BUSINESS ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB: where "word of keystroke" begins

May 29, 1997 -- Web-access to databases and database-enabled Web applications


Transcript of the live chat session that took place Thursday, May 29, 1997. These sessions are normally scheduled for noon-1 PM Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -4) every Thursday.

These sessions are hosted by Richard Seltzer. If you would like to receive email reminders of our chat sessions, simply send a blank email message to businessonthewebchats-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/businessonthewebchats and sign up there.

For transcripts of previous sessions and a list of future topics, click here .

For an article on how to make "business chat" work (based on this experience), click here .

Since the chat itself happens at a rapid pace, it's often difficult to note interesting facts in particular URLs as they appear on-line. Here's a place to take a more leisurely look. I've rearranged some of the pieces to try to capture the various threads of discussion (which sometimes get lost in the rush of live chat).

Please send email with your follow-on quions and comments, and suggions for topics we should focus on in future sessions. So long as the volume of email responses is manageable, I'll post the most pertinent ones here for all to see.


Threads (reconstructed after the fact):


Today's Participants:

Raul Alcoba

Alkon

Alexi Berrú

Godfrey Buss -- southern New Jersey

Cherish -- from Montana

Claud Epascadil

Tony Giroti (Home Page) -- from Acton, Massachusetts

billh

gj

Javier F (Home Page) -- from Argentina

Steve 'Web Merlin' Harrison (Home Page)

Sudha Jamthe (Home Page)

Jay and Rondi

John (Home Page) -- from North Carolina

Johnmp (Home Page) -- from Chicago

Berthold Langer TheForth (Home Page)

Benjamin Liagre -- from Spain

Steve Liberace

Jim Lindenthal (Home Page)

Kathy Lloyd

Alan Majer

Janet Nichols

scv

Barbara Hartley Seltzer (Home Page)

Richard Seltzer (Home Page)

harjiv singh

steph4e

Guido Stevens (Home Page) -- from the Netherlands

Kaye Vivian  -- from New York

The following folks also tried to connect, but arrived at the wrong time. The sessions run noon to 1 PM Eastern Daylight Savings Time (US) (Greenwich Mean Time -4):

shi -- from China

Stephen Thompson -- from Sydney, Australia

zhongyu1 -- from China


Trying to make contact from China (at 9 AM on Thursday)

zhongyu1 -- oh! I cost nearly an hour to come here , unfortunately, nothing here! It makes me very dismay.

shi -- Is there anybody there who is interested in China trade and equity investment.We might together do something. 


Introductions

Richard Seltzer -- The scheduled chat is on Business on the WWW. If you are here for that discussion, please identify yourself.

We're here to share experiences about doing business on the Internet -- particularly the World Wide Web. What works? What doesn't work? Why? What are the trends that matter? How can you/should you adapt to the Internet culture and environment?

I work for the Internet Business Group at Digital Equipment in Marlboro, MA. In that capacity, I end up talking to people from large companies about how they can use the Web for business.

I also have my own personal Web page -- which is content rich and no frills -- which I do for practically nothing and draws a fair amount of traffic and attention.

Richard Seltzer -- Hello, all those of you who are here for the chat session about business on the World Wide Web, please identify yourselves.

Alexi Berrú -- Hey! Alguien habla español.

Guido Stevens -- Hi, anybody out there? Just can't figure out these timezones. Have I missed the party?

Sudha Jamthe -- Hi Guido Stevens, The chat starts at noon Eastern Time is GMT -4 hours. If you are still here, it shd start in less than 10 minutes

Guido Stevens -- Thanx Sudha. I'd figured out as much when I saw the timestamp on my own message. I'll log off, its diner time round here. Maybe I can find an opportunity to rejoin.

Richard Seltzer -- Hello, Alexi and Guido, welcome.

Richard Seltzer -- We're here to talk about Business on the World Wide Web.
Please introduce yourselves and tell us about your interests. That will help us get off to a fast start.

Richard Seltzer -- I just returned from a ten-day speaking trip in South America. By any chance are some of your who are connected now folks who I met on that trip?

