Dave Kristofferson kristoff at NET.BIO.NET
Fri Apr 30 15:09:14 EST 1993

My colleague Kenton Hoover today has made an important step in
extending the benefits of the Internet to our non-Internet users.

I am pleased to announce the new BIOSCI waismail e-mail server.  We
completed final testing this AM and believe that it is now ready for
release to the community at large.

Kenton has done a fine job in putting this program together.

Waismail allows users who do not have Internet access to search by
e-mail our WAIS (Wide Area Information Server) archives of BIOSCI
postings.  These are the same archives that are currently used by
those on the Internet with access to WAIS and gopher software.

Waismail also allows us to maintain *one* set of indexes which can be
used to serve all parts of our user community via WAIS, gopher, and
e-mail.  This is a significant advantage over other possible, but
older, software solutions for archive retrieval.

We will be putting up the various BIOSCI documents for individual
retrieval on this server very soon - although appropriate use of
waismail would pull them out now from archived newsgroup postings.

	 New E-mail/Snail mail/etc. address database project

With the completion of waismail, we will now begin some new projects
which will utilize this software.  Next week we will begin to create a
comprehensive database of biologists using BIOSCI on the network.  I
will be distributing an address form on the various newsgroups
periodically which will be collected and indexed for WAISMAIL, WAIS,
and gopher retrieval.  Other projects will also be announced soon.

			 How to Use Waismail

The help file is included below, but it can also be retrieved by
sending the word 


in the body of your e-mail message (leave the Subject: line blank) to
the address

waismail at

We request that you use this resource wisely.  Please *read the
directions* below, instead of sending off random experiments.  Please
pay particular attention to the examples at the end of the help file
which illustrate some techniques for pulling up specific useful

WAIS searches with some parameter settings have the potential for
consuming lots of resources.  We have established a queue for these
jobs which will only run two at a time on our machine.  Turnaround
should be reasonably fast though, unless large amounts of output are
requested, and will probably be limited primarily by the number of
jobs waiting in the queue.  PLEASE remember that this is a *shared*
resource.  We would appreciate it if people would not hog the queue by
sending in large numbers of requests simultaneously.  Miss Netiquette
says that, after sending off two or three queries, you should wait to
get your results back before sending more requests.  Large result
files are split up for mailing, so this will also ease your task of

We are happy to acknowledge that this work and the BIOSCI project in
the U.S. is supported by our grant from NSF with contributions from


				Dave Kristofferson
				BIOSCI/bionet Manager

				kristoff at


		   BIOSCI waismail server help file
		    (last revised 4/30/93 - D.K.)

For those who do not have access to WAIS or gopher software, the
BIOSCI waismail server can be used for text searching of the following
two BIOSCI WAIS archives.  For those on the Internet, access to these
archives is also available via WAIS and gopher as described in the
BIOSCI "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ) sheet.  To obtain a copy of
the FAQ, please send a request for it to biosci at  (The FAQ
and other BIOSCI documents will also be retrievable soon via this

These indexes are updated automatically each night to include that
day's postings.

WAIS Indexes                    Information Indexed
------------                    -------------------

biosci                          Complete archive of BIOSCI/bionet postings

biology-journal-contents        Complete archive of
                                  Table of Contents postings

To use the waismail server, please send a message to 

waismail at

containing your search request.

The Subject: line in your message will not be processed and can be
left blank.

The body of your message can either contain the text


which will retrieve this file, or it should contain a "source" line,
indicating the index that you wish to search, a "depth" line,
indicating the number of messages (from the biosci index) or number of
*references* (from the contents index) to return, and finally a last
line containing text to find, e.g.,

From: kristoff at
To: waismail at

source biosci
depth 30
PCR sequencing

More detailed examples are given further below.

The "source" and "depth" lines are optional.  If omitted, the source
will default to searching the biosci index, and the depth will default
to returning 50 hits.

Queries are case-insensitive, i.e., either upper or lower case or a
mixture may be used.

