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SmartCloud Meetings comes with the availability to share applications with participants. They can share their entire desktop or share individual applications as appropriate, with additional share options from which to choose. New to the 8.3 release of SmartCloud Meetings is Macintosh (Mac) OS X support of application sharing.
In this article, we look at how application sharing is carried out on the Mac OS, from how to share your entire screen to the previewing of shared applications and support for multiple monitors.
We also compare the functionality differences with the Windows OS version of the component, as several areas have new capabilities that Mac users will find useful and intuitive.
Application sharing on the Mac
Once the host has started a meeting, the user can now choose to start application sharing by selecting the Sharing icon from the meetings toolbar, after which the Application Sharing window displays (see figure 1).
Figure 1. Shared dialog, sharing entire desktop
Share entire screen
As the above figure shows, hosts can share their entire desktop with participants by selecting the option “Share my entire screen” on the sharing window. The “Preview of current selection” window displays a full image of the entire desktop, to give the host a snapshot view of what the participants will see.
The participants should be able to view the following when this option is chosen:
- The Dock
- Menu bar
- Background image
- Desktop icons
- Application windows
Note that, when sharing the entire screen, the “Show preview window while sharing” option is not available.
Share individual applications
The host can also choose to share individual applications by selecting the option “Share selected applications”, and can then select from a list of running applications that mirrors the applications managed by the Dock (see figure 2).
The list is also multi-select capable; just hold the Apple “cmd” key to select multiple applications. Only windows that are owned by the selected applications are in the image shared with other users.
Again, “Preview of current selection” gives the host a snapshot view of what the participant will see. Also notice that the background now displays a green color, which is a standard Mac default background.
Figure 2. Shared dialog, sharing individual apps
The participant should be able to view the following when this option is chosen:
- Menu bar, when one of the shared applications is in focus
- No background images; only the Mac green background color will now display.
- Shared application windows
When sharing individual applications, the “Show Preview Window while sharing” option is now available. The user can enable this option if they wish to have a preview window opened on their screen during the share session. Section 2.3 below provides more information on the preview window functionality.
A preview feature is now available when application sharing on Mac, providing a nice way to get an at-a-glance view of what is being shared. The host can get a preview of what will be shared, depending on their selection, and can opt to have a preview window opened while sharing individual applications.
You can think of “Preview of current selection” as a mini-preview area, useful for quickly seeing a summary of what is going to be shared. This updates automatically as the host makes selections. When the entire screen is shared, the whole shared screen will be represented in the preview area; whereas, when sharing selected applications, only windows for those applications will be displayed on a Mac default green background.
The “Show preview window while sharing” checkbox can be selected when the host decides to share individual applications. Once the share session starts, a preview window opens on the host's screen, as seen in figure 3.
This window stays on-screen and can be expanded or moved around according to the host's preference. It contains the same view as the preview area in the sharing dialog.
This preview window is not seen by the participants in the meeting.
Figure 3. Preview window displayed on host's machine
When the meeting is paused, the preview window automatically closes and automatically re-opens when the meeting resumes.
There are two ways to open the preview window, that is, by selecting:
- the check box in the sharing dialog, or
- the “Show Preview Window” option from the status menu when the share session is under way. This can also be de-selected at any time during the share session.
Mac OS X has a facility for grouping application-specific menus in the common area on the main menu bar on the right-hand side. They are usually represented by an icon button and are visible regardless of the active application.
Mac application sharing has an icon that represents the sharing state and, when activated, displays a menu to perform basic features like stop, return to meeting room, show preview window, and select applications.
This menu functionality replaces the toolbar available when running application sharing on a Windows OS. The sharing states shown via the menu icon are highlighted in table 1 below.
Table 1. Icon states
Icon state description
Application sharing is active
Application sharing is paused (sharing dialog is open)
Icon is selected to reveal menu options
When application sharing is active, the host can select this icon to reveal the menu options available, as shown in figure 4.
Figure 4. Status menu options
These options are described as follows:
This option closes the share session, which includes disconnecting application sharing from the server.
This option reopens the sharing window to allow the host to share more/less applications with participants or to change any options available.
Sharing is 'Paused' when this dialog is opened during a share session (see Figure 5). This temporarily stops the delivery of shared images. Participants are not able to view this dialog and can only view the last image sent. The session and connection to the server are not interrupted.Back to Meeting Room:
The host can 'Resume Sharing' or 'Stop Sharing' at this point. When the host resumes the delivery of images, images are updated with any changes made. The participant screen is now updated with these new images.
This option returns the host to the meeting room, bringing the browser window to the forefront of any windows already open on the desktop.
Show Preview Window:
This option can be checked to open the preview window on the host machine. A check mark is shown next to the menu item when open. To un-check, and thus close the preview window, just click the menu item again.
Figure 5. Pausing application sharing
Mac OS X provides extensive support for multiple screens. All currently available Macs have out-of-the-box support for multiple screens, ranging from two monitors on MacBooks and up to 8 for Mac Pro Desktop machines. Mac application sharing has built-in support for allowing users to select which screens they wish to share.
Only one monitor can be shared at any one time, for better performance and resource considerations.
The host can choose a monitor, using the 'Options' tab on the sharing window (see figure 6). A yellow glow wraps the selected screen, giving a clear indication of which one is in focus for sharing. If you select any other monitor, you will see the yellow halo move to it, indicating the applications on this monitor will be shared.
Figure 6. Support for multiple monitors
By holding the mouse down on a selected monitor image, the monitor itself will also display a yellow halo. This view closely matches what Mac OS X gives the user to manage the arrangement of their screens. In addition, the Screen Selection control will update live as the user adjusts the display settings.
All applications opened on each monitor are listed on the sharing window.
If you select an application on the list that is opened on a different monitor from that shared, the participants will see only a green screen with no applications displayed. The host will also see this in the Preview of Current Selection section. Be sure to select the correct monitor before sharing.
If spaces are active, they will be shared, if activated is on the shared monitor. Applications can be shared, if open, from all spaces and will be listed in the sharing window.
If an application is selected in a space other than that which is currently open, the participant will not be able to view this app. The host must switch to the correct space so they can use the application, and the participant will then be able to view it also.
Note that any windows temporarily displayed on the shared monitor will be visible to the participant if their application is shared.
Mac application sharing is limited to the size of screen that can be shared. Mac limits the maximum size to that of about a 15” MacBook Pro without scaling.
When a screen's width or height is larger than the maximum, Mac application sharing will scale to ensure the working image fits. A warning icon and a tooltip is available for any monitor that will be scaled, as shown in the screen in figure 6 above.
Mac application sharing allows the user to choose a performance mode during the share session. These can be selected in the Options tab of the sharing window (see figure 7).
Figure 7. Sharing modes
The modes are described as follows:
- Best performance: Select this mode when performance is most important, and accurate colors and smooth gradients are not as critical.
- Automatic: Select this when both performance and high image quality is desired. The system adjusts the image quality automatically based on your available bandwidth.
- Best image: Select this when accurate image and color representation are more important than performance.
Note that these are the same sharing options available when using the Windows OS version.
There is no difference for participants using a Mac OS to view application sharing from Windows OS users. The performance on the Mac is comparable to that on Windows with the same components used for viewing.
On Mac, participants are require to have a supported JavaTM
Virtual Machine (JVM) installed in order to view (see Section 2.10 for more information). Mac participants can view in full size or fit to window and can also be given control of a Windows host; however, they cannot be remotely controlled by hosts on either Mac or Windows.
Java applet for hosting
Application sharing on Mac OS X uses a Java applet to run. When sharing is started by the host, it checks for a supported JVM on the machine and, once detected, will then launch the Java applet.
The system check page has been updated to indicate that application sharing is available on Mac, if a supported JVM is detected when running this as a presenter or both presenter and participant.
The host must accept the signed applet for this to launch, as shown in figure 8.
Figure 8. Signed applet request
The host must always accept this at each restart of browser, unless they always trust the applet by selecting the check box “Allow all applets from....”
Once accepted, the applet unpacks native code needed and “talks” to it via Java. There is no need to install a plug-in, as is the case when sharing on Windows.
