A collaborative site offers collaborative services to a group of users that share a common interest. Services include document sharing, work planning, contact management, collaborative workspaces, discussions, wikis, personal profiling, etc. Most collaborative sites are restricted to a closed user population and thus belong to a different family than the 'normal' information and communication sites on EUROPA.
A collaborative site is a specific case of a service site that focuses on establishing a virtual environment to enhance collaboration between the members of a working group. Most collaborative sites are thus not really part of the normal EUROPA family, but in many cases the results produced by the collaboration are published on a 'normal' EUROPA site. It is important to separate the closed collaborative part from the open dissemination site. Whenever possible the two environments must be well separated and accessed via different addresses. Only when the collaborative section of the site is small and open to everybody can the site be presented under one access point.
A collaborative site can offer a large range of services:
A common repository of documents that constitute the knowledge base of the working group. A sophisticated document access management is part of the service.
Tools for work planning, task management, contact management, integrated mail and conferencing tools.
Integrated threaded discussions, blogs, and wikis with related content and federated search.
Facebook-like user profiles, friends, message boards.
Internal Market Information System IMI
Closed collaborative sites cannot be integrated in normal Europa sites. They must be integrated in the 'webgate' family of web applications and use the secure 'http' protocol. Their URL will thus have the following format:
Given the wide diversity of collaborative services, it is not possible to recommend one particular technical tool to implement a particular collaborative site. Several approaches are possible:
- CIRCABC is a generic tool for collaborative sites that was created in the context of the IDABC program.
- Sharepoint, the internal collaborative tool is also a potential candidate for creating collaborative sites.
- The Flexible Platform offers a set of interactive tools (blogs, forums, wikis ...) that can be used to create the services of a collaborative site.
- In some cases, it may be necessary to create a specific environment using one of the generic application technologies.
Collaborative sites are usually closed sites and are thus not really part of the normal EUROPA family. When such a site is referenced from a 'normal' EUROPA page, the corresponding link should be accompanied by a warning message explaining to the visitor that he will be directed to a closed site requiring a login/password in order to be accessed. The visitor should also be informed about the nature of the site and its target audience. The same information must be provided on the home page (login page) of the collaborative site together with and explanation of the procedure for obtaining a user account.