Re: CU girls !

Jason Williams (
Tue, 28 Oct 1997 14:51:59 -0600 (CST)

On Tue, 28 Oct 1997, Gary Dietz wrote:
> Jason bitches about the CU 3.x interface, and recommends iVisit? Have you
> tried their "released" interface?
> How about some equal action bashing...

Equal bashing? There's a big difference. iVisit 1.0 is a 1 meg download
taking only a few minutes at 28.8kbps. CU-SeeMe 3.1 is a 9.3 meg download
taking about an hour to download.
The current version of iVisit is completely free and doesn't timeout every
15 minutes as does the WP version of CU (3.X). iVisit "expires" on
December 31st, but they've also said publicly that there will be a new
version that supercedes 1.0 by then.

Boxtop has also declared that there will always be a free version publicly
available along with a commercial version. White Pine makes no such
statements (without referring you to the Cornell version).

As far as I know, there aren't differing versions of their directory
server which work only with certain versions of iVisit. (Compared to the
White Pine 2.0 reflector which won't allow any connections from 3.X

The interface is far simpler that White Pine's 3.X version and I don't
have to waste an hour to download it and it also doesn't timeout
constantly or crash on me. Also consider the fact that the interface is
modelled with the Microsoft Foundation Class libraries. This provides a
consistent, easy to use interface, where the programmers can spend more
time adding new features than fixing interface design flaws. Ever wonder
why Cornell CU-SeeMe 0.92b2 is so SMALL compared with the White Pine
version? My guess is a lot of the reason is because of the heavy use of
MFC libraries rather than reinventing the wheel and bloating the code even

There's also a difference in the way directory servers work..White Pine
opted for a third party directory server (Four11) rather than having an
internal directory server. This prevents some of the code bloat that
White Pine experiences (having to include the Four11 client with the
client itself..contributing to the enormous size of it).

iVisit's added features which may not be used as much don't contribute
greatly to the size of the program from what I can tell. Compare this to
3.1 version of CU-SeeMe where a LOT of work is going into partly following
the H.323 specs. (It's still my understanding that CU-SeeMe won't be able
to make direct calls to a Netmeeting or Intel Videophone user without the
use of a MeetingPoint reflector.)

True, iVisit is still in its infancy and can be improved upon a lot, but
for a free program that doesn't require a $2000-$25,000 reflector to allow
multipoint conferencing, it's a good bargain. It shows the idea that
common people aren't so much interested in standards based video
conferencing as much as they are in a quality product that accomplishes
what they want to.

iVisit also has a nice message board where people can post questions and
comments on a web page. It's not directly related to the program itself,
but it does show Boxtop's idea of supporting their program. There's no
way White Pine would be able to do this from what I can tell because their
webmaster seems to be overwhelmed with work.

I imagine White Pine would get rid of a LOT of their bugs in the PC
version if they simply used MFC libraries for as much as possible. It
reduces the work required and also reduces the size of the program since
you don't have to reinvent the wheel each time.

iVisit also has some nice features that CU is lacking (both the Cornell
and WP versions). You can tell at a glance whether someone has the chat
window open or not. You can also tell what other windows other people
have open. This is nice for iVisit where a reflector isn't required, but
with CU-SeeMe isn't really needed. There's also the Banner which you can
toggle on and off. That's one feature I REALLY miss with the Cornell
0.92b2 and White Pine 3.X versions. I like the ability to type on my
video window. If I'm away, I might put "gone to eat" or "bbak in a sec"
or something. While the White Pine version does add the ability to resize
the video window, it took away the ability to type onto the local video
window. Also, in the chat window, you can tell if anyone has it open or
not. So you know whether or not anyone is seeing your chat. There's also
the bugs and inconsistencies in WP's 3.X chat window itself. You can't
cut and paste text to and from the chat window very easily (ie: right
click and select copy..or paste..or select all..etc). You can with
iVisit (and the 0.92b2 Cornell version).

Oh..and just you know...I don't work for Boxtop..I just think they have a
promising program on their hands. :) With talk of an H.323 compatible
mode for iVisit, it could eventually become one of White Pine's
best competitors. Luckily for White Pine, it still has the reflector to
fall back on currently. But given a few more months, there might be more
competition for the H.323 MCU market as well.


--    * Jason Williams -- Austin, Tx.  |     |       * University of Texas at Austin  | ___ |         * BS Computer Science             \_|_/
*************** **************|