freeWAIS Multiformat type and WWW front end

David Crossley (
Mon, 4 Apr 94 17:03:41 EST

We are experimenting with providing a WWW front end to a WAIS index of our
holdings of spatial datasets.

I have a number of varied queries and so have posted this message to both
the 'www-talk' and 'wais-talk' lists.

freeWAIS-0.202 provides a multiformat type which allows us to prepare a
WAIS index of text files which document the metadata about each dataset.
If the WAIS query results in a hit on a metadata file then all associated
files with the same root filename are presented by XMosaic.

For example a hit on 'state_boundaries.TEXT' will return:
TEXT ..... the metadata text file
GIF ...... an image of the spatial dataset
PS ....... some documentation as a postscript file
TAR ...... the actual spatial information as a UNIX tar file
HTML ..... a pointer to an HTML document on the WWW server

However I have a few queries about all this...

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?

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?

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?

Is anyone else doing work in this area and are they willing to share
their discoveries?

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.

We hope to have a test server up and running in a couple of weeks at when this WWW server wil be revitalised.

I will monitor www-talk and wais-talk and fold any email directly to me
plus my own ongoing research into a summary to both lists if there is any
ERIN Environmental Resources Information Network ERIN

David Crossley
Geographic Information Systems Manager

internet: GPO Box 636
phone: +61 6 2500373 Canberra ACT 2601
fax: +61 6 2500360 Australia