Friday, September 18, 2009

Add file transfer capabilities to the CollaborationDialog

The CollaborationDialog widget in the WAS CEA feature pack provides capability that is leveraged during cobrowsing sessions. Part of the function in the widget consists of sending data between the participants in a cobrowse session. This enables function like highlighting, following, and sending a page. It's this, the capability to send data back and forth between participants, that can be leveraged to produce very useful extensions to the base CollaborationDialog widget.

Take for example the previous scenario I blogged about. In that case, a few extensions to some of the CEA widgets provided an enhanced, online communications experience between a customer and an insurance company customer service representative. What if during the course of that communication the policy was updated and the customer service representative wanted to send the new policy to the customer? Well, it could be sent via email and the customer could check it at some later time. However, a simple extension to the CollaborationDialog widget to provide file transfer capabilities will allow the customer service representative to send and the customer to receive the updated policy right away.

To do this we can leverage the CollaborationDialog widget's existing ability to send data back and forth between cobrowse participants. Your first thought may be that we actually use the data sending capability to directly send file contents back and forth, but that's not what the data sending infrastructure was designed for. Rather, it was designed to send small, chatty messages. With that in mind, we use simple AJAX functionality to post a form containing a file attachment to a backend file server. Then, we leverage the data sending infrastructure to notify the other cobrowse participant that they are being sent a file, and we provide the location of that file so it can be downloaded.

We also make some changes to the HTML and CSS files for the CollaborationDialog, and combined with the necessary JavaScript additions mentioned above, we can now choose and send files as seen below:

We can also receive files from our cobrowsing partner:

The capability to send and receive files while in a cobrowse session can significantly enhance the experience of both participants. If you are interested in how you can add this extension into your WAS CEA environment, drop a comment right here and we'll be happy to set you up with some examples.


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