Thoughts on Structured/Unstructured and Shared Information Management using Wiki and other emerging technologies
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Compound Documents for the web

John Udell recently highlighted the problem of  Compound documents for the web:

An HTML Slidy presentation is a collection of files: a single main XHTML file, a JavaScript file, one or more CSS files, and one or more media files which can be images and, in my case, sometimes also movies. It runs identically from a local disk using the file: protocol and from the web using HTTP. But for an event, the host usually wants to receive your presentation and load it onto their machine. And the zip-transfer-unzip dance is more friction than anyone needs or wants.
Among the solutions proposed, either use RFC 2557 approach of including everything in single page (like a MIME message, but not quite so); or to use a zip/jar file to download and manage those files. Both of them are inadequate and not so web-friendly.

I think we should adopt ATOM standard for this purpose. Firstly, APP protocol (which manipulates ATOM resources) can be used to identify and manipulate individual resources/entries. Second, an atom feed is a single XML document that can contain multiple entries. Though this approach has been used to store feed entries, it is possible to come out with a simple approach where first entry has some sort of list of entries, and the rest of entries are in essence media entries, containing the inline data. All we then need is a good support (like javascript ATOM library) to extract/reference any specific content. In particular, we require a server side mechanism such that just placing this feed as a file on server will enable APP protocol capabilities to manipulate the contents and reference media entries as direct web resources.

The key reason why we should do it is: We just want a linear set of resources in a collection, and not a recursive structure (as in MIME).

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About this blog
All realms of collaboration:
  • Wiki. Weblogs
  • New Integration Platforms for combined structured and unstructured information: Wiki, Portals, Email Clients,
  • Collaborative Document editing, Collaborative knowledge building
  • Email Interfaces to collaborative shares
  • Information organization, management, Publishing: In context of organizations, individuals, Opensource projects etc.
About me:
Name:Vinod Kulkarni

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