about acceptance of such a system. So here are my essential questions:

0.) Does it make sense in first place ?

1.) Is it possible to create a custom croquet containing our own avatars instead of the
      original ones coming with the Croquet sdk ? Can we also remove the demo worlds and
      just keep a template for the customer-room? Such that we can let our customer
      download the Croquet viewer, start it and get right to where we want him to go
      without learning anything about croquet, just jumping in and start with the intended
      application ?

2.) Is it possible to efficiently connect Croquet viewing portals with a Webapplication
      running in the same domain as Croquet runs in ?

3.) Is it possible to connect a Croquet Viewing portal with a terminal program, i.e. putty ?

4.) Is it possible to trigger a local program from Croquet (i.e. popping up a local putty
      window, or a browser) when grabbing at something in the Croquet-world?

5.) Is it possible to alter the Croquet canvas in a way that is more "standard", i.e.
      i'd like to replace the function buttons around the Croquet window by more conventional
      buttons and possibly menu popups if necessary. This is just a concession to casual
      user expectations.
      I know from former experiance with our customers that they want to see the entry level
      as low as possible. Hence i'd like to reuse the standards for (wiondows-)gui, i.e. move
      the window closing cross from upper left to upper right, add frame around the
      Croquet-window from where i can move the window and control the window
      size as expected from todays standards. It would even be nice when i could simply start
      an individual Croquet-world in a separate window instead of within the Croquet-sdk. Is
      that possible ?

6.) Is Croquet already stable and mature enough so that we can build such an app
      around it and use it in production scenarios ?

7.) Is it possible to create a plugin which runs Croquet within a browser
      (namely iexplorer-6 and firefox) or does such a plugin already exist ?
      Just curious: Would it be feasible to create an eclipse-plugin for the
      Croquet-viewer ?

8.) How do two Croquet-worlds communicate with each other technically, i.e. do we have to open
      specific ports on our firewalls to allow interactions ? Or does Croquet use port 80 for
      underlaying communications ?

9.) Is there any published time schedule for the ongoing development in Croquet ?

10.)Are there already developers around Croquet who may be contacted for helping to realise
      such a project ?

If you have read until here, i thank you very much for taking your time and i would be
pleased to get some answers.

best regards,