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New collaboration features

Some user-facing changes...

Some of you may have noticed that a new button recently appeared in the TouchDevelop interface.
Clicking on this allows you to work in collaboration with other people. This relies on one of the features that have been available for a while in the "social" section on the hub, called groups. In essence, you can share a script with members of your group, and all of you will edit the same script.
To support an exciting collaboration experience, we offer a variety of tools. One of the things you can do is chat with other people. Scripts that are edited in collaboration with others now have a "chat area" at the top of the screen that you can expand/collapse via a tap. Your messages will be sent to other people editing the same script. Messages only stay for about 10 minutes, and are then discarded.
Working together means that two of you can now edit the same action. In case you're afraid someone will touch your code, you can disable "code sync", meaning that any changes you perform will remain on your computer only, and will not be sent to others in the group. That's no fun, though, and as long as code sync is enabled, TouchDevelop will record and dispatch your modification to other members of your group.
Rest assured: as long are you and your classmates are not "fighting" over the same line, TouchDevelop is smart enough to merge your changes, and make sure that changes are integrated "in parallel".
In the case that two people should edit the same statement, though, chances are high that one will "win" while the other will "lose". To avoid that sort of situations, we display small bubbleheads at the right end of a statement. That way, you can see where other members of your group are currently located, and potentially avoid touching the same area of the code as them.
If someone's editing another action, their bubblehead will appear next to that action, as in the image above.
The small "bubble heads" are tappable, and will give you information: when and where that person was last seen active.
We hope that this feature allows you to be more productive in your group sessions. If you have any comments or suggestions, please do file issues on our brand-new GitHub page.

... backed by a small bit of theory

This collaboration feature relies on earlier research work on distributed communication protocols, carried out by S. Burckhardt et al. Sebastian will you about all of this next week in an another blog post!