Barbara Seltzer -- Hi! I'm here.

Richard Seltzer -- We also had a couple of people from China (I believe one from the mainland and one from Hong Kong) connect over night -- apparently confused by the time zones. I sent them email and hope that they'll be able to join us today.

Richard Seltzer -- We plan to focus on databases today -- Web access to databases and data-base enabled Web applications. Tony Giroti from Maxsol (in Acton) has said that he plans to connect. And John Lee from Interwoven was also invited.

John -- Hello all, My name is John from NC

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, John, what's your area of interest? Are you doing business on the Web today? In particular, do you use databases as part of your Web presence?

John -- We have started business, on the web selling motorcycle parts. We are attempting to expand on the idea of allow users access to our system to obtain part numbers for their particular bikes. Please excuse the response delay, I am very new to this system.

Richard Seltzer -- It looks like lots of people are connected now (click view occupants to see the list). Please introduce yourselves.

Sudha Jamthe -- Richard: Yes, there are lots of new people mostly from abroad (of US)

Johnmp -- Hi Johnmp here from Chicago

Kaye Vivian -- Hi Richard. Welcome back. Kaye Vivian, Communications consultant from New York area here.

Kathy Lloyd -- Hi. I'm Kathy. This is my first chat room. Glad we're talking about web-enabling databases today.

Cherish -- Hi.. I am from Montana.. concidering starting a business on the web.

Guido Stevens -- Hi all - I'm Guido Stevens, from the Netherlands.

Janet Nichols -- Hi - I'm Janet Nichols Web-Net Education Coordinator.

Sudha Jamthe -- Janet: Hi. Glad you could join us. We just started.

Kaye Vivian -- Is it my imagination or did the form change back to what it was before? Last time the buttons were all in a row at the bottom...not two lines. That is much better. :)

Barbara Seltzer --I guess I should introduce myself with more than "I'm here." My name is Barbara Hartley Seltzer and, until May 1, I was a marketing specialist at Elcom Systems, an electronic commerce software company. I am now looking for a new job.

Kaye Vivian -- Barbara, I've been reading that this a very good time to be job hunting. I hope you can find something soon.

Sudha Jamthe -- Intro: I am Sudha. I am an Internet enthisiasts -work on intranets and manage web-net business networking user group

Godfrey Buss -- Hi - I am principal in a South Jersey consulting firm specializing in communications and high-tech tools for proposal applications and document/image storage. First timer, eager to learn.

scv -- How does this work?

Kaye Vivian -- SVC, just tell us something about your work and answer anyone who says something interesting to you. :) It can get confusing in here, but Richard will send a transcript afterwards with everything organized by topic. Just talk away on your subject and it will make sense later. :)

Sudha Jamthe -- Steve: Glad you could make it. Just read the last 20 messages and you can join the conversation.

Jay -- Hi Everyone, My partner Rondi and I are here to learn more about the different applications and methods there are to incorporate databases on the Internet. We are currently using Cold Fusion 2.0.

Kaye Vivian -- Welcome Jay and Rondi. Read back a few messages and just chime in with any comments or questions. :)

Alan Majer -- Hi Richard - sorry to break in so late but I thought I'd catch the last few minutes...

Tony Giroti -- Hi all -- I am Tony Giroti, co-founder of MaxSol, Inc.
in Acton, Mass, ... we recently launched a Beta version of a Web product called DBLive@Web. 


Internet in South America

Barbara Seltzer -- Richard, What is the status of the Internet in South America?

Richard Seltzer -- Barbara -- In Bogota (a city with over 7 million people) if you want to send email from one side of the city to the other the message has to pass through California. The situation in the rest of South America is similar -- they don't have the infrastructure in place; access is generally slow (except at a few universities). Satellite connections can get around that. And it seems likely that large investments will soon be made to upgrade the infrastructure. Then look for companies down there to leapfrog beyond where most of the US is today -- because they don't have to make tradeoffs, they can move ahead working with a blank slate. Brazil in particular, looks very promising and very willing to adopt new technology.

Sudha Jamthe -- Hi Richard, Good you are back. What were your talks about and how is Internet in S.A?

Richard Seltzer -- In South America, I spoke about AltaVista (at Internet World in Bogota and also in seminars in Rio, Sao Paulo, and Campinas). And I did a keynote on Business Opportunities on the Internet in Buenos Aires. Lots of interest.

Richard Seltzer -- Parting, unrelated thought -- thinking of Crossing the Chasm and seeing the extraordinary interest in and willingness to adopt new technology in Brazil, it dawns on me that it might make sense to introduce new products there first, instead of always in the US. 


Maxsol and DBLive@Web

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, Tony, glad you were able to make it. Please tell us about that new product of yours. I've seen the description and tried the demo at your site http://www.maxsol.com Where does the product stand today? Is it on the market yet, or just in beta/pilot? And who should be interested in it?

Sudha Jamthe -- Hi TOny, can you tell us about DBLive?

Tony Giroti -- Sure, DbLive@Web enables non-technical business users with the
ability to customize and access information from databases, without having any technical skills and knowledge of SQL, CGI, HTML or database schemas. They can simply use any industry standard web browser without any plug-ins, and with a point and click interface then can simply customize and access infoormation based upon their needs and when they need it. Its Status: It entered Beta on May 20 but we have been testing it with real customers for a while now. Potential users: Business users who need access to info from databases using their existing web browsers, based upon their needs and when they need it. Users who do not want to involve technologists or learn SQL, HTML, CGI or database internals... phew! Hope it answers Richard and Sudha's questions.

Sudha Jamthe -- Thanks Tony. How is it diff from a dynamic page creation tool like Cold Fusion or Virtuflex that talk to any SQL database? Can you elaborate?

Tony Giroti -- Sure Sudha, First the Cold Fusion's and Blurstone Sapphire's are Developer's tool-kits -- not for end user. With these products an engineer or a webmaster or a database engineer puts together a web site. Secondly, these products are good for canned web sites where the developer knows what the user will ask for. However, in some scenarios (such as Corporate Intranets, Customer inquiries) an end user may want to get info from databases based upon their needs.

Barbara Seltzer -- Tony, could you give us an example of how a specific customer uses your technology?

Richard Seltzer -- Tony, please explain what your tool looks like from the info provider's point of view.

Tony Giroti -- So by using DbLive@Web, an end user can him-self or her-self connect to these databases from a web browser, select a specific database (and there coul dbe more than one within an organization such as HR, Sales, Corporate, Library etc), get into it and pick the Database they are interested in and launch database queries by a simple point and click interface -- without any SQL development, any HTML forms, or any CGI development.

Kaye Vivian -- Ah, now I understand, Tony. Thanks. So DbLive puts me right into the database(s) so I can do my queries, while some of the other applications mentioned actually shield me from the database and let me just enter my criteria while it runs off and searches for me. Right?

Richard Seltzer -- Tony, as I understand your product, from the info provider's point of view, all you have to do is put an existing database (Oracle, Access, etc.) on the same server as your software, and then with a simple line or two of commands you Web-enable that database, making it easy for anyone with a browser (and no plug-in) to submit queries, generate reports etc. Am I understanding correctly? If so, this seems like a simple way of doing what before took lots of custom programming.

Kaye Vivian -- Richard, I think you answered my questions.

Johnmp -- Tony - I have been using Cold Fusion 2.0 as well. I am trying to understand the creation of an interface which accesses existing documents for Intranet purposes.

Tony Giroti -- Richard, Sudha, Brabara you ask about potential applications of DbLive@Web, ... (1) within an Intranet, a sales person on the phone with a customer needs instant access to specific info from their products database-- info that the customer asked for say the product name, price and description. So the sales person can simply select the name, price and descripotion from perhaps two or three tables and simply click to get the results. They can even set some contraints such as give me all the products that belong to Seafood category etc.) (2) Or from an internet, a supplier can check out your inventory and replinish it or your customer can get a more personalized view of an electronic store front.

Richard Seltzer -- Tony, regarding the inventory application -- do you mean that activity in a database (someone placing an order) can modify the content database from a Web access? (in addition to submitting queries). That would indeed be valuable for on-line commerce.

Tony Giroti -- Yes Richard, in other words, if you have a database today (such as Oracle, Sybase, Access, SQL server or whatever) you can enable it in 2 minutes. You can instantly let your users (internet or intranet) access these databases from any web browser within seconds. And they can access info (not just the canned info but any info) based upon their current business need.

John -- Tony, in regards to allow internet users access to your database, there maybe some information you may not want user's to have access to, is there some type of security you can install or set up parameters of access?

Tony Giroti -- Yes security is paramount. DbLive@Web offers multi-tier security that respects database security and adds additional levels to it because of web based architecture. There is a concept of datamarts i.e. isolated views of data within a database so that selected users get selected views of the database. So your customers can see only the products selling pricing and lead time but not your cost price or wihtin intranets you can see your peer's name and joining date and not their SS# or salary.
Using DbLive@Web you can enable any of your existing databases for Internet or Intranet access within seconds.

Barbara Seltzer -- I would think to access a database or change something in it , you would need a special password. I can't imagine just anyone off the street would be allowed access.

Guido Stevens -- Hi all - not to be rude but I'd like some real discussion. Isn't the big benefit of the Maxsol product it's biggest liability also? Huge flexibility - the user gets lost. As a developer you try to shield off the user from the internals and present him with a series of logical choices. The success of Windows is built just on that - taking away choices to improve usability.

Richard Seltzer -- Guido -- try the on-line demo at www.maxsol.com I believe that their application is very usable (far more usable than Windows.)

Guido Stevens -- I've seen the Maxsol demo. One of its disadvantages in my opinion is that you can't hyperlink from one table into another. You'd want to be able to jump from a listing into a detail view.

Tony Giroti -- Sure Guido, that is why DbLive@Web can as much appeal to a business user as it appeals to a technical user. Say you are a tech user or a DBA and you need to shield your users with the database then no problem -- you can simply publish queries for global access. Once published people with relevent access priviliges can build reports with it. And of course those charts and graphs as well. No damage at all can be done to the database and its all simply a point and click user interface based from a web browser.

Barbara Seltzer -- Tony, has anyone used your product for on-line catalogs?

Tony Giroti -- Barbara, the product is currently being used at some Beta sites including a publisher of a magazine besides other things. We have also used the technology of the product for a number of web sites that we helped develop specifically two catalog companies: http://www.ebc-ne.org and another demo at http://www.maxsol.com/greenbook

Tony Giroti -- The magazine publisher is interested in intranet deployment and for providing access to their magazine data outside their company. the two catalog companies I mentioned are using this as a tool to make money.

Steve Liberace -- Tony: what does the magazine publisher actually use it for? A subscription list?

Richard Seltzer -- Tony -- can you provide other examples of companies using your product in beta mode? URLs?

Tony Giroti -- Example of companies: Plane company, mutual fund company, architecture company, testing company, catalog company and many more. The URLS are witin intranets and currently private but check out www.maxsol.com fo rmore info. Plus also some of the other URLS given earlier by me.

Steve Liberace -- Tony: I know it's late, but can you explain intranet deployment as it relates here before we go?

Johnmp -- Tony - Can you mention what the pricing is on DBLive@Web? 


Database Publishing

Guido Stevens -- To our agency, Net Facilities Group, database publishing on the web is core business - we hardly do anything else.

Sudha Jamthe -- Guido: Glad you could come back on time. What kind of database publishing do you support?

Richard Seltzer -- Guido, welcome, glad you could join us. What kinds of material do you publish? And what sort of Web-based database application do you use? -- Also, do you have an alternative way of making your information available over the Web so that it can be indexed by AltaVista and other search engines (driving traffic to your site)?

Kaye Vivian -- Everyone, I am pretty ignorant of database publishing to the web, and would like some background. I know it's important to know about an understand. Are we just talking about using databases to present information on the fly or in some other way? Give me a crash course, please. :)

Sudha Jamthe -- Kaye: Glad you raised the qestion. Yes, even I'd like a common base about what exactly is the focus when we say database publishing on the web.

