The First International Conference on World-Wide-Web, May 1994

See also the on-line talk, which represents a summary of this report and the SIGWEB group that has been set up in the UK.

OverView

The conference was held on May 25-27 at CERN, Geneva, 1994 and organised along the lines of parallel sessions of two concurrent talks and up to three simultaneous workshops. This overview represents only those sessions I was able to attend, and is therefore highly personal. However, all the talks, including the plenary sessions will be made available via the cern web server shortly. In addition, the proceedings will be published by Elsevier in both a printed and a Web form, the latter being freely available at no charge! In what follows, I have not attempted to fully attribute to individuals all the points made, but to try to draw themes out. Any errors of interpretation or fact are entirely mine. I should also point out that these are not "formal" minutes. Others who attended the same talk as me may have come to entirely different conclusions.

Most Important Future Directions.

This panel discussion actually closed the conference, but in many ways nicely summarises why we all met. The following points were offered by the main speakers, and are arranged here in no particular order of preference or priority. The conference closed with a vote of thanks to Robert Cailliau for organising the entire event, and to Tim Berners-Lee for "giving the Web to the Wide World".

Chemical Specifics

The www94 chemistry workshop was attended by 16 participants. The diversity of interests made for an interesting and highly productive discussion. The agenda was approximately that mounted on http://www.ch.ic.ac.uk/talks/www94_chemistry_workshop.html. One point that emerged during discussion was the cyclical and recursive nature of many existing "chemical" servers. Only rarely if ever did a server indicate clearly its "mission", and whether it was basically inward or outward looking. The former existed as a departmental information server or window to the outside world, and therefore consisted largely of links to external resources. Such a server was unlikely to be of much interest to users outside the home institution, since it would contain relatively little original material. There would be little need for many external links to this server. The outward looking server existed to "advertise" the department to the world, and should therefore have a preponderance of original material. It was in the interests of this server to have as many other servers as appropriate pointing to it. Currently, there was almost no indication in most home pages of which of these two any particular server aspired to.

The demonstrations of chemical MIME types and the use of programs such as RasMol and XMol as 3D visualisers caused much interest, since such 3D applications are not yet common outside molecular chemistry and biology. I was fortunate to meet with Mark Pesce (mpesce@netcom.com) who in his own talk (and with Dave Raggett) propounded a three dimensional Cyberspace defined by VRML (Virtual Reality Markup Language). The chemical applications of this look immensely exciting. Mark also told me about a company called S3D Corporation, who will shortly be bringing to market a set of low cost "active" 3D glasses designed to fit to the graphics board of Windows or Macintosh systems, including the IR emitter. I will post more details when the product is finally on sale in approximately 2 months time

Talks with Phillip Hallam-Baker and Dave Raggett convinced us that an attempt be made to incorporate at least some chemistry into the html specifications. This would enable structures to be represented within html documents as "active molecules" rather than as bitmaps as at present. In a parallel strategy, the inclusion of cgi in clients should lead the way to ppm style conversions between the various chemical MIME types that we had proposed in our Internet Draft.

Forthcoming Software Releases

The Status of HTML

The partial uptake of the html and html+ standards as defined by Internet draft documents has resulted in considerable confusion, and significant differences in capabilities between different browsers, and even between different platform versions of the same browser (ie NCSA). In an effort to rationalise this, it is now proposed that the following versions of HTML be recognised

Future Requested Support for HTML

This represents an unordered list, with no attempt at priority assignment.

Electronic Publishing

Generalities.

Next WWW Conference: Mosaic and the Web

This is organised for 17-20 October 1994, in Ramada-Congress Hotel, Chicago, USA. Contact http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/SDG/IT94/IT94Info.html for current information. A call for papers is out. E-mail: lori@osf.org or bkucera@void.ncsa.uiuc.edu
rzepa@ic.ac.uk