World Wide Web Journal

The range of topics covered is immense.
  • ISBN: 1-56592-211-5

  • Publisher: O'Reilly & Associates

  • US$24.95 per issue, US$75.00 per year

  • Reviewer: Danny Yee

Issue 1 of the World Wide Web Journal contained fifty-nine papers, fifty-seven from the Fourth International World Wide Web Conference (held in Boston in December 1995) and two from regional conferences. The range of topics covered is immense. To list just a few (in no particular order): why the GIF and JPEG formats aren't good enough for really high quality graphics; low-level security in Java; the results from the 3rd WWW Survey; an analysis of Metacrawler use; caching systems; a filtering system to provide restricted access to the Web; a PGP/CCI system for Web security; the Millicent system for financial transactions involving small sums; smart tokens; and better support for real-time video and audio. There are also papers on the use of the Web in education, on cooperative authoring tools, on Web interfaces to database and software systems, and a cornucopia of other things.

Issue 2 was a disappointment. It consisted solely of standards documents: Requests For Comment (RFCs) numbers 1630 (URIs), 1808 (Relative URLs), 1736 (IRL recommendations), 1866 (HTML 2.0), 1867 (Form-Based Upload), and unallocated (HTML Tables); Internet drafts on HTTP 1.0, PEP HTTP/1.1, and HTML Internationalization; and W3C drafts on PNG and Cascading Style Sheets. Since all of these documents are freely and easily available on-line and several have already been superseded, this is really of limited value. (Nicely formatted bound versions of standards documents are useful, but only for the standards that have some sort of permanence.)

Though shorter, issues 3 and 4 strike a better balance between background material, standards and technical papers. As background material, issue three contains an interview with Tim Berners-Lee and descriptions of other World Wide Web Consortium staff. The technical papers are mostly about Web demographics and “geography”: the Nielsen/CommerceNet, GVU, and White House surveys; systems for statistical analysis of traffic; visualisation of Web connectivity and traffic; and the implementation of national Web cache systems in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Issue 4 is mostly devoted to HTTP: it contains technical specifications for and informal descriptions of HTTP 1.1, as well as papers on state management (cookies), digest authentication, and future directions for HTTP. There are also papers on PICS, PNG, distributed objects, and distributed authoring.

Though few assume much technical background, the papers in World Wide Web Journal are mostly technical in focus: they are not for everyone who runs a Web server or authors HTML. However, for those concerned with the future of Web technology—because they are directly involved in protocol or system development, because they need to prepare for future applications or out of simple curiosity—the journal is a good way of keeping up with the most important developments. As a quarterly journal, it fills a niche between books and information sources on the Web itself.

World Wide Web Journal can be sampled on the Web at http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/Journal/.

Danny Yee receives a complimentary subscription to World Wide Web Journal but has no stake—financial or otherwise—in its success. He can be reached at danny@cs.su.oz.au.

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