Re: Searching

Tim Berners-Lee (
Mon, 21 Dec 92 10:26:30 +0100

Date: Mon, 21 Dec 92 10:26:30 +0100
From: Tim Berners-Lee <>
Message-Id: <>
To: (Lou Montulli)
Subject: Re: Searching

>  From: (Lou Montulli)
>  Date: Fri, 18 Dec 92 15:26:25 CST

>  WAIS searching is adequate for many applications but ergonomically 

>  it has a long way to go.  The currently search methods provided by 

>  WWW and Gopher are inadequate for many needs.


I agree that a forms intreface is something they all lack, and there
have been a number of proposals to make documents into forms.
(The main problem is, we don't have editors yet. When we do, then
there will be plenty of work on forms.)

>  For an example, assume a hypothetical database for calendar information.
>  It is designed to allow the user to pick among a finite set of events 

>  and show them based on a date range.  A CWIS interface to the data
>  might look like the following.

In fact, your example is a good one for showing how flexible
W3 can be! See documentation with examples in

Here's one of an infinite :-) number of ways of doing it.
Let's suppose the categories are called A-Z.  At any time the
user has a certain number of categories selected, and we
represent his screen at the time with the document name


When he is in this state, his screen shows something like that
below.  This is obviosly just a hypertext document generated by
the server in response to a request for /Calendar/ABSGLMZ/Setup.html.
I have represented link anchors with [brackets] here - think of it
with a point & click interface or a line-mode numeric selection.
        Welcome to The University of Kansas Events Server

            See [list of all these 569 events]

            Starting search date:  Dec, 18 1992
              Ending search date:  Jan, 18 1993

 This is a calendar of events in the following categories (select links
 to exclude them from the calendar)

   Academic field    [exclude]     Museum & gallery   [exclude]
   Academic year     [exclude]     Music              [exclude]
   Athletic          [exclude]     Other cultural     [exclude]

 There are 569 events in these categories: See complete [list],
 or type keywords.

 Other categories available as as follows (Follow links to include them
 in the calendar)

   Ceremonies & recognitions  [include]  Parties		  [include]  

   Club & group meetings      [include]  Recreational		  [include]  

   Conferences & workshops    [include]  Service & charitable     [include]  

   Film                       [include]  Special academic matters [include]  

   Holidays, etc              [include]  Theatre                  [include]  

   Lecture                    [include]  Training events          [include]  

   Local & area               [include]  University governance    [include]

You can also set the [start] and [end] search dates.
The user can select any of the 20 fields as being on or off by following
links. It is as though there are 2**20 virtual calendars.  (The user is in fact
naviagting a hypercube here, which is exactly what (s)he does when using radio
buttons anyway. The user intreface is not changed in fact from a panel).
Here I have assumed that the "document" can accept searches, and we say that
any search text given will be taken as keywords. There are links to a few
other nodes:

 /Calendar/ASGLMZ/Setup.html    Identical except category B excluded (etc)
 /Calendar/ABCSGLMZ/Setup.html  Identical except category C included (etc)
 /Calendar/ABSGLMZ/Start.html   Identical except keywrds taken as start date
 /Calendar/ABSGLMZ/End.html     Identical except keywords taken as end date
 /Calendar/ABSGLMZ/List.html    Includes the list of events in categories

(I should have included the search dates in the string like
 /Calendar/921218/930118/ABSGLMZ/*.html but also I would advise in practice
 /Calendar/LastMonth/ABSGLMZ/*.html as a default)

>  How can this be done 

>  given the current implementation of WWW and others like it? 

You can see that the program to generate these pages is simpler than the
interactive CWIS program to write.

Another neat thing is that when the user has found the ideal combination,
she can put a bookmark on it, or make a link from her home page or any
other document to it.  With LastMonth as the search date, she can follow
this link to review the calendar any time.

>  :lou