The Future

The WWW initiative has taken off and become the emerging leader in Internet information systems. However, it has been overtaken by its poularity, and many of the original design goals for a collaborative tool have still not been implemented.

At the same time, it is spreads into many fiels which put ddemands on its functionality. Fortunately, these all fitin well with the original design concpets.


Commercial publishing on the internet has been held back by two factors: the restrictions on commercial use of th enet, and the lack of tools. Bothe these have now been lifted, and this has become a surge area of interest. Demans that this put on the web include billing and authentication, as well as customisable styles to allow publishers more power to personalize their documents.

Collaborative work was the original design goal of W3. This involves everyone working together in a group to be able to share knowledge, modifying, annotating, and contributing as well as reading. This is an exciting area. It requires good wysiwyg hypertext and hypermedia editors (which will probably arrive during the next year) as well as authentication of users.

Object-Oriented distributed databases and the web appraoch each other also. providing object-oriented featues in the web will allow users to manipulate objects other than documents. Examples of this may be scientific data, and simulated worlds, in wich multiple users define, and interact with, objects of all conveivable kinds.

While all these developments make life very interesting for internet-connected academics, there is a strong desire to get this access to home and school users. This will involve the development of very efficient protocols for phone lines and caching algorithms to give good performance to dial-in users. This will open up and enormous market, and be a great equalizer across the developed world.

one other of the many factors which impinges on the web is the world of libraries. Just as W3 gives libraries a way to open their doors to the public and give them a level of service never before achieved, so the web with its blossoming collections of information requires the skills of librarianship. The technical demands here are for long-lived naming schems which will survive their creators.

Protocol Enhancements

The HTTP protocol was enhanced in early 1993 to allow many of these features to be incorprated, including multimedia with format negotiation, authentication, more infromation about the clinet being available to the server, more feedback to information providers, and data entry by users.

Other extenstions being refined include a forms language for complex online querie, and more sophisticated markup languages for structured multimedia documents.

The standardisation work is being done by many W3 development teams conjunction with the Internet Engineering Task Force.


There is a vast list of things which have been thought of, and in some cases started, which will enhance the web. Examples include interfacing to commercial relaional databases, and web-wandering robots which check th eintegrity and build indexes of things which they find. There are too many to list here.

Meanwhile, the W3 team at CERN is documenting the existing practice as a set of Internet RFCs, and is providing a coordinating role in the devlopment process.

(Back to the www seminar .)

Tim BL