Advanced Web Presentation through Web Objects

Leon Shklar

Bell Communications Research, 445 South St., Morristown, NJ 07960
Computer Science Department, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08903

A side-effect of the universal acceptance of the World-Wide Web is an urgent need to provide Web access to the vast legacy of existing heterogeneous information. We believe that the most promising approach is building logical data models and using these models to support sophisticated presentation of the original information. The objective of our InfoHarness system [shk94, ssk95] is to provide rapid access to large amounts of heterogeneous information without any relocation, restructuring, or reformatting of data. Like MORE and HyperG, the InfoHarness system utilizes object encapsulations for search and retrieval of heterogeneous information.

An InfoHarness object is defined recursively as one of the following:

  1. A simple InfoHarness object encapsulating a logical unit of the original information.
  2. A collection object that contains a set of pointers to other InfoHarness objects and possibly a reference to an independent content-based and (or) attribute-based indices.
  3. A composite object that combines a simple object and a set of references to other objects.
InfoHarness utilizes stable abstract class encapsulation and presentation hierarchies, which need not be modified to add terminal classes that accommodate new types of information and new indexing technologies. It provides tools for the automatic generation of metadata based on user inputs and the analysis of existing information.

InfoHarness is now part of Bellcore's new ADAPT/X product line. Our prototype extension to InfoHarness supports complex structures of content-descriptive attributes. It utilizes an extension to ODMG's Object Query Language (OQL) for integrating queries against independent full-text indices into the traditional OQL queries.

Closely related to this effort is our work on defining an Information Repository Definition Language (IRDL) [shk95] - a high-level language for describing information resources and the desired logical structure of information repositories. The language provides high flexibility in imposing abstractions on heterogeneous information. Presently, the usefulness of IRDL is limited because the interpreter generates metadata entities that may be loaded into an InfoHarness server and instantiated as InfoHarness objects. This could change with the native Web support for objects, making the IRDL work much more interesting.


K. Andrews, F. Kappe, and H. Maurer. Serving Information to the Web with Hyper-G WWW'95, Darmstadt, Germany. Computer Networks and ISDN Systems 27(6), Elsevier Science, 1995, pp. 919-926.
D. Eichmann. T. McGregor, and D. Danley. Integrating Structured Databases Into the Web: The MORE System , WWW'94, Zurich, Switzeland. Computer Networks and ISDN Systems 27(2), Elsevier Science, 1994.
L. Shklar, S. Thatte, H. Marcus, and A. Sheth. The "InfoHarness" Information Integration Platform, Proceedings of WWW'94, Chicago, IL. NCSA/UIUC, October 1994, pp. 809-820.
L. Shklar, A. Sheth, V. Kahyap, and K. Shah. Use of Automatically Generated Metadata for Search and Retrieval of Heterogeneous Information, CAiSE'95, Jyvaskyla, Finland. Lecture Notes in Computer Science #932, Springer-Verlag, 1995, pp. 217-230.
L. Shklar, K. Shah, and C. Basu. Putting Legacy Data on the Web: A Repository Definition Language , WWW'95, Darmstadt, Germany. Computer Networks and ISDN Systems 27(6), Elsevier Science, 1995, pp. 939-951.