WAIS - information

Dan Jacobson x-8453 danj at WELCHGATE.WELCH.JHU.EDU
Sat May 30 21:02:51 EST 1992

A request was made for information about WAIS so here goes.

WAIS stands for Wide Area Inforamtion System and is a protocol for
a distributed database system.   The basic idea is to make databases
available from anywhere on the network to anybody who has set up the
software.  There are clients for many different machines now so that you
will be able to search databases all over the world regardless of what
your platform is.   There are over 225 wais databases available now and the 
number is growing.  The databases that have been waised vary from biological
databases like REBASE and PROSITE (among others) to newsgroups (such as the
bio-sci/bionet newsgroups), FAQs, A Unix manual, the CIA world database

The software falls into two categories, clients - which allow you
to search other wais databases, and servers - which allow you to create new
databases for your own use or to offer for everyone's use if you'd like.
All the software is free, in the public domain and available by anonymous ftp.

For starters you can telnet to quake.think.com and login as wais and search
databases from there until you have your own client up and running.  There are
clients for Unix boxes (curses, emacs and X-windows), Vax/VMS, Macs and PCs (DOS
or Windows) available so if you have any of those hooked up to a network which
connects you to the internet you can probably use that software.  

You can get the main Wais package by anonymous ftp from think.com in the wais
directory.  There's also a readme file there which will tell you about the 
other clients available at other sites.

This is the /wais directory at think.com

-rw-rw-r--  1 1294     staff        6267 Apr 28 23:26 README
-rw-rw-r--  1 1637     staff      614093 Mar 25 23:35 WAIStation-0-63.sit.hqx
-rw-rw-r--  1 1277     staff      635999 Sep 12  1991 WAIStation-Canned-Demo.sit.hqx
----r--r--  1 14       staff        5941 Mar 22 21:52 WAIStation-NeXT-1.9.1.README
----r--r--  1 14       staff      988275 Mar 22 21:52 WAIStation-NeXT-1.9.1.tar.Z
-rw-rw-r--  1 1277     staff        1274 Sep 19  1991 WAIStation-README
drwxrwxrwx  3 1277     staff        1024 Apr 15 20:38 Z3950
-rw-rw-r--  1 1556     staff       11004 May  8 22:15 bibliography.txt
-r--r--r--  1 1556     staff       13558 Sep 17  1991 motif-a1.tar.Z
drwxrwxrwx  2 14       staff         512 May 10 23:18 old
-rw-rw-r--  1 1637     staff      701183 Apr  7 21:03 wais-8-b4.1.tar.Z
-rw-r--r--  1 1556     staff      712903 May 10 22:23 wais-8-b5.tar.Z
-rw-rw-r--  1 1277     staff       20765 Sep 17  1991 wais-corporate-paper.text
-rw-rw-r--  1 1556     staff      108911 May 21 08:00 wais-sources.tar.Z

and here is part of the README file which gives you a little info and where
to get the other clients available:

Thank you for the interest in WAIS.  The servers on Quake (including the
directory of servers) has 70k requests from over 1100 different hosts all
over the world (18 countries) in a couple of months.  There are now 70
servers including one in Norway, one in Australia, poetry, recipies,
comp.sources, as well as a Connection Machine serving all sorts of things.

There are are a few mailing lists on this subject that you might want to be
	wais-interest: only announcements like this (1 a month or so)
	wais-discussion: moderated mailings every 1 or 2 weeks.  Good
			stuff including all on wais-interest.
	wais-talk: unmoderated for implementors and interactive discussions.
To subscribe to these mailing lists, send email to 
wais-<foo>-request at think.com, or to listserv at think.com.  When using
listserv at think.com, the body of your message must contain 
"ADD yourlogin nameofmailinglist", 
i.e. "ADD barbara at think.com wais-discussion".  Listserv help file is in
/usr/lib/listserv/help at quake.think.com
Archives available from wais server: wais-discussion or anonymous ftp from 

A bibliography of available written materials and resources is available
from /pub/wais/wais-discussion/bibliography.txt at quake.think.com (ftp) or 
WAIS server wais-discussion-archive.src, or on request from Barbara at think.com.

Jonathan Goldman pulled the most recent release together (with help from
developers all over the world, see below):
Highlights of modifications (see the release for the full report)
	Overall: make it more portable, and small enhancements
Thank you to all that have contributed bug reports and suggestions.  There
are no concrete plans for the next release.

Overview of components:
In this release is source code for:
 * Server code:  There is code to index text and picture files.
 * Protocol code: based on Z39.50-1988 using the internet.
 * Clients code: User interfaces for contacting servers
	* GNU emacs interface
	* simple shell interface 
	* Mac interface (in separate WAIStation file)
	* tool kit for making your own interfaces
	* X interface
 * Directory of servers: This is be a network service that lists
	existing servers and how to contact them.
 * A Connection Machine server with some patent information, the CIA
	factbook, and some Biomedical abstracts, info-mac, risks, etc 
	to serve as example servers.  

Other components available elsewhere:
 NeXT release: 	/wais/WAIStation-NeXT-1.0.tar.Z at think.com
 Telnet access: telnet quake.think.com login wais
 DOS: 		/pub/wais/UNC/wais-dos*@samba.oit.unc.edu
 Motif: 	/public/wais/motif-a1.tar.Z at think.com
 IBM RS6000:	/pub/misc/wais-8-b2-dist.tar.Z at ans.net
 SunView: 	/pub/wais/sunsearch.src.*.tar.Z at samba.oit.unc.edu
 VMS: 		/pub/wais/vms*@samba.oit.unc.edu

Best of luck,

Dan Jacobson

danj at welchgate.welch.jhu.edu

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