Guido Stevens -- Our last project involved a marketplace for used heavy equipment. See occanet: http://www.occanet.com. As to indexing, we use meta tags of course. Also, I'm planning a special page that lists all engine types in the database, kind of a flat text contents. I'll put a client pull into that one, to suck users into the site.

Richard Seltzer -- Kaye -- I'd like to talk about the whole range of alternative ways of presenting information on the Web -- alternatives to .html This would include WAIS (which is what Britannica uses), in addition to providing Web-access to standard database systems. In some cases (like Monsterboard and other job sites), it seems that companies are making plain text files available through databases (I'm not sure why). In other cases, the user can submit queries and generate reports -- where the set of information the user receives is unique, compiled on the fly. I'm sure there are lots of other approaches as well.

Kaye Vivian -- So correct me if I'm wrong here. A company has a database of information available...product list, price list, technical specs, employee phone listing, etc...and the programs we are talking about today interact with the available database(s) to create web pages on the fly, or reply with answers, or generate listings , or present forms for completion?

Guido Stevens -- Kaye, I'd agree. On top of that, there's the aspect of customizing the interface to reflect user preferences. You can also register user search preferences if they want to be notified should something they're looking for turn up on a later date. We use that in a broking application.

Sudha Jamthe -- Richard: Indexing text documents using a database to access via the web is something we are planning in our intranet too. It allows users to keep their documents in whatever format they are comfortable in instead of re-engineering the whole company to publish in html. But, it seems like a lot of work to setup a database and build an application to do this integration with the web. I'll be interested in a tool that can help.

Richard Seltzer -- Sudha -- I believe that the tool Maxsol has could do what you want to do with a minimum of hassle.

Guido Stevens -- Richard, customizing the look of a page is done because you build the site at a deeper layer: there's the CGI generating the HTML on the fly. Change something in the CGI and all HTML changes as well - the user sees only the HTML output.

Cherish -- Richard.. would these alternative ways still be in the form of a homepage?

Richard Seltzer -- Cherish -- In today's world, "home page" doesn't have much meaning. Most Web users seem to navigate by search engines like AltaVista, which means that every page is equal, and any page can be an entry point. Yes, you can have a preferred starting point and have links to that from all your pages, but don't lean too heavily on controlling the visitor context from a home page.

Steve Liberace -- Cherish: for that reason, I prefer the frame with many navigational buttons and a highly modularized design, so the user can get what he/she wants from the page quickly without being lead around by the nose.

Cherish Could someone explain "on the fly"?

Richard Seltzer -- Cherish -- "on the fly" (to me) means that content is assembled or created for a particular instance -- in response to a query, or recognizing who a user is and what the user is interested in. The content does not exist in a static form. I connect, I click on a link, and content is assembled.

Guido Stevens -- Cherish - 'on the fly' means there's no such thing as an ordinary HTML file waiting to be downloaded. Instead, there's a program running on the server that interprets user's actions and reacts by generating a response - a HTML file that is generated and sent specifically to that one user.

Cherish -- Guido.. so that would make things come up more quickly?

Guido Stevens -- Cherish - oh no it's not for speed that you do that. It will be slightly slower. You use this to be flexible in responses and generate a 'transaction' - a series of responses that lead the user to what exactly he or she is looking for.

Sudha Jamthe -- Cherish : Earlier Web Pages were static - meaning they were written once and modified manually. SO maintaining the current is a major responsibility. "On the fly" means making the pages appear dynamically from data from a database or file. The html file is created just when the user clicks on the link.

Kaye Vivian -- Richard or anyone, what are some of the programs that generate these "on the fly" pages? Is it a CGI script that is written (or exists) for this purpose? How does one go about initiating the generation of on the fly pages? (I feel really ignorant about all this and I have been working with corporate web sites for two years!)

Sudha Jamthe -- Kaye: CGIs make the pages on the fly. Most of them create tables on the fly from simple text files. Some tools available require creating a template of how you want the page to look like. Tools I've tried are Tango (for Mac), Virtuflex (for UNIX) and Cold Fusion(for PC). 


