FYI: Shared WWW Annotations: Code Available to Developers

Martin Roscheisen (
Thu, 18 May 1995 05:17:03 +0500

We are making available to WWW developers the experimental prototype
implementation which we developed as a vehicle for our research into a
scalable architecture for a generalized form of "group annotations".

Usages which we have found this useful for include structured
discussion about paper drafts, collaborative filtering, seals of
approval/content rating, all sorts of guided tours, shared hotlists
with section-based visibility control, usage indicators, co-presence,
and "Vannevar Bush type" value-added trails.

The code is a couple of months of work by two people. It has been used
mainly on RS6000s, but should also work on other machines.

Server Code: a system of cgi-bin scripts implemented in perl.

Browser Code: a derivative product of NCSA xMosaic. Extensions include

- facilities for shared in-place annotations to arbitrary HTML document
(including dynamically allocated extended/brief menus),
- a META language module which parses meta information and deals with
appropriate callback routines.
- a user profile server which allows users to store their personal
configuration (including personal preferences and the hotlist) at a
place where they can always reach it. (This "base station" is an
extended http server.)
- a light-weight viewing facility for looking at meta information
including annotations (a PostIt type popup window activated by
pressing the middle button),
- navigational aids (callbacks to a tour/map program, another HTML
widget in main layout for title/link display, augmented HTML parser
which recognizes the LINK tag), as well as
- a facility for printing collections of linked documents in Postscript.
- various fixes to and variations on Mosaic.

Please note that this "release" is not intended for general users; it
is targeted at letting other developers get a more tangible experience
beyond the papers which we have published. Also, since the primary
purpose of the implementation was to explore new ideas and concepts,
we do not maintain the code and also do not give any guarantees.

For a description of the system, see the paper

Martin Roscheisen, Christian Mogensen, and Terry Winograd (1994). A
Platform for Third-Party Value-Added Providers: Architecture,
Protocols, and Usage Examples. Technical Report, Computer Science
Department, Stanford University.
Available at URL

The code is also available from a link at this page, or directly at


Martin Roscheisen /
Christian Mogensen /