Re: WWW: Helper Applications

Antti Auer (auer%JYU.FI@vm.ucs.UAlberta.CA)
Wed, 7 Jun 1995 11:19:31 +0300


On Tue, 6 Jun 1995, David R. Woolley wrote:

> Peter Murray-Rust has put his finger on how many of the existing problems
> with the Web will be solved, I think.  Many Web browsers have the ability
> to start up "helper" applications that can display various types of files
> that the browser itself can't handle.

For instance latest Netscape for Win-version supports also OLE
(<embed>-tag) to just click an object in WWW-document to start the
application.

> 3. Writing a helper application is not simple!  It's a breeze to create
> HTML documents - the language is easy to learn, and there are a growing
> number of easy-to-use HTML editors that will do most of it for you. But
> creating a helper application is a full-fledged programming task.

That is true. Fortunately for instance the Spyglas Mosaic-browser,
included in Windows-95 (hope it will be there...) supports
local forms. So, you dont need script-programming to make forms. That
helps a lot.

> But even when Java-capable browsers are available for Windows and the
> Macintosh, my third point will still be an obstacle. It will still be a
> complex programming job to write a sophisticated helper application.

Latest Netscape for Win supports dynamic documents too.

> What I'm trying to get at with this question is whether, given the current
> state of the Web, the strategy used for the Birkbeck course is a cost-
> effective method of teaching.

New features will emerge all the time; in year or two WWW is different,
developers should count on development going on. We will see 3D-interface
to WWW soon (already available for SGI). I can imagine that topic like
protein structures could make much use of it. The impression I got in 3rd
WWW-conference (have a look at http://www.elsevier.nl/www3/welcome.htm)
was, that much effort is put on to make WWW to coopertive (interactive !)
tool - not just tool for storing, delivering and searching information.
Much work is done on authoring/publishing in the Web. WWW-e-mail
-interface like one made for this conference is one example. As you wrote,
almost everything can already be done through helper applications. I share
the opinions, that WWW will be in the (near) future technology to connect
(Inter)net, what ever you are going to do through it.

The speed of the net is a different (though related) question. I believe
the commercialization of the net helps to make the investments in bandwith
needed and, what is important, to get reasonable rated access available
for everybody (except in the third world...).

--------------------------------------------
 Antti Auer        ***          auer@jyu.fi
 University of Jyvaskyla        Finland
 Cotinuing Education Centre