Distributed Authoring on the World Wide Web Informal Working Group Meeting

Executive Summary

On July, 10, 1996, an informal meeting of the Working Group on Distributed Authoring on the World Wide Web (WWW) was held at the offices of America Online (AOL) Productions in San Mateo, California. There were 14 meeting participants, including members of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) Working Group, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the document management community, software configuration management companies, distributed web authoring tool vendors and researchers, and the academic hypertext versioning community. The main objective of this meeting was to provide a forum where people interested in fostering interoperability between distributed web authoring applications could meet, exchange information about the current state of the art and practice, identify key interoperability issues, and formulate an agenda for achieving interoperability.

The meeting began with a presentation by Jim Whitehead, U.C. Irvine on the history of distributed authoring on the WWW, on the purpose of the distributed authoring working group, and on the purpose of the Working Group on Versioning and Configuration Management of World Wide Web Content. Ron Fein, Microsoft, next gave a presentation on collaborative authoring and WWW features in Microsoft Word. A presentation by Henrik Frystyk Nielsen, W3C, on distributed authoring and his vision of a unified PUT model, finished the morning session. The afternoon began with a presentation by Dave Long, America Online, on AOLpress and AOLserver, which was followed by a presentation by Andy Schulert, Microsoft, on FrontPage. Whitehead next led discussion on the goal of the working group, the sponsorship of the working group, and criteria for completion. At the end of the day, the group discussed what they considered to be key interoperability issues, and developed a list of activities and deliverables to be produced by the working group.

Key Results

  1. The working group adopted as its goal: Enable distributed web authoring tools to be broadly interoperable.
  2. Create a task-oriented list of scenarios which interoperable distributed authoring tools should be able to perform. Keith Dawson, Atria, is the editor of this document.
  3. Create a list which collates the "key functionality" among AOLpress/AOLserver, FrontPage, Word, as well as other distributed authoring tools. Dave Long, America Online, is the editor of this document.

The working group also identified some areas for future work:

  1. Criteria for completion of the group's work were discussed, and need to be clearly described in writing.
  2. The working group was tentatively interested in seeking sponsorship by the W3C. However, before the group is officially sponsored, members needs to know the intellectual property rights implications of such sponsorship.
  3. There should be a reinvestigation of work previously performed by Murray Maloney on standard LINK REL and REV tags.
  4. There should be an investigation by the versioning and configuration management group into the utility of entity tags (etags) for performing versioning.

Detailed meeting notes, a list of participants, a final agenda for the meeting, and slides from the meeting are available at URL:


Finally, the working group would like to thank Dave Long of America Online for arranging the conference room at AOL Productions, and for his in-meeting support. Also deserving thanks are Ron Fein of Microsoft, Henrik Frystyk Nielsen of W3C, Dave Long of America Online, and Andy Schulert of Microsoft, for their insightful presentations, and Dennis Hamilton of Xerox PARC, and Keith Dawson of Atria Software, for their excellent notes, and to all participants for their thoughtful discussion.

University of California, Irvine
Jim Whitehead <ejw@ics.uci.edu>
Department of Information and Computer Science
247 ICS2 #3425
Irvine, CA 92697-3425

Last modified: 13 Sep 1996