Earlier this year Teleplace announced they were releasing OpenQwaq, an Open Source version of their enterprise platform under the GNU General Public License, opening up new opportunities for educators to test the software and explore what it offers. Teleplace Inc. develops a collaboration platform to help enterprise companies manage intensive projects across multiple locations. OpenQwaq has the exact same features with the exception of support, automatic upgrades and Teleplace Connect, which allows the virtual environment to run in a Windows Internet Explorer browser.
OpenQwaq has a user friendly suite of collaboration tools that work really smoothly together and are simple to manage. Users can drag-and-drop content from a desktop or local folder straight into a virtual workspace. You can share information contained in corporate applications or desktop applications such as Adobe® PDF documents, Microsoft® Word, Powerpoint, Excel files, images and even 3-D models. Documents are viewed on flat 2D Panes where multiple users can view and edit documents together at the same time. The software integrates with the SharePoint Learning Management System, so you can pull content from the LMS onto a 2D pane for others to view. Voice over IP and text chat is also available, so it’s a perfect solution for virtual meetings or small project collaborations.
The only downfall of the platform are the 3D graphical limitations, compared to other platforms the standard is quite low. Avatars can be simple using your own head shot photo on a matchstick man or a more realistic avatar from the OpenQwaq selection. There is a basic set of template rooms to choose from, which is fine to get started with, but creatively you’ll be restricted when designing your space.
Here’s a little background information about the company: Teleplace was originally known as “Qwaq” and evolved from a project known as OpenCroquet that was initially released in 2007 for the purpose of developing a collaborative virtual worlds application. The initial founders of OpenCroquet split into two groups, one to continue in Open Source development under the M.I.T license creating “OpenCobalt”, the other to fork the code and develop a commercial business creating “Qwaq”. There was a substantial investment put into Qwaq that allowed the company to develop a stable and secure market ready product, while OpenCobalt was funded by the National Science Foundation and other grants.
OpenCobalt has struggled to compete with Teleplace’s features and functionality, so the decision to release OpenQwaq came as good news to the community. As both projects develop under different licenses there is a legal conflict with the GNU GPL and M.I.T license agreements, which may restrict code from OpenQwaq being used in OpenCobalt.