The system requirements for a host using application sharing on Mac are as follows:
- Apple Mac with Intel CPU
- Mac OS X 10.5/10.6
- Safari 4.x, 5.x, or Firefox 3.x
- Java 1.5+
The system requirements for a participant viewing application sharing are:
- Java Virtual Machine version 1.5 or higher
- Internet connection speed of 240 Kbps on average
Differences between the Mac and Windows versions
The subsections below outline the functional differences in the use of application sharing on a Windows OS versus a Mac OS.
Application sharing on Windows allows the host to select annotations (pointer, highlighter, and erase) during the shared session. With Mac application sharing, these options are not available.
Remote control involves the host taking control of their participants' screens. Once in control, both the host and the participant can select applications by using their mouse and keyboard. Using Windows application sharing, the host can control any other Windows participants, but they cannot control a Mac participant.
A Mac host can control participants on any Windows OS, but they cannot control a Mac participant. The message, “The participants system does not support Remote Control feature”, displays informing the host that a Mac participant cannot be remotely controlled.
A host using application sharing on Windows can give control to another participant, including a Mac participant, who can then control the host applications using their keyboard and mouse.
A host using Mac OS does not have the Give Control option in the roster menu. This feature is not supported on Mac at this time.
In the case of application sharing on a Windows OS, apps that are shared have indicator buttons on top right-hand corner. If the application is shared, a Stop Sharing button is present; if the application is not shared, a Share This button is present, indicating to the host what applications are currently shared.
When hosting on Mac OS, these indicators are not used, but the Preview window functionality, (see Section 2.3) is intended to replace the indicators as it provides a simpler way to determine what is shared.
On Windows, a conference plug-in is required to be installed by the host before sharing any applications.
On a Mac OS, a Java applet is used for application sharing rather than a conferencing plug-in; therefore, only a JVM version later than 1.5 is needed (see Section 2.9).
Multiple monitor support
Mac application sharing has built-in support for multiple monitors, as described in Section 2.5. Windows does not have this support.
A new feature added to the application sharing component for Mac is the preview feature. This allows the host to get a quick snapshot of what will be shared and how the applications are presented to the participants. The host also has the option to continue to preview the shared apps during the share session by opening a preview window on their desktop.
This feature is only on the Mac OS version of application sharing (see Section 2.3).
Pause and resume sharing
Application sharing pauses when the host decides to change the applications being shared or change any other shared options.
To pause the sharing on a Mac OS, the host selects the option “Select applications..” from the status menu. The sharing window displays on the host machine with the text “Screen sharing is currently paused”.
On the participant side, sharing is paused and they can only view the last image sent, until the host resumes the share session. The shared window is not seen by participants, whether the entire desktop or an individual app is shared. Once the host resumes sharing, by clicking the Resume Sharing button, the participants will receive the updated images.
On Windows, the participant continues to see updates when the host decides to share more or change any options; therefore, pause and resume functions do not come into play here.
With application sharing on a Windows OS, a shared toolbar appears when the share session starts and includes the options of stop sharing, share more, pointer, highlighter, erase, and back to meeting room.
This shared toolbar is not available when sharing on a Mac OS. Instead, a status icon is displayed and, when active, a menu list is available to perform basic functions like stop sharing, select apps, return to meeting room, and show the preview window. This replaces the Windows toolbar.
This article has outlined the main functionalities available with the newly supported Mac OS version of application sharing in SmartCloud Meetings. The new aspects of functionality available, along with existing functionality, have been described, and a comparison of the Windows OS version has also been discussed.
developerWorks® article, “Introducing IBM SmartCloud Meetings”:
IBM SmartCloud wiki article, “System Requirements for SmartCloud Meetings & Events”:
SmartCloud product page:
About the author
Kathleen Murray is a Software Engineer at IBM's Dublin, Ireland, Software Lab, currently a member of the SmartCloud Meetings team. She joined IBM in 2003 working on Workplace Messaging 1.1, after which she joined the Collaborative Learning team, where she was one of the lead testers for the past three releases of the product.
In 2006, Kathleen co-authored the IBM Redbooks® publication, “IBM Workplace Collaborative Learning 2.6,” among many other Collaborative Learning publications. She holds a First Class Bsc (Hons) degree in Computing Science, and a Diploma in Industrial Studies. She has also attained certification in Java Developer (SCJP).