A Unified XML Framework For 
Multi-Device Collaborative Web Browsing

WebSplitter symbolizes the union of pervasive multi-device computing and collaborative multi-user computing.  WebSplitter provides a unified XML framework that enables both multi-device and multi-user Web browsing, as shown below.

WebSplitter splits a requested XML Web page and delivers the appropriate partial view of each page to each user, or more accurately to each user’s set of devices.  Multiple users can participate in the same browsing session, as in traditional conferencing groupware.  Depending on the access privileges of the user to the different components of content on each page, WebSplitter generates a personalized partial view.  WebSplitter further splits the partial view among the devices available to each user,  e.g. laptop, wireless PDA, projection display, stereo speakers.

An author could compose a presentation whose different components are delivered to different users and end devices depending on a set of tag mapping rules specified by the page author.  The author may define different groups of users with different access privileges, e.g. to provide different levels of learning, to hide information from certain groups, or to provide different levels of parental control.  Any browsing device could access such an authored page. 

For example, a lecturer could use a wireless PDA to browse such a "WebSplit" page, and spread the resulting presentation around nearby or even remote devices.  In effect, the wireless PDA would act a remote control for the multimedia capabilities of nearby devices.  The lecturer would use the PDA to orchestrate a composite presentation across a set of devices available in the lecture hall.  Moreover, other remote distance learners could follow the lecturer's browsing session.

We envision many more applications that could benefit from this WebSplitting capability.

The architecture consists of

  • an XML metadata policy file defining access privileges to XML tags on a Web page 
  • a middleware proxy that splits XML Web content to create partial views 
  • a client-side component, e.g. applet, enabling user login and reception of pushed browsing data 
Service discovery finds and registers proxies, browsing sessions, and device capabilities.

We have demonstrated the feasibility of splitting the different tags in an XML Web page to different end users’ browsers, and of pushing updates from the browsing session to heterogeneous devices, including a laptop and a PDA.

WebSplitter was published in ACM CSCW 2000.  The precise reference is 

  • R. Han, V. Perret, M. Nagshineh, "WebSplitter: A Unified XML Framework for Multi-Device Collaborative Web Browsing,"  ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) 2000, pp. -.  [pdf (296 KB)]


Last updated: October 11, 2000