The source line must be EITHER (but not both) of the two lines below:

source biosci

source biology-journal-contents

If the source line is omitted, the default is "source biosci".

The depth line starts with the word "depth" followed by a space and
then an integer from 1 to 1000, e.g.,

depth 75

If the depth line is omitted the default is "depth 50".


VALUES.  The resulting messages will be returned to you in segments
labeled as, e.g., "(part 1 of 2)" on the Subject: line of the mail
messages.  The correct strategy is start with a small depth value and
only increase it if you don't find what you want.

The only mandatory line in the query is the one containing the text to
be found, and this must follow the optional source and depth lines.
Only ONE (1) line of query text is permitted.  Multiple words can be
entered and must be separated by spaces.  The version of WAIS that we
employ does not allow the use of Boolean operators, but messages
containing multiple text hits will score higher and be ranked first in
the messages that will be returned.  Note however that WAIS may not
rank complex queries exactly as you might expect intuitively, so be
prepared to look through the top 5 to 10 records to find what you want
in some cases.

All query messages are placed in a queue for execution.  We allow only
two jobs to run simultaneously.  Currently there is no way to monitor
how many jobs are ahead of you in the queue, so please just be patient 8-).

We would also appreciate it if people refrain from sending in more
than two jobs before they receive the results back from their previous

The following sample illustrates some of the information that is
included at the head of your results message.  Note that the number
11284 in the Subject: line below is a job id number to help you
reassemble the pieces of large outputs.

Subject: WAISMAIL-11284-part 1 of 2


A mail to WAIS interface

Using source biosci
Search depth is 5
Using keywords 'Journal of Bacteriology, vol. 172, no. 2, February 1990'

5 records returned by WAIS



If you have questions about waismail or want to report problems,
please send a message to biosci at

waismail was written by Kenton Hoover at IntelliGenetics.


Query Message Example 1: 
(This message searches the biosci index and returns up to 30 messages
 containing the text "PCR sequencing" and/or "PCR" and/or "sequencing".
 Messages containing "PCR sequencing" and ("PCR" and "sequencing")
 appear first in the list.) 

From: kristoff at
To: waismail at

source biosci
depth 30
PCR sequencing

Query Message Example 2:
(This message searches the biology-journal-contents index and returns
 up to 50 references, by default because  "depth" is omitted,
 containing the text "superoxide dismutase" and/or "superoxide" and/or

From: kristoff at
To: waismail at

source biology-journal-contents
superoxide dismutase

Query Message Example 3:
(This message searches, by default, the biosci index and returns, by
 default, up to 50 BIOSCI postings containing the text "superoxide
 dismutase" and/or "superoxide" and/or "dismutase".)

From: kristoff at
To: waismail at

superoxide dismutase

Query Message Example 4:
(This is the way to retrieve the entire table of contents (TOC) for a
 particular issue posted to the BIO-JOURNALS/bionet.journals.contents
 newsgroup.  Remember first that the biology-journal-contents index
 only returns individual references.  If you want the *entire* TOC, you
 must search the biosci source which indexes entire postings for
 retrieval.  Note also that the depth parameter is set to pull up 5
 messages.  As a result of internal WAIS logic/constraints, the issue
 in question showed up as record #4 in our tests both by e-mail and
 with Internet WAIS.  A few other issues of the Journal of Bacteriology
 were ranked first.  Finally note that the query follows the format of
 the Subject: line on BIO-JOURNALS postings: first the journal title
 without abbreviation, vol. ##, no. ##, ## Month 19##.  Some TOCs do
 not have publication date info included, so a minimal query should have
 simply: journal title, vol. ##, no. ##)

From: kristoff at
To: waismail at

source biosci
depth 5
Journal of Bacteriology, vol. 172, no. 2, February 1990

Use your imagination and you will probably find other clever uses for
these tools.  Please let us know about them and we will include your
examples with attribution in this help file.  Please send your
examples to biosci at

-- End of waismail help --

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