How do You us the WWW?

Subject: How do You us the WWW?
From: Linda Stewart <BLONDBOMB -at- DELPHI -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 6 Jul 1994 20:55:49 -0400

On July 6, 1994, LaVonna Funkhouser wrote:
> So, if you currently make use of WWW, please briefly state
> the way you use it and why you find it beneficial (if you do).

I work with the Instrument Approach Procedures Automation team
at the FAA in OKC. We are presently converting all hardcopy
documentation to online hypertext using HTML and Mosaic on an SGI
Indigo2 network. We also converted all our local man pages to
HTML and wrote a script that converts all the SGI man pages to
HTML on the fly to display in Mosaic. These are easily accessible
from the customizable documents pull-down menu in Mosaic.

All our in-house developer and procedural documents are now written
and maintained in HTML as well as all help files and tutorials
accessible from newly developed applications.

Future plans include converting the TERPS (Terminal Procedures) .19,
and .32 manual into HTML. These manuals are used by airport
procedure specialists all over the world.

In April, Robert Cailliau from CERN (HTML's birthplace) came to
the FAA to speak. Well over 10 major divisions were represented
in that meeting and subsequent follow-up meetings ensued with
plans to use this technology in other groups. It's easy to
maintain, provides great flexibility for the user and for us, the
price was right. We will have approximately 128 users on this
system when complete.

>Also note that WWW viewers (to my knowledge) are not commercial
>products. If you include a WWW viewer as part of your product,
>YOU inherit all its bugs and short comings.

NCSA licensed Mosaic to a private company who will soon produce
a commercial product. I know of several other commercial products
who support SGML that are adapting for the HTML DTD.

>- Distributing documents over the net makes updates trivial; update the
> file, and its done. The next time your customer views the document,
> the get the update.


>- Distributing documents over the net, however, also means that you
>have no control over someone copying your docs, modifying them, and
>distributing them elsewhere.

True. There are security measures, however. You must decide what
you want to *give* the world.

> and rumored ports of browsers to the Amiga and NeXT.

I'm not sure about Amiga, but the original HTML browser and WYSIWYG
editor was on the NeXT.

>but in order to take advantage of HTML
>properly you cannot be afraid of doing a little programming.

The markup is not difficult at all. I am working with the UNIX
version of WordPerfect 5.0 (I know, gag me, too...) but I've written
a series of macros that operate like any other attributes. I've
marked up 16 chapters this month by hand using no conversions.

>- HTML, as a markup language, is quite limited. You are restricted in
> layout, design, and document structure. You have one font (with
> bold and italic variations), and few to no special symbols.

Special symbols are limited to "keep it simple" for the line mode
browsers. As for fonts, the browser determines how the tags are

> Multimedia capabilities (graphics, sound, movies) are available, but >formats
are limited (I'm not as familiar with this as I'd like to be).

They are limited only to what will run on your platform. You simply
tell the browser what application to invoke when it encounters
specified extensions.

>I'm not convinced it will work as a
>distribution medium for online documentation without more freedom
>of structure and more control over document contents.

That's the beauty of it. The *USER* gets to determine how they
want your document to look. HTML, like SGML is logical markup.
Granted, the logical entities are limited, but I wrote a documentation
style guide to promote consistency which will give us the power to
effectively use search engines to automate indexing.

>DEC (aka Digital :-), for example, has announced that they will be
>shipping Mosaic with every system they sell (VMS, OSF/1, or Windows/
>Windows NT).
The public domain version of Mosaic is available for free distribution.

We should soon have Internet connection to our local network, so
until then, I would be happy to answer any questions at my personal
e-mail address.

Linda Stewart
blondbomb -at- delphi -dot- com

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