Synchronizing clipboards of multiple computers
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Synchronizing Clipboards of Multiple Computers Rob Miller Brad Myers School of Computer Science Carnegie Mellon University UIST ‘99 November 7-10, 1999 How do I move data between programs running on different computers? URLs Email addresses Phone numbers Text Files

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Synchronizing clipboards of multiple computers l.jpg

Synchronizing Clipboards of Multiple Computers

Rob Miller Brad MyersSchool of Computer ScienceCarnegie Mellon University

UIST ‘99 November 7-10, 1999

One user many computers l.jpg

How do I move data between programs running on different computers?

  • URLs

  • Email addresses

  • Phone numbers

  • Text

  • Files

One User, Many Computers

  • Desktops

  • Laptops

  • PDAs

  • Cell phones

  • Pagers

  • Car PCs

  • Live Boards

  • ...

  • Windows

  • Unix/X

  • Macintosh

  • Palm

  • Windows CE

  • ...

Inter application data transfer l.jpg

Same Computer computers?




Different Computers

Network filesystem

Pick-and-drop [Rekimoto, UIST 97]

Hyperdragging [Rekimoto, CHI 99]

Synchronized clipboards

Inter-Application Data Transfer

Synchronized clipboards l.jpg
Synchronized Clipboards computers?

  • Key idea: synchronize the clipboards so that their contents are always identical.

  • User’s clipboard group consists of all computers in active personal use (ideally).

Advantages l.jpg
Advantages computers?

  • Cut/copy/paste is a familiar, universal UI

    • All popular GUIs have a clipboard

    • No extra hardware is required

  • Synchronization is invisible

    • User doesn’t need to explicitly name source or target computer in each data transfer (unlike other “network clipboards”)

Limitations l.jpg
Limitations computers?

  • Best for one user only

    • Two users can’t actively share a synchronized clipboard

  • Computers must be in close proximity

    • Unsuitable for long-range transfers

Model 1 client server l.jpg
Model #1: Client-Server computers?






  • Network traffic on all client clipboard operations

  • Client clipboards must be interceptable

Model 2 peer to peer l.jpg
Model #2: Peer-to-Peer computers?









  • No network traffic for local clipboard operations

  • Clipboards must allow delayed data transfer

Prototype uses both models l.jpg
Prototype Uses Both Models computers?

  • PalmPilot: client-server

    • Palm clients connected to server PC by serial cable or cradle

  • Windows, Unix/X: peer-to-peer

    • Java/RMI across the network

  • Both models interoperate

    • Just hook up server as a peer

Setting up clipboard group l.jpg
Setting Up Clipboard Group computers?

  • PalmPilot: plug/unplug Palm in cradle

    • Clipboard group connection is automatic

  • Windows, Unix: add/remove hostnames

    • Automatic discovery (e.g. Jini) would help

  • My clipboard group should contain all devices I’m actively using

    • But perfect tracking is tricky

Security l.jpg
Security computers?

  • Authentication by popup dialog

  • SSL, Kerberos, PGP, … would help

    • But all require some infrastructure: trusted authorities, key management, etc.

Conclusion l.jpg
Conclusion computers?

  • Synchronized clipboards extend the familiar clipboard model for seamless data transfer between computers

  • Prototype (for Palm, Windows, Unix) is available at: