The Macintosh server was installed and configured by CAL Unit staff. The machine was set up so that the server was launched whenever the machine was started up. This meant that if any problem was ever encountered, restarting the machine would solve it (apart from major hardware or software failure). A single directory for all HTML files was set up, preventing callers from accessing any other files on the disk, and making it simple to maintain integrity with the UNIX server. A File Transfer Protocol (FTP) program, Fetch, was installed on the machine, and configured to make it straightforward to copy all new files to the correct location on the UNIX server. The UNIX WWW server was set up by an IS officer on an existing UNIX box and a directory for HTML files was created, to which all HTML documents created had to be copied, using FTP.
Running both servers required extra care in the naming and linking of files. The Macintosh operating system is not case sensitive, and allows spaces in filenames; UNIX is case sensitive, and does not allow spaces in filenames. In practice, the secretary involved ensured that the two servers were indistinguishable from each other throughout the pilot.
Once the structure of the server had been designed by the academic staff, templates for the pages were designed by CAL Unit staff. A standard methodology for navigation with an associated set of graphical icons were designed, and instructions on their use were included in the user notes.
The main advantage of using Newsgroups for discussions is that the same program used for accessing the WWW, Netscape, can be used to access Newsgroups, making it possible to provide links from the WWW server to the discussion group at appropriate places, and for students to use a single program for both activities. A request was made to IS for a Newsgroup to be established for this project, and an extended period before deletion of any contribution was negotiated.
HTML documents are text files that have been "marked up" - have had special "tags" inserted in the text. These instruct the browser to perform certain actions, either concerning how text is displayed, or whether an image or another document should be loaded. This means that the original text file tends to look very different from document when viewed with a browser. These tags can be inserted in the text by hand, or special HTML editors can be used. Until recently most of these inserted the tags to achieve the various effects, but another program was needed to see the effect. Later editors attempt to display the effect and hide the tags from the user.
As the secretarial staff given the job of HTML editing for this project both used Wordperfect on the PC, it made sense that they should use its integral editor. Before it was introduced, however, it was felt that the concept behind HTML editing needed to be explained, so that they would be able to create satisfactory HTML documents without a special editor. The first training session was devoted to this. Subsequent sessions introduced the Wordperfect editor, but for a number of reasons, both staff preferred raw HTML editing. HTML_Editor on the Macintosh was also introduced, and over time, this became the editor of their choice. It supported both WYSIWYG and raw editing modes, and because it was on the same machine as the server, involved less time in installing and testing the documents.Running the server
The HTML Editor was set up to default to the server's root directory, making editing and installation a seamless process. The server was configured by CAL Unit staff, and needed no administration; if any problems were encountered, staff were told to restart the machine, which automatically reloaded the server software.
Midway through the project, it was decided by academic staff that lecture notes should only be available to students following the CLT course, but that all other pages should have open access. This was achieved by adding two lines to the configuration file, which made any files containing the string "cltlec" require a password from the user. All lecture notes were then given titles that began with this string (e.g. cltlec3-2.htm). The server program then had a single user name and password added from its main screen, which all students on the course used. It was felt that this was simpler than giving each student an individual user name and password. Staff were shown how to add users and passwords, and this was included in the documentation.
Running a Macintosh based WWW server is extremely simple if only basic features are needed. For this project, this was sufficient, and so training was kept to a minimum, but documentation on its more advanced features was provided.Uploading to the UNIX server
Since it had been decided that for the duration of this project, a UNIX based server would be used in parallel, staff were shown how to upload all documents to the appropriate directory on the server's host machine. A file transfer program called Fetch was used, and was set to default to this directory. Consequently, uploading simply involved launching Fetch, selecting the documents to upload, and clicking on the appropriate button. Once again, training was limited to the tasks that had to be performed; none of the intricacies of the file transfer protocol were addressed.
One of the academic staff was a Macintosh user, and was given the Macintosh HTML Editor along with a short introduction to its use. He had some experience of SGML, on which HTML was based, and so understood the concepts behind this approach. Consequently he edited his own lecture notes, and handed them on a disk to the secretaries, who added navigation links and installed them on the server.
The other lecturer simply provided her lecture notes in word processed format, which were then marked up and installed by one of the administrative staff.Newsgroups - how to use them
Staff Development sessions were provided on using Newsgroups, and how their use might be incorporated in the delivery of the course. Reference was made to other courses which had explored this approach (Duffy et al, 1995)
Graphics Multimedia Virtual Environments Visualisation Contents