The last W3 news was in November
of last year. Since then so much
has happened that as usual we haven't
had time to write a newsletter. But
here for those who aren't on the
mailing list is a summary of what's
been happening. In this issue:
The National Center for Supercomputer
Applications , (authors of the famous
NCSA Telnet for the Macintosh) have
a team of developers working on WWW
software. Their first product, Mosaic
for X , took the workstation world
by storm as being the most polished
and sophisticated W3 browser available
for X workstations.
One of the delights of this product
is that one only has to FTP the binary
over, set it executable, and run
it. There is no setting up to do.
This has put thousands of people
on the web. The binaries, and sources
if you need them, are available by
anonymous FTP from ftp.ncsa.UIUC.edu.
Look in directory /Web/xmosaic.
Features of Mosaic, which after 15
or so beta releases is now at 1.0,
include embedded graphics and launching
of multimedia applications. Mosaic
keeps track of all the documents
you have ever read, and colours the
link differently if it leads to something
you have read before. This is useful
not only for avoiding old things
when looking for new, but also for
following your tracks through unknown
territory. The bookmark list, known
as a "hotlist", is saved between
sessions as a private list of interesting
places. You can even add personal
annotations onto any document, which
will will appear each time you (but
only you) read it. The look and feel
is Motif (though you don't need Motif
to run it, as the binaries come with
the libraries linked in). Marc
Andreesen, the author, has done a
really good job here.
News is just in of a new release
of tkWWW we have only just tried
out today. TkWWW is a WWW client
for X windows which uses no Motif,
but the public domain tk/tcl tool
The exciting thing about this release
is that it is Joe Wang's first pass
at a wysiwyg hypertext editor. This
allows the direct editing of hypertext
documents, including link creation.
It is in the early stages, but developers
are encouraged to try it and make
TkWWW is available by anonymous FTP
from info.cern.ch, in /pub/www/src
as well as various other sites.
CERN has now released a W3 browser
for the Mac . This uses multiple
windows, and linked text is coloured
blue or underlined on black and white
displays. The application is available
on Appletalk zone LDI_2, machine
"Robert Cailliau", either by public
folder or by Appleshare (guest user).
Outside CERN users use anonymous
FTP from info.cern.ch, in directory
/pub/www/bin/mac. You MUST use MacTCP
version 1.1.1 or later with it, as
there was a bug in the version many
people have (available inside CERN
from the same source).
NCSA also have a prototype of Mosaic
running on the Mac, and this should
be available later in the summer.
The most frequently asked question
about WWW is now, "What about my
Windows machine?". I can tell you
than I have on my notebook an advance
copy of the "Cello" browser by Tom
Bruce of Cornell's legal Information
Institute, and very nice it looks
too. The catch? Tom doesn't want
to let it out until he has polished
it. He plans a July release, with
beta test versions available in June.
Meanwhile, several other people are
working on alternatives, which are
hot on Cello's heels, including a
Windows version of Mosaic from NCSA.
After much discussion, CERN has now
released a certain subset of the
W3 software as public domain code.
This was done in order to further
the spread of the web, and to ensure
that the protocols were used in a
consistent way. There had been a
danger of developers having to all
re-invent the protocol code, and
remake incompatible mistakes. Now
the "libwww" code library which forms
the basis of many of the browsers
is in the public domain, this can
serve as a common basis. It deals
with the HTTP protocol handling,
and also Gopher, WAIS, FTP , local
file, and News access, as well as
parsing of the hypertext format (HTML),
and negotiation of other available
Also released into the public domain
is the basic server, httpd, and the
line mode client.
The news release of the CERN server
is now easier to set up. You just
run it under the inet daemon (or
stand-alone if you like). Giving
it the name of a directory on the
command line will simply export the
The server automatically generates
hypertext representations of you
directory structure. Directories
are listed with the subdirectories
first, and then the files. The text
of README files, if any, is included
in the directory listing at the top,
bottom or not at all depending command
line options. The server is available
in source and binary form by anonymous
FTP from info.cern.ch in /pub/www/src/WWW_Daemon_2.05.tar.Z
and /pub/www/bin/*/httpd_2.05. Take
a later version if it exists. The
rule file is still available for
more complex server situations.
