MUD: A Web-Based Multi-User Drawing Surface

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Engineers are often required to coordinate with colleagues located in other cities and countries. While phone calls and video conferences help facilitate communication between remote locations, there are certain forms of communication which are currently only possible in a face-to-face setting

One such example is the usage of whiteboards for brainstorming ideas. Whiteboards are commonly used by engineers to quickly promote development and refinement of complex ideas in a collaborative fashion.

We have developed, for Microsoft, a web-based application which replicates this brainstorming process. The application that we have developed allows users to communicate ideas visually, regardless of physical location.

A user has the ability to quickly and easily create shapes, draw using the pen tool, or add text - all of which is instantly visible to all other participants. Anything on the canvas can be resized, moved, deleted, and have its color changed by any participant.

This real-time interaction over the web gives users a way to brainstorm like they do on a whiteboard, but with the added conveniences of modern technology. It is easier to reorganize or change a drawing, and allows users to collaborate instantly.

The Multi-User Drawing (MUD) Surface software was written in the C# programming language and uses Microsoft's new Silverlight technology. The application can be run on both Windows and Macintosh operating systems.

Charles Otto, Kirsten Partyka, Sean Murphy, Rob Meyer

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