Cold Fusion, Tango and Virtuflex

Guido Stevens -- Jay - what scripting language do you use with Cold Fusion? And what server OS do you use? We only use non-proprietary software - my SQL backend with PHP scripting language.

Jay -- Guido- To develop in cold fusion we use only three: CFML (cold fusion's markup lang.), HTML and SQL.

Steve Liberace -- Has anyone used tango or virtuflex for this kind of thing, and what was your evaluation. At web-net we are always talking about these products--any luck?

Steve Liberace -- Any insight into the scalability and performance issues regarding these products?

Sudha Jamthe -- Steve: Tony is here talking about a new tools DbLive that went to Beta recently. Don't bother about old messages, just catch up and feel free to ask any question to Tony.

Kaye Vivian -- Su, I will check into Virtuflex. Cold Fusion is only on the NT server though, I think. It certainly seems to be a great product, from what I've heard. How does it compare to Virtuflex? I'm running mostly on Unix servers.

Cherish -- Guido.. so is this an inhouse type opperation... (using one network) or is it for any online user?

Guido Stevens -- Cherish - why inhouse? These are full internet applications that can be used in an intranet environment as well. We also develop mixed internet/intranet solutions using these technologies.

Richard Seltzer -- Could someone quickly position, Tango, Virtuflex, and Cold Fusion in comparison to this new product from Maxsol? Does one tool meet all needs? Do you need two of them? Does Cold Fusion do some things that the Maxsol product cannot?


.cfm file extension and search engine positioning?

Steve 'Web Merlin' Harrison -- Hi, all. Sorry to jump in late. I have a new client who used Cold Fusion. Even gave his main welcome page (an existing HTML file) a .cfm file extension. Figure that will have any + or - effect on search engine positioning?

Richard Seltzer -- Steve -- I don't think that the .cfm extension will affect search engine positioning. But the best way to find out is to go to AltaVista, click on ADD URL at the bottom of the page, and then enter that URL. If you get an error message at that point, there is a problem. If not, then double check the next day to see how the page appears when it comes up as a match to an AltaVista query.

Jay and Rondi -- Regarding .cfm and search engine placement, the main page of your web-site, even though using Cold Fusion or some other application will most likely have .html or .htm.

Steve 'Web Merlin' Harrison -- Thanks, Richard. "Next day?" Glad to hear A-V is indexing so quickly. My main concern is that there is a lot of white space above the header in source code. Client says it's the way Cold Fusion formats a page. I don't know enough about C.F. to advise if that will jilt the spidering of head Meta or not.

Richard Seltzer -- Steve -- The only way to tell how the page will appear is to test it, with ADD URL at AltaVista. Remember, AltaVista only indexes text. White space shouldn't make any difference.

Steve 'Web Merlin' Harrison -- Jay & Rondi -- that's the way I'd normally seen a site that uses C.F. configured, too. Main welcome page .html and on-the-fly pages .cfm. In this case, client used .cfm for the actual permanent HTML pages. Just wondering if that might cause problems. Thanks.

Steve 'Web Merlin' Harrison -- Richard -- Reason for my concern is I've already tried registering it with InfoSeek's "instant add." The white space actually contains two spacebar spaces. The positioning was FAR lower than expected. Gotta believe there's something about the white space or calling it a .cfm file that their indexer doesn't like.

Richard Seltzer -- Steve -- I don't know about Infoseek. But AltaVista just looks at text, not space. Give it a try. 


Interwoven

Richard Seltzer -- A friend at work, Berthold Langer, just pointed out another approach to me -- www.interwoven.com They seem to use a database approach to create modular Web pages. Pages are created on the fly, but to the user they look like ordinary HTML pages. And if I understand this correctly, you could make a single change in one element and give all the pages at your site a new look and feel. I'm hoping that either Berthold or someone from Interwoven will join us today and explain this approach.