Servers are also available for VMS
and VM/XA, the latter being written
largely in REXX for flexibility.
Use that gopher dataIf you already have a "Gopher" server
on a unix machine, you will have
created various special files to
define your gopher tree. A new server
from NCSA , also in the public domain,
allows you to export all this information
using the world wide web's "HTTP"
protocol. Like the CERN server,
this synthesises hypertext, but in
this case uses the gopher-style .cap
files, etc., as input. This will
give your readers a better view of
your information than when they go
through the gopher protocol. You
will be able to maintain one database
for access though both servers in
parallel. Of course, you might
be tempted to write a bit of hypertext
here and there too!
The NCSA server is available by anonymous
FTP from ftp.ncsa.uiuc.edu.
A number of other servers are also
available, allowing all kinds of
neat features including access control
by IP address, gateways to all kinds
of things (including gnu "info" trees).
Check the web for details .
The WAIS project uses a special protocol,
a variant of the Z39.50 library access
protocol, to talk to full text search
engines. Until now, W3 browsers
had to go through a gateway to reach
WAIS servers. The gateways still
exist, but it possible to compile
a client to have the ability to talk
WAIS protocol directly to these servers,
which currently exist on about 113
hosts worldwide, some of which have
This feature allows the regular httpd
server to act as a WAIS gateway just
by setting the rule file appropriately.
Those wishing to compile clients
in this way will also require the
"freeWAIS" distribution from CNIDR.org,
which although not public domain
is freely available.
The full HTTP protocol used by most
new W3 clients (not yet in Mosaic)
allows the client to tell the server
what data formats it can handle.
This allows the server to chose a
format if it has alternatives, or
if it has conversion programs.
If you have the W3 server (httpd)
version 2.05 or later, you can simply
put copies of a file in different
formats (such as xxx.tiff, xxx.gif,
xxx.ps) in the directory, and make
a link to xxx.multi. The server
will return whichever one a client
This opens great new possibilities
for sharing complex data, as the
system is not limited to standard
data formats: a group can declare
its own private data formats so that
members of the group can use their
preferred applications to handle
the source of data such as word processor
documents, computer-aided design
(CAD) drawings, etc.
Lots of new information is out there,
with 64 servers registered at the
last count. In the physics area,
the database of
-- was changed on request from durham in 2000/5/5 to durpdg.dur.ac.uk TBL -->
and other good things from Durham
and RAL, and many new sites on line,
including more information from DESY
in Hamburg, and from the Czech Academy
of Sciences in Prague. See also the
corresponding article "WWW in Experiments"
by R. Cailliau.
Outside physics, examples of new
information are the " Lysator " computer
society in Sweden, MIT's oldest journal
"The Tech" , NCSA's "Access" magazine
, and High-Performance Computing
information from Loughborough University,
UK. The Legal Information Institute
continues to roll out more US law
in hypertext, while the University
of Vermont's Scholarly Communication
Project serves a number of journals.
The subject catalogue, also known
as the W3 virtual library, as grown
in various areas, but volunteers
(librarians?) are still needed to
keep it up to date in specific areas.
The famous "archie" index of (almost)
all files available by anonymous
FTP has a WWW gateway now called
"Warchie". This software is currently
running at Nexor Ltd in the UK where
it was developed, on the end of a
rather slow link, and so looking
for another home. Any archie sites
would be welcome to take this software
and run it locally. Warchie his
gives very easy access to the world
of FTP archives. There are five
linked indexes which search the database
in different ways. Each returns
a hypertext list which points directly
to the archive sites found.
(previous issue: November 1992 )
Tim BL & RC