WAIS over Z39.50-1988
RFC 1625

Document Type RFC - Informational (June 1994; No errata)
Authors Francois Schiettecatte , Harry Morris , Brewster Kahle  , Jim Fullton  , Kevin Gamiel  , Jonathan Goldman  , John Kunze  , Margaret St. Pierre 
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                                      M. St. Pierre
Request for Comments: 1625                                    WAIS, Inc.
Category: Informational                                       J. Fullton
                                                               K. Gamiel
                                                              J. Goldman
                                                 Thinking Machines Corp.
                                                                B. Kahle
                                                              WAIS, Inc.
                                                                J. Kunze
                                                             UC Berkeley
                                                               H. Morris
                                                              WAIS, Inc.
                                                        F. Schiettecatte
                                                           FS Consulting
                                                               June 1994

                         WAIS over Z39.50-1988

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  This memo
   does not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of
   this memo is unlimited.

1. Introduction

   The network publishing system, Wide Area Information Servers (WAIS),
   is designed to help users find information over a computer network.
   The principles guiding WAIS development are:

         1. A wide-area networked-based information system for searching,
            browsing, and publishing.
         2. Based on standards.
         3. Easy to use.
         4. Flexible and growth oriented.

   From this basis, a large group of developers, publishers, standards
   bodies, libraries, government agencies, schools, and users have been
   helping further the WAIS system.

   The WAIS software architecture has four main components: the client,
   the server, the database, and the protocol.  The WAIS client is a
   user-interface program that sends requests for information to local
   or remote servers.  Clients are available for most popular desktop
   environments.  The WAIS server is a program that services client

IIIR Working Group                                              [Page 1]
RFC 1625                 WAIS over Z39.50-1988                 June 1994

   requests, and is available on a variety of UNIX platforms.  The
   server generally runs on a machine containing one or more information
   sources, or WAIS databases.  The protocol, Z39.50-1988, is used to
   connect WAIS clients and servers and is based on the 1988 Version of
   the NISO Z39.50 Information Retrieval Service and Protocol Standard.
   The goal of the WAIS network publishing system is to create an open
   architecture of information clients and servers by using a standard
   computer-to-computer protocol that enables clients to communicate
   with servers.

   WAIS development began in October 1989 with the first Internet
   release occurring in April 1991.  From the beginning, WAIS committed
   to use the Z39.50-1988 standard as the information retrieval protocol
   between WAIS clients and servers.  The implementation is still in use
   today by existing WAIS clients and servers resulting in over 50,000
   users of Z39.50-1988 on the Internet.

2. Purpose

   The purpose of this memo is to initiate a discussion for a migration
   path of the WAIS technology from Z39.50-1988 Information Retrieval
   Service Definitions and Protocol Specification for Library
   Applications [1] to Z39.50-1992 [2] and then to Z39.50-1994 [3].  The
   purpose of this memo is not to provide a detailed implementation
   specification, but rather to describe the high-level design goals and
   functional assumptions made in the WAIS implementation of Z39.50-
   1988.  WAIS use of Z39.50-1992 and Z39.50-1994 standards will be the
   subject of future RFCs.

3. Historical Design Goals of WAIS

   As an aid to understanding the original WAIS implementation and its
   use of Z39.50-1988, the historical design goals of WAIS are presented
   in this section.  Included with each goal is a brief description of
   the assumptions used to meet these design goals.

         1. Provide users access to bibliographic and non-bibliographic
            information, including full-text and images.

   Because Z39.50-1988 grew out of the bibliographic community,
   additional assumptions with the protocol were required to serve non-
   bibliographic information.  They were also necessary to serve
   documents existing in multiple formats (e.g., rtf, postscript, gif,

         2. Keep the client/server interface simple and independent of
            changes in the functionality of the server.
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