Kaye Vivian -- Richard, I took a look at Interwoven's web site yesterday, and I really liked the navigation of it. It's a very airy and open feeling, with the sub-categories of information readily identified. When I first went to the site, I was a little surprised at the minimalist first screen, and it took me a couple of clicks to realize the subtlety of how they were allowing me to navigate through. Very clever. :) I'm interested to know the nuts and bolts of how they made that happen! :)

Richard Seltzer -- Kaye -- I'm also interested in the nuts and bolts of the Interwoven approach. If they don't connect today, I'll try to get them next time.

Kaye Vivian -- I'm disappointed that the Interwoven person couldn't be here today. Richard, I hope you will try to get someone for the next chat. I'd really like to know more about how they do what they do. :) 


Directory-enabled Web applications

Richard Seltzer -- Another friend at work, Dave Cedrone, has been looking into directory-enabled Web applications. In particular, these are of interest for Internet telephony. You want to call someone on-line, but their PPP address may be dynamically assigned. So you fetch the name and current address from a directory (hopefully this is automatic).

Kaye Vivian -- Richard, what a neat idea! So many of the big services have dynamic addresses now...that would be a big help! 


Intranet applications?

Sudha Jamthe -- All: Talking about different applications, I am interested in knowing what first application did anyone use their intranet for? We are looking for ROI calculations to decide what others use their intranets for. Sorry, I don't mean to take the discussion off-path. If you have an intranet application in use that you can share with us, please email me at sudha@web-net.org -thanks

Kaye Vivian -- Su, I'm not sure if ROI is the right thing you are looking for, at least how you described it. Are you looking for a list of applications actually used on Intranets? If so I have quite a bit of information on that, and some references to the most-often-quoted ROI articles like the Netscape study. It's a really difficult number to come up with, although you can certainly demonstrate significant savings.


Business Models?

Richard Seltzer -- We seem to be talking a lot about products and not that much about business models. How are people using these capabilities -- database access -- to better serve customers? Anything unique and noteworthy? Pointers to interesting sites that operate this way?

Guido Stevens -- Business models - databases on the net are excellent tools to connect buyers and sellers of products. We use for clients in the housing market and heavy machinery markets. Those clients really want to change the way business is done in their market segments by using net technologies. They can gain a competitive advantage by having better information than their competitors, and letting their customers share that information.

Richard Seltzer -- Guido -- can you give us URLs for some of those clients, so we can see how they do it?

Guido Stevens -- URLs for our applications http://inter.netmakelaars.nl - house broking (in Dutch) http://www.occanet.com - machinery broking (English also)

Kaye Vivian -- Guido, I'm sorry, but this is a topic that I don't think I have enough experience with to talk in anything but generalities. :) I'm not sure I even know when I've encountered, for example, a page generated on the fly unless it's fairly obvious because they use my name or present me with a list of options tailored to some definitions I was asked to make.

Richard Seltzer -- I believe that there are two main pieces to a successful public Web site -- 1) factors that drive traffic (the right kind of traffic, the returning audience) to a site 2) factors that make the experience at the site useful, efficient, pleasant, etc.
I believe that database access fits into the second category. If you already have the audience you want, that's probably a good way to serve them. But if you are building an audience, it is important to have some duplicate form of the main content in your database available in plain HTML pages so they can be indexed by search engines, so your content can drive traffic to your site.


Wrapup

John -- Must leave, thank you all for the information. Have a good day.

Richard Seltzer -- All -- time is passing quickly. I believe that we've just scratched the surface of this topic. Please let me know if you'd like us to continue with it next week. If so, please send followup notes with pointers to interesting examples. And please spread to the word to others who might wish to join us.

Sudha Jamthe -- Richard: I try visiting sites others mention here during the chat. Today I turned adventurous and tried installing DBLive@web parallely while I am on the chat, overloaded my system and had to re-log :)) Missed a good part of the chat.
It will be nice if we continue next week.

Richard Seltzer -- All -- time is starting to run out. Remember, I'll post the edited transcript of this session probably tomorrow morning. Check http://www.samizdat.com/#chat

Richard Seltzer -- All -- before you leave, please post your email addresses and URLs for followup (don't depend on the chat software to have captured them). And please send me followup email at seltzer@samizdat.com for inclusion with the transcript. In particular, let me know about continuing this topic next week and suggestions for future topics.

