Re: Client-side searching proposal

Gary Adams - Sun Microsystems Labs BOS (
Tue, 31 Jan 1995 15:19:36 +0100

> From: Gavin Nicol <>
> Subject: Re: Client-side searching proposal

> >Yes, this is possible. The original proposal however would also allow
> >anyone to specify a cleint side search keyword, which would mean
> >that I could jump to and highlight any part of your document that
> >I wanted, without you providing a search engine or adding an anchor
> >specifically for my needs.
> You can also do this without contacting the server, or using URL's.
> One problem with this is that you limit yourself to searches that are
> applicable to HTML and to document fragments. Say I have a 350MB SGML
> document, and I want to search for:
> activists within 20 words of templar
> or a database to which I send my natural language query:
> List all the employess with large salaries
> What should happen? We need to standardise this functionality (or at
> least the mechanisms allowing it), and this whole client side
> searching thing is just a subset of this bigger problem.

There are standard SQL exetensions that provide for a limited amount of
full/text query specification. The formulation of the query is only half of
the problem. The more difficult part of the problem (in my opinion) is how do
you handle the "sub-document" addressability for the relevant fragments of
the document to be retrieved or to be highlighted. Traditional database
approaches to these binary large objects (aka BLOBs) has been to include a
cursor mechanism that permits iteration over blocks of the externally stored
file data. The stateless nature of http would not be efficient for this type
of interaction. What has resulted in the current environment is essentially
an annotation system whereby the server translates the original document
along with the retrieval annotations into a transient document (e.g. a view
of the original document with perhaps highlighted keywords or regions of the
document along with local navigational links) built on the fly. For larger
documents the same annotations that have been constructed remotely also make
sense for local client browser functionality, particularly for systems over
low bandwidth networks.

Gary R. Adams Email: Gary.Adams@East.Sun.COM
Sun Microsystems Laboratories Tel: (508) 442-0416
Two Elizabeth Drive Fax: (508) 250-5067
Chelmsford MA 01824-4195 USA (Sun mail stop: UCHL03-207)
SWAN URL: http://labboot.East/~gra/