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Practical Internet Groupware by Jon Udell

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Groupware Aspects of the BYTE Magazine Docbase

The BYTE Magazine docbase presented all of the magazine’s text and images. From the outset, I knew that I wanted to build some kind of repository and use some kind of transformation tool to convert content stored in that repository into deliverable web pages. What motivated that design, at first, was mainly a concern about efficiency. I supposed that an online version of BYTE would interest a lot of people. It did. Over three years, it attracted more than 3 million readers and eventually up to 10,000 a day. My goal was to provide a rich and comprehensive technical reference libary, but one that would respond quickly under heavy load, even over the slow dialup links that were the only means of access for many international users.

The technique I adopted, which I call dynamic generation of statically served pages, generates HTML pages from a markup-language repository. Because the pages were served statically, there was none of the peformance overhead of a so-called “database-driven” site. Throughout the life of this docbase, a 32MB 150MHz server, laughably antique by today’s standards, pumped out archive pages at an ever-increasing rate with no sign of strain.

Yet because the pages were generated dynamically, the docbase enjoyed much of the flexibility that we expect from a database-driven site. In fact, it was database-driven, although not in the conventional sense. The repository was its database. It wasn’t a real-time or relational ...

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