Shared Space 2.0

This page is about the Shared Space software I wrote for Mac some years ago. Though it looks pretty primitive now (and is probably chock-full of bugs, as you might expect from a programmer whose ideas were somewhat more impressive than his abilities), Shared Space has a special place in my heart as the first piece of commercial software I ever released.

I haven’t done anything with it for some time, but I still very occasionally get emails about it, so I figured I might as well create a simple page about it for anyone interested.

Screenshot of Shared Space 2.0

What was Shared Space?

From the description on the old website:

What is Shared Space 2.0?

A tool for visual thinking, group working and content management. It allows users to create visual maps of information using web-like structures. Documents from any application can be imported into a space, and the software’s built in version control allows users to keep track of earlier versions of documents easily.

Relationships between elements can be described using links. Unlike hypertext links, such as those found on web pages, links are presented in a visual fashion, allowing users to see both linked elements concurrently, and traverse the space in both directions.

Spaces and views can be shared over the Internet or a local network. SS2 also makes use of Rendezvous, allowing you to see other users on your local network.

Screenshot of Shared Space 2.0


Shared Space started life as a simple project written as part of my final project at the University of Plymouth in 98/99. Users went to the website and could create sticky notes they could visually link together, providing descriptions for the links to create a simple mind map. The whole thing was inspired by the famous Vannevar Bush article, As We May Think, published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1945.

From the very first version, Shared Space was designed as a networked system, where users could share and collaborate in real-time on different ‘Spaces’ (collections of linked notes).

I think sometime in 2000 I began work on a much more sophisticated version, notionally as part of a research MA that never really got off the ground. The initial first version had been a client/server system, with the server using flat file databases and what Perl I could just about string together. This new version was to be a peer to peer system, with each copy of the software able to communicate with other copies on the same local network (with auto-discovery via Bonjour/ZeroConf) or the internet. You could also work on your spaces offline, and sync with other people later on.

I worked on this version on and off in my spare time until early 2004. Though earlier versions were available for Windows, the last few versions were Mac only. Written in RealBasic, Shared Space won two RealBasic Design awards.

In early 2008 I worked for a couple of months on a new version (see the video below) as part of the Trails Network project. This version allowed you to include many different types of data in your spaces, including images and web urls with automatically-generated previews, tasks, events and more. You could also design your own data-types by creating an XML file that described the elements each item would have (text input, menu, file selector etc). This version was never released, and we eventually put the whole thing on indefinite hold due to overwhelming lack of public interest.

Download it

For posterity, I’m making the last released version of Space Space 2.0 (circa 2003) available for download:

The original system requirements:

Minimum requirements:

Recommended requirements:

Shared Space 2.0 was written long before Apple moved to Intel processors, but you should still be able to run Shared Space 2.0 on any modern Mac as long as you have Rosetta installed.

You will be prompted for a serial number, but just skip that step, there are no restrictions on the software other than the nag screen at launch.

It probably goes without saying, but I regret I cannot provide any support for this software, and make no guarantees it won’t destroy your computer.

The future?

I haven’t worked on Shared Space for some time, and have no current plans to take it any further.

A fun side note

If you are an Objective-C developer, there’s a chance you might be familiar with my ASIHTTPRequest project, a fairly popular library for making HTTP requests to webservers in Mac and iPhone applications. ASIHTTPRequest was originally written for Memex Trails + Shared Space 3.0, so a little part of Shared Space lives on in many modern Mac and iOS applications.