Collaborative systems are distributed multiple-user systems that are both concurrent and synchronized. An interesting research challenge is to develop a collaborative modeling system that offers all facilities of advanced modeling systems to its users, while at the same time providing them with the necessary coordination mechanisms that guarantee effective collaboration. To achieve this, a web-based collaborative feature modeling sys- tem, webSpiff, has been developed. It has a client-server architecture, with an advanced feature modeling system as a basis for the server, providing feature validation, multiple views and sophisticated visualization facilities. A careful distribution of the functionality between the server and the clients has resulted in a well-balanced system. On the one hand, the server offers all the functionality of the original feature modeling system. On the other hand, all desirable interactive modeling functionality is offered by the clients, rang- ing from display of feature model images to interactive model specification facilities. The architecture of webSpiff, the distribution of model data, the functionality of the server and the clients, and the communication mechanisms are described. It is shown that a good compromise between interactivity and network load has been achieved, and that indeed advanced feature modeling with a collaborative system is feasible.
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