The "int.unity" project is using the BSCW Shared Workspace System developed by GMD and OrbiTeam Software Ltd. as a communication and cooperation platform. BSCW (Basic Support for Cooperative Work) is based on the notion of a shared workspace , a joint storage facility that may contain various kinds of objects such as documents, tables, graphics, spreadsheets or links to Web pages. A BSCW workspace can be set up and objects stored, managed, edited or downloaded with any Web browser, i.e., the users of the system do not have to install any additional software locally. This is one of the features which makes BSCW particularly well suited for the "int.unity" community whose members are usually not computer professionals, since this avoids distribution and maintenance of end-user software. It also provides platform independence since Web browsers are available for all commonly used system platform such as Windows, MacIntosh OS, or Unix.

Furthermore, the following BSCW features are of particular importance for the "int.unity" project:

authentication, i.e., only persons authorised by name and password have access to BSCW workspaces;

version management of objects within a workspace which is required for joint document production;

discussion forums, i.e., users may start a discussion on any topic they like and the system presents the threads in a user friendly manner;

different access rights, e.g., some users may have complete control over an object in a workspace whereas others have only read access or no access at all;

search facilities to find objects within BSCW workspaces (or on the Web) based on content or properties such as author or modification date;

comprehensive notifications services which inform the users about events in their workspaces so that they are kept well informed about activities of other members of their groups;

multi-language support: the user interface of the BSCW system is available in German and English, but also in other European languages such as French, Italian, or Spanish, which allow a future European wide deployment of the "int.unity" project (the multi-language support only refers to the interface of the BSCW system, not yet to content stored within the system).

From a technical point of view, the BSCW system is an extensions of a Web server through the Common Gateway Interface (CGI). It works with the most commonly used Web servers such as the Apache and the Web servers from Microsoft or Netscape, and it can be installed on Windows NT, Windows 2000 and many Unix versions, including Linux. Although the BSCW system does already satisfy too a large extent the envisaged collaboration requirements, it needs to be extended and modified. In particular, the interface of the system has to be customised to the specific needs of the target group of European trade unions and works' councils, and the translation facilities as described below need to be added.

Though BSCW has already proven its suitability for cooperation between remote teams, it has not yet been tested in the trade union area. This test will take place for the first time in the "int.unity" project, whereby the most important test is whether the system's functions and user-friendliness can meet the needs of trade union players and where possible potential for optimisation exists. Simultaneously - and this is the specifically innovative characteristic of "int.unity" - the project intends to eliminate a bottleneck that has significantly restricted the usability not only of the BSCW platform, but of all known groupware solutions for multilingual communication and cooperation: none of these types of applications possess Integrated language technology modules, hence leaving the problem of cross-language understanding in virtual work contexts unsolved. This problem will be approached in "int.unity" through the implementation, testing and optimis ation of existing language technology with in the communication and cooperation platform.