Re: We need to start talking about group and public annotations

Fisher Mark (
Wed, 20 Jul 1994 16:46:18 +0200

Linda Stewart writes in <>:
>John and Brian,
>After lurking here in the shadows awhile, I finally stumble on a subject
>dear to my heart. I am sole tech writer for a team in the FAA that
>develops and maintains software that calculates instrument approach
>procedures for airports. I am converting all our documentation to online
>using HTML and Mosaic on an SGI Indigo2 network.
>The developers and users of the system consist of 3 groups: programmers,
>spec writers, and endusers. They all see documents, attend meetings, work
>on projects and need a more efficient annotation system when viewing
>notes and other documents. I designed (however dangerous) script that
>captured the form input and appended it to the same file containing the
>formatted the text and redisplayed it. To do this, of course, the file had
>to have full permissions to the world and had potential for failure. Our
>group was small enough and knowledgeable enough to use it properly and it
>worked quite well.
>I would love to get my hands on something that made annotating a simpler
>process for groups. Please keep me informed of developments if possible.

I would like to be informed, too.

My solution to the problem (globally viewable annotations for a reference
document repository) (which is wedged in my neurons at the moment rather
than on-disk) is to access the annotations through a CGI script. For
example, if we have the hypothetical URL:
for a document, the annotations would be accessed via:
where "/mlf1/netbios.txt" is the PATH_EXTRA for the CGI script. (The TCE
Corporate Technical Memory is the name for our internal repository.) It
would on-the-fly gather all the annotation files (formatted in text/plain
and text/html), producing output with each annotation preceded by the author
and date of the annotation like so:
Mike Gideon, Thu Apr 14 02:04:09 EST 1994
This is great! It helped me get CAPS running as well as Lotus Notes!

Elaine Cordwainer, Tue Jul 5 06:45:33 EST 1994
Since we are switching to WfWG 3.11, isn't a document on how to
increase the # of real-mode NetBIOS sessions obsolete?

The annotations would be submitted via FTP or NFS to a spool directory on
the Web server (in a form like that of the old UNIX v7 lpr daemon) where
from the daemon moves them to their proper place. Annotations would be
found directly in:
with URLs like:
(for the first annotation above). This spooling method is the same as what
we use for document submissions now.

I hope this helps.
Mark Fisher Thomson Consumer Electronics Indianapolis, IN

"Just as you should not underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon
traveling 65 mph filled with 8mm tapes, you should not overestimate
the bandwidth of FTP by mail."