freeWAIS Multiformat type and WWW front end

marca@eit.COM (Marc Andreessen)
Date: Mon, 4 Apr 1994 11:28:18 --100
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From: marca@eit.COM (Marc Andreessen)
To: Multiple recipients of list <>
Subject: freeWAIS Multiformat type and WWW front end
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David Crossley writes:
> We do not store our metadata in text files but in an RDBMS.  So we
> do not have any text files to index.  As far as I can see the only
> solution is to run a cron job every few days to generate metadata
> text files from the RDBMS for each dataset and index these.
> Another solution may be to create a text file for each dataset of
> likely keywords, index these and then somehow intercept the query
> with either a WAIS server script or a WWW server script.  Does
> anyone know if this would be possible?

The latter should be possible if you're going through a sufficiently
smart and customized WAIS/WWW gateway.  In other words, the gateway
has to be smart enough to map WAIS search hits to some representation
of files in the RDBMS; a parallel WWW script would then need to be
able to reach inside the database upon receiving a query for such a
representation.  I think that's how it would work...

> I know that Mosaic for X-windows version 2.x clients support this 
> multiformat type.  Do any other clients?
> Do any WAIS clients support this multiformat type so that non-WWW access
> can be provided?

I know xwais does.  I don't believe any other WWW clients do, but I
could easily be wrong.  (Any WWW client that has direct WAIS support
and uses Mosaic's libwww2 should be able to handle it.)

> Enventually we will have to look at some user authentication aspects 
> because some of these datasets will be restricted.  Can someone please 
> suggest some starting points to investigate this?

WWW currently provides "iffy" user authentication (passwords are sent
over the network uuencoded but not encrypted).  See:

You can use this if you're always going through a WAIS/WWW gateway.

I'm not sure what the various versions of WAIS support along these

> This obviously has amazing potential.  Anyone interested in this would 
> do well to look at Marc Andreesen's 'Mosaic And WAIS Tutorial' at
> Thanks for the tips Marc.

Glad they're useful!


Marc Andreessen
Enterprise Integration Technologies
Palo Alto, California,