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VNC viewer software run by SAIT staff members. This software is designed to listen on the designated network port for attempted connections from an individual requesting remote support using Chase's tool.The application run by the person needing remote support. The names and associations with RTAs, text, images, and links displayed in this application are all editable in real time through the DCOHome web application. This allows our support techs to add and remove themselves from the list in real time without needing to redistribute modified versions of the client-facing software. Once the user selects an RTA to connect to this system will automatically launch a temporary VNC server and initiate a connection to the listening VNC viewer software associated with that RTA.A sample of a connected session from the point of view of a support technician. The other person's entire screen is visible within a window on the RTAs screen and they can use their own mouse and keyboard to interact with the client's computer.
The interface within DCOHome that is used to generate the GUI content shown to the user when running the remote support application to get assistance.

Related Projects

The following projects are related:

Chase's Tool (Remote Support)

This project was done while I was a Resident Technology Assistant with Student Affairs IT at the University of Montana, Missoula. Student Affairs IT (SAIT) is responsible for providing technical support to all employees within the University of Montana's Division of Student Affairs as well as all university students - most notably, those students making use of the University's DirectConnect in-room network service.

It is often difficult to assist users with resolving their problems while not in the same physical location. Unfortunately, in order to provide quick and efficient support to such a large audience it was often necessary to attempt to resolve the user's problem over the phone. Being able to see what the user is seeing and actually demonstrating for them how to resolve the issue are very beneficial to the support process. For that reason, as an RTA providing such support, I took it upon myself to setup a method to allow the users I was assisting to share their screen with me over the local network or Internet. Soon enough those users I had previously helped would call back with another problem and ask the person answering their call to provide remote support in the same way because of how convenient it was. Unfortunately, the nature of our staff and the frequency at which our employees would work on different computers throughout our office made it very difficult and chaotic for each staff member to maintain and provide their own independent remote support service.

As a result of this problem I decided to integrate a solution directly into our internal web portal, DCOHome, which I was also responsible for. As I never officially named the solution it came to be known simply as "Chase's Tool." My solution consists of three interconnected parts.

The numbered steps shown in this diagram will be referenced in the description below using [?] to indicate a reference to step number ?.

Employee-Facing VNC Viewer Software

This is a small open-source VNC viewer that I was able to script and bundle in such a way that all the employee needed to do was launch the executable and click start [1]. This would set the VNC viewer software in a listening state where it would establish a connection to the first VNC server that communicated with it over the network.

DCOHome Integration

A centralized list of users available to provide remote support is stored in the DCOHome web application. DCOHome also stored all of the text strings and images used in the GUI of the client-facing application. This information could be updated at any time by those with sufficient permission and the client-facing application would automatically reflect these changes the next time it was launched by a user. In most circumstances the employee only needed to visit the remote support page within DCOHome and add their current computer to the list [2] (a simple process of clicking a single button as the DCOHome server already knows their IP address and name based on the logged in user account).

Client-Facing VNC Server Software

The client-facing application was a couple layer deep. To start, the user would run the executable file to being the process [3]. Then, in the background, the application would send a request to DCOHome [4] requesting a list of the RTAs available to provide support at this point in time as well as the text and media that was needed to display the list of available employees to the user. DCOHome would return this information to the application [5] and a list of available employees would be displayed on the user's computer [6]. The employee assisting the user would then provide their name and the user would select that name from the list [7]. The software would then initiate a VNC server on the user's computer [8] and use the information associated with that employee received from DCOHome to notify the employee's listening VNC viewer software that it was available to accept connections [9]. The employee's VNC viewer software would then automatically connect to the user's VNC server [10] and display the user's screen in a window on the employee's desktop [11]. At this point the employee has full control of the user's computer and can now work through the problem as if they were in the same physical location sharing access to the keyboard, mouse, and monitor.