SHARE - Requesting access to a research environment

Users should indicate:

  • which environment they wish to use,
  • when they wish to use it,
  • how long they wish to use it.

By default, sessions are configured for immediate use, during 4 hours.

user interface for configuring a new session

Default configuration: discard all changes

Unless a private, mutable environment is used, the state of the environment will be discarded after its use. When a user requests a new session for the same environment afterwards, it will be reset to the configuration that was shared originally by the demonstrator.

This default policy may be desirable when:

  • a demonstrator wants to expose the environment for evaluation use only. By limiting the time an environment can be used and by discarding side-effects, one will be unable to create large, production-oriented, projects.
  • an environment relies on third-party software, with a commercial license. In SHARE, the time an environment may be used can be limited by the demonstrator. Moreover, users can only get access to particular environments after moderator approval. By limiting the usage time, the sharing of an environment can be compared with giving someone temporary access to a personal computer (this comparison only makes sense when not taking SHARE's security advantages into account). This may give demonstrators the legal flexibility needed to demonstrate for example a tool-chain that (below the surface) relies on a third-party image conversion or layout component with a restricted license.
  • one wants to demonstrate a complex solution to a case study but still wants to enable the user to change that solution (e.g., for debugging/comprehension purposes). By flushing side-effects, all accidental changes will no longer be visible in subsequent sessions.

From a technical perspective, the default policy supports the scalability of SHARE, since the required of server disk space is reduced dramatically compared to a situation where each user has permanent private disk space assigned.

Special policy: preserve changes

In the case where there is a certain trust between the SHARE user and the demonstrator, and the bundle administrator, a mutable environment may be created for use by that user only. This enables that user to store his environment data across sessions.

This special policy is desirable when:

  • the user intends to become a demonstrator, and share a particular extension on an existing environment,
  • SHARE is used for providing "software as a service (SaaS)", to internal or external customers,
  • SHARE is used in a teaching context, where a teacher shares an environment containing the tool to be used by the students.

In the latter two cases, the demonstrator may advertise a link for requesting the private environment to his target audience.

Public Banners

Demonstrators can create direct hyperlinks to a particular environment without compromising authorization rules. Existing or new SHARE users can follow these hyperlinks and may be asked to authenticate first. SHARE will preserve the intention of the environment link across the registration/login process to ease the first access to the environment.

configurenewsession.gif - user interface for configuring a new session (45.8 KB) Pieter Van Gorp, 01 Apr 2009 15:03