Blue Spruce an Alternative to Flash, Silverlight?

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-11-24 Print this article Print

What makes Blue Spruce a breakthrough is that while Boloker and Bill were collaborating through the browser, they weren't actually sharing content. Both workers grabbed a Web page through the Blue Spruce client, but the "events" enabled by the mouse are what is being sent to the Blue Spruce Co-Web Server.

Because Boloker triggered the session, Bill's mouse events were sent to the Co-Web Server, then sent to Boloker's client, which was processing the event on his laptop. Boloker explained:

It looks like we're both on the same Web page, but in reality we're not. The value of this, if I happened to be in Sydney and he happens to be in New Hampshire, I'll pick up the caches for general data in both locations.

Next, Boloker showed a more complex scenario involving Reuters, where he and Bill pretended to be stock traders sharing information on the Morning Call application. The mock traders shared streaming video and breaking news alerts through the "shared" browser and did stock quote searches based on those events.

Blue Spruce, first reviewed by ReadWriteWeb earlier in November, is an impressive collaboration mashup, adding high-quality audio and video to shared (though not shared according to the computer logic) collaboration.

RWW's Richard McManus said IBM appears to be aiming to compete with Adobe's Flash or Microsoft's Silverlight rich application platforms. Perhaps, but from a collaborative mashup standpoint there isn't anything exactly like Blue Spruce.

Though not open source, Blue Spruce leverages open standards, including XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) for events and H.264 for video, in addition to AJAX. For the demos, Boloker used IBM multimedia plug-ins for Safari, Cocoa XMPP plug-ins for Safari, and OpenAjax Hub and widgets. Blue Spruce will eventually be ported to Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 and up in January and Mozilla Firefox shortly thereafter.

As a Web collaboration mashup, Blue Spruce would look equally at home in the company's Lotus or WebSphere product lines; Lotus because it's collaboration and WebSphere because it includes a Web server platform.

But that's probably a couple years out. For now, Blue Spruce remains a proof of concept. In the first quarter of 2009, IBM will begin more serious trials of the technology with a hospital, a utility company and the financial industry.

Boloker said the next phase of the project will be to move Blue Spruce to the mobile smartphone, which could be very promising for Nokia S60 users, RIM BlackBerry users and, possibly, Apple iPhone users.


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