Guido Stevens -- PS My email address is: gyst@nfg.nl

Kaye Vivian -- Guido, it's been nice to have you here. You really know a lot about the subject. I hope you'll come again next week.

Cherish -- tfl9438@montana.com

Steve 'Web Merlin' Harrison -- Steve Harrison ~ Web Merlin Marketing. merlin@bidness.com

Jay and Rondi -- Jay and Rondi Anderson rlanders@apexcorp.com Great chat; let's do it again next week.

Steve Liberace -- Steve Liberace, sal@tiac.net, yes: continue next week

Kaye Vivian -- Kaye Vivian kvivian@cloud9.net Thanks Richard. :)

Alan Majer -- My email address is : networks@vir.com No homepage at the moment.

Godfrey Buss -- godfrey@godfreybuss.com Interesting chat. Looking forwared to next week's continuation.

Kaye Vivian -- Richard, I would find it useful for someone to give a list of related products and some samples in a follow up message. I would like to know more, but I still don't really understand enough of the details and specifics to be able to contribute. I'll do my homework is someone will kindly point the way. :) 


Followup

Related article in Internet World Magazine

From: Richard Seltzer, Date: June 4, 1997

Thursday, June 5, we will continue with the topic "Web access to databases and database-driven Web applications.

It turns out that the July issue of Internet World Magazine (I just received a copy in the mail) has an article "Dealing Dynamic Data" which talks about many of the products which were mentioned last week.

Unfortunately, it is written from a techy perspective, with lots of alphabet soup and little or no explanation. What we really need is information about how people actually use this software, what are the business models, what are the benefits, what are the limitations? If you've ever put together an overview of that kind or if you can point to articles on the Web that do that, please send me email ASAP so I can add it to this transcript for all to share before the chat session.


On-line source of info regarding database gateway software

From: Sudha Jamthe <sudha@bgs.com> Date: Wed, 04 Jun 1997 14:46:58 -0400

I found this collection of Web databases at http://tips.internet.com/Database_gateways.html

Rgds,

Su

[Note: That's the on-line version of the background material for the Internet World article noted above. Internet World just changed it's domain name from iworld.com to internet.com]


ObjectStore

From: "Todd S. Moyer" <tsm@unx.dec.com> Date: Wed, 4 Jun 1997 14:49:32 -0400

Regarding databases on the net, I was at a presentation today by Object Design Inc (http://www.odi.com) that is relevant. They make an object-oriented database called ObjectStore, and are making a case for it being a natural fit for the web. They argue that since web data is either slightly or strongly object oriented it is much easier to access from an OO database.

They claim, convincingly, that ObjectStore access is easier and more natural for developers than SQL. Furthermore, they argue that performance is so much better at a web site using ObjectStore that significantly cheaper hardware can be used. (They refered to AltaVista as a site powered by heavy iron.)

Other interesting features include an HTML template script that is easier to use than CGI, and enables page content common to muliple pages to be maintained in one place. Also, they have a more sophisticated caching engine for web browsers that is bing bundled with MSIE, NEtscape and several Java development tools. It is worth visiting their site.

On the topic of topics for future chat sessions, I'd like to talk about the business model for web publishers ranging from USA Today to NBC to Yahoo to Pathfinder. In previous sessions it was suggested that banner adds don't bring in much revenue, but where are these companies making their money? Yahoo in particular seems to be immediately and highly profitable.

Cheers,

Todd Moyer


Coollist -- interesting business model

From: Ed Jaros <Ed@Jaros.com> Date: Fri, 30 May 1997 09:48:42 -0500

FYI - http://www.coollist.com Great net advertising idea.

Ed Jaros, Your Internet Strategist


Previous transcripts and schedule of upcoming chats -- www.samizdat.com/chat.html

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The full text of Richard Seltzer's books The Social Web, Take Charge of Your Web Site, Shop Online the Lazy Way, and The Way of the Web, plus more than a hundred related articles are available on CD ROM My Internet: a Personal View of Internet Business Opportunities.

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