Re: PPS - various things

peter Murray-rust (
Tue, 9 Jan 1996 00:33:51 +0000 (GMT)

Thanks John - I'm including the consultants mailing list in the reply.

On Mon, 8 Jan 1996, John Walshaw wrote:

> Dear Peter,
> Many thanks for posting your enthusiastic comments and advice on the
> discussion lists. Just a few points for now:
> Hyperglossary
> I was wondering if you or anyone else connected with the glossary had started
> writing new scripts (assuming that the old ones were never recovered, or that
> you decided they needed updating in any case). Ian Tickle will be writing
> some cgi-scripts for the course and has agreed to write them for the
> hyperglossary, so I just wanted to check that these indeed do not already
> exist.

After my trip to Finland I'm convinced that what we should be using is
Hyper-G. This is exactly the tool that we need for collaborative working
on things like the hyperglossary, rather than writing our own scripts.

Hyper-G has been developed by the University of Graz and is intended as a
collaborative server for WWW applications. It's seen my many as the next
server technology after HTTP and was written up in Novermeber's BYTE.

Hyper-G allows *either* 'anonymous' login so that anyone can create and
edit material *oR8 password protected groups. This is just what we
require for all sorts of things, inclusding the hyeprglossary.

Henry Rzepa and colleagues have got it running at IC in case you need
help. It's at:
(You will have to go down a link or two - - fairly obvious.

There are clients for the PC and UNIX and the server runs under UNIX.

> > Initially I think we need scripts for the following:
> -for a form to search the glossary for a given term and deliver the
> appropriate page, or a "not found" message

H-G will do all this.

> -to convert a form-submitted HTML file so that terms existing in the glossary
> are turned into appropriate hyperlinks, with necessary options available
> (e.g. only make the first mention of the term on the page become a link).

And this
> (Incidentally, I heard that the latest Netscape HTML extensions allow actual
> files to be submitted using forms, by specifying them by name rather than
> having to place their entire text in a text-box. This could be useful but
> obviously we'll have to be careful as not everyone will be using this

File upload is becoming more common in browsers and I expect that otehrs
will support it in the next few months. No rush at presnet.

> Netscape

and this.
> It will be desirable to introduce the glossary fairly early on in the course,
> but later on we'll need additional forms so that contributors can add new
> definitions. Unfortunately no-one has yet offered to act as a curator, but
> I'm hopeful that someone will volunteer from the ranks of the consultants

Yes . But let's get the technology working first. It is tough to ask
someone to curate it without stable tools :-)
> - or even students - during the course. >

I think we may well find that some of the students who are well qualified
in other subjects would be excited to do this. We could make a real
contribution over the period of a year...

> Any advice or comments
would be appreciated. >
> Student groups
> Jacky passed on some of your comments about sizes of groups. In practice
> the size of groups will be dictated by how many members of Birkbeck staff
> will actually be acting as functional tutors (one per group) so we're
> probably looking at about 5 groups of at least 10 people (plus attached
> advising-consultants). I was wondering what we should name the groups after
> - how about protein families- or any other suggestions? I thought it might
> be an idea to avoid the amino acid names (apart from the fact there wont
> be 20 groups of course), to avoid confusion with all the existing material
> on the Web produced by last year's groups.

I thinbk we'll have to play the groups by ear. My own inclination is not
to plann too much interactive work in BioMOO. It may be that some groups
gain more critical mass in Biommo than others.

> Just one other thing- I created a "PPS '96 office" in BioMOO, which is
> "above" the VSNS-PPS classroom- in that it has a downward exit to VSNS-PPS.
> Its up to you whether you add an exit from the VSNS-PPS room up to this- it
> would not necessarily be a bad thing if theres no exit to PPS '96 described
> from VSNS-PPS, as it decreases the chances of students "wandering in" if
> the PPS '96 coordinators are having a meeting in there ;) . Having said that,
> obviously other people will be able to see where we are; and I
> thought I might try and be logged in there quite a lot of the time, so that
> students can page me if they need urgent assistance (like Georg F. does).
> Although, this could end up with me being swamped by several students asking
> questions - we'll see how it goes.
My experience is that:
- really only use the MOO for pseudo IRC dialogues
- occasinally used to use the whiteboard
- made very little use of anythings else.

I think that (unless there is a development in MOO technology) I'd not
ecxpect students to do more than 'talk'. Also, the number of people that
can have a useful discussion is quite small unless there is some
structure to the meeting. Even then it's tough going.


> Cheers,
> John W.

Peter Murray-Rust, Glaxo Research & Dev. (; (BioMOO: PeterMR)
Birkbeck College,, CBMT/Daresbury,