9305RC -- News

WWW in Experiments and for CERN information

by R. Cailliau ECP/PT


Since CHEP'92, many experimental groups have expressed interest in using the World-Wide Web for their information systems.

At the CERN the experiments ATLAS, CMS, EAST and RD13 have already put some of their information on the web; NA48, ALEPH, L3 and others are in the process of doing so. You can find the list using W3 itself: start from the CERN Welcome page and follow the "Experiments" link. This list grows as groups feel they are ready to go on the air.

From within the HEP community, we have general documentation and on-line access of some data bases through W3 from DESY, the ZEUS and HERMES experiments, IN2P3, KVI, NIKHEFand RAL. Durham has provided an index to reaction data and particle properties. A lot of information from FermiLab, LANL and SLAC has been available for some time.

Documentation about Cern systems and services is also available: STING for software technology, WWW itself, the ASIS software repository and the CERN Program Library all have been accessible for some time. Now the entire ADAMO documentation is on-line, the RPC user guide is there and the CADD people provide information about their work. You can find the list by following "Systems and Services".

CERN general, division and group information is partially available and continues to grow.

How to join

The PT group in ECP division helps new users of W3. You need not invest a lot of effort to start off. This article is intended to help you identify some of the problems and provide solutions for successfully using W3 within your group or experiment. If you have any problems following the guidelines below, contact me (cailliau@cernnext.cern.ch, telephone 5005).

Three different uses can be made of WWW:


This is the easiest to do: you just install the most appropriate browser on the platform(s) of the group. Today, on X-window systems, xmosaic from NCSA is probably the best tool for that job. Inside CERN, the major machines (VM, dxcern, ASIS, ...) and clusters already have clients installed, just type "www" or "xmosaic".

ECP/PT group released a browser for the Macintosh. (for more details about recent client releases see the web itself and the article "May WWW News" by T. Berners-Lee).



Providing information is somewhat more involved. Bigger groups and experiments will just install everything on their own equipment, with or without help from ECP/PT (although the procedure given below is also available to them!).

However, to facilitate the use of W3 from within small groups of HEP users from inside or outside CERN, ECP/PT group provides a server called www1 and some disk space, as well as a copy of an embrionic fill-in-the-data hypertext structure. This minimises the effort you have to invest in order to get off the ground.


The procedure is as follows: Later on, when things grow, you will probably wish to move on to your own W3 server, but you may want to remain indefinitely on www1 if you feel that as a group you do not possess the expertise to run your own service.


Images can be provided if your client station can view the drawing format. Most X-window stations have Ghostview for PostScript. Be aware though that even if everyone inside your group has a station capable of displaying the images, many outside users do not, so they may not have access to part of your information.

Internal use

An internal information system for a group can range from a few text documents to a full-blown web with data bases, demonstrations, on-line documentation etc. How far you want to go depends on the amount of effort you wish to put in and what the return really is. The best approach is to experiment a little, put some of the information in, show it to group members and then to watch the access frequency (the basic W3 server maintains a log of document accesses).

It is also instructive to browse around other people's servers and get inspiration for your own information layout. For example, in the PT group we offer information about our people, services and activities (follow "divisions, groups and activities" from the CERN Welcome page, then "ECP" then "PT").

If you wish to start internal use, get an in-depth tour from me.