GroupKit is a Tcl/Tk library that makes it easy to prototype and build real-time collaborative applications (groupware), such as multi-user drawing tools, text editors, meeting tools, and much more.

Last Release

While no longer under active development, the 5.2 release (March 2003) was built against Tcl/Tk 8.4.2, so it should be easy to get working, perhaps with minor tweaks, with current versions of Tcl/Tk. The code is hosted at SourceForge, providing you access to downloads, CVS and more. You can also find a copy of the 3.3 release, which contained many demos that were not part of the later releases.

Contact Mark if you have any questions.

GroupKit History

GroupKit was initially created in 1992 by Mark Roseman, as part of graduate work being done in Saul Greenberg's GroupLab project at the University of Calgary. While it started life as a C++/InterViews toolkit, with the arrival of Tcl-DP (and a few weeks between submitting and defending Mark's thesis), the system quickly migrated to Tcl/Tk.

GroupKit was designed to make it easy to quickly prototype groupware applications, so that various researchers could experiment with different collaborative architectures and interaction techniques, notably in workspace awareness and session management. The quick learning curve and rapid development characteristics of GroupKit led to it becoming quite popular in the CSCW community, both among researchers and educators.

GroupKit evolved fairly rapidly from 1993-1998, thanks to a host of contributors both at Calgary and around the world, including several substantial contributions and two ground-up rewrites. The last 5.1 Calgary release was somewhat of a consolidation, rationalizing some architectural experiments done in 4.x, and trimming down many of the contributed demos that had been carried along in the 3.x releases.

GroupKit development trailed off in 1998; for most of the users, it proved a sufficiently robust and flexible platform to meet their needs. Mark had by that time moved on to TeamWave, bringing with him many of the GroupKit concepts (if not the actual implementation).

Writing this now in 2008, suffice it to say that technology has changed somewhat, and GroupKit's value is primarily historical. Looking back, it did have a significant effect on CSCW thinking, research and practice in its day.

You can still find a variety of papers and other publications covering GroupKit and related systems at UCalgary's GroupLab Publications page.

In early 2003, Mark moved the latest code to SourceForge, and updated it to run with the current versions of Tcl/Tk at the time.

A big attraction to Calgary is the nearby Rockies, which most of us enjoyed as often as we could, and so mountain scenes were not-so-subtly present in our work. The background of the GroupKit about box is from a photo of Medicine Lake in Jasper National Park that Mark took. The background from this photo, taken by Doug Schaeffer, was from the first time Saul took Mark "cross-country" skiing, which apparently means spending as much time going up as going down. Unlike some people Saul has hosted, no broken bones resulted from the many wipeouts, and Mark did actually take up x-c skiing after that.