This is my M.Sc. project in the University of Cape Town. I have only made available some excerpts from the whole thesis. In the work, I identified common problems faced by the Internet users and described these problems using two use case scenarios. Below are the two use case scenarios. These scenarios are followed by a pointer to the repository where the implementation screenshots and source code can be found. Next to the implementation screenshots and source code are specific contributions of this research work.
Content Sharing and Session Handoff in the web browsing context
This thesis proposes a new service called Content Sharing and Session Handoff. The service is introduced via the web browser interface to address common problems faced by users. The problems are regularly encountered, most notably among peers, and in some cases an individual. Two Use Case Scenarios are described below to illustrate the problems.
1. Bob is in a laboratory at school browsing a newspaper website when he comes across an interesting article that he wants to share with Alice. Alice, his colleague, is in a coffee shop also browsing a different website, via a wireless access point provided in the coffee shop. Assuming that both of them are online on Facebook and Yahoo Messenger, Bob quickly copies the URL of the article and sends to Alice via one of the Instant Messaging services. At the same time, he invites Alice to a voice chat to discuss the article. In a situation where Alice is not online, Bob sends the URL in an email to Alice and asks if they could discuss the article later.
2. Alice, researching on her project, is asked to fill in a form before she can download software she needs for the project. She has only logged in minutes ago and now asked to fill a form that requires a number that she cannot recall off hand. She realizes that she would have to restart the whole processes when she reaches home. Finally, she quits the website and tries to do something else until she gets home when she will be able to continue her project.
These problems are very similar to what individuals face today when surfing the Internet. Scenario one shows slow and inefficient ways to referring someone else to view the same web page being viewed at the same time. This problem is identified as one of the ways the web browsing experience could be improved if an efficient solution exists. The solution should cater for sending the URL to the intended recipient by a click or not more than two processes rather than copying the URL and using another software or service to accomplish the task. Better still, the solution should also cater for the voice interaction.
In scenario two, referred to as session handoff, the user, Alice, would like to continue filling the form at home without having to log-in again and navigate the website to the form page. Most times, individuals want to continue viewing the same web page later and at a different place. A large amount of HTTP signalling is involved moving from one link to the other, and a cost is incurred in the signalling, most notably where Internet access is expensive, though the cost could be small.
This thesis proposes a new service called Content Sharing and Session Handoff. The service is introduced via the web browser interface to address these common problems faced by users.
The Implementation Screenshots and Source Code
First, a new service, referred to as content sharing and session handoff between web browsers, has been provided. This implementation has provided a fast and efficient way of referring someone else to the same web page currently viewed by the referrer rather than the slow way of copying, pasting and sending the URL in a chat session or an email. Second, integrating a SIP stack into a web browser offers the advantage of extending a web browser to act as a SIP client. In this case, web browsers can now act as SIP clients thereby setting up multimedia session between two or more users. Most notably, web browsers now have unique SIP addresses to interact with one another like PCs, which have unique Media Access Control (MAC) or IP addresses.
In summary, while session handoff has been widely explored, content sharing is a new service in the web-browsing context that could encourage collaboration or community interaction between the Internet users. In addition, having shown that the integration of a SIP stack into a web browser makes no significant change on the memory footprint or quality of experience, the inclusion of SIP in commercial web browsers is not only feasible, but also will offer new services to end users. SIP is an extensible protocol that is not only used in multimedia services provisioning, but also in control and automation, such as smart homes. Should Free Open Source Software (FOSS) and Open Standards be widely adopted, more new and innovative solutions, like this project, would be introduced into the web browsing experience and found in this Web 2.0 era as services are rapidly converging.
I am happy to provide more information should anyone be interested in this project.