The Internet continues to expand dramatically. Wide-area multimedia information systems starting with Gopher achieved a breakthrough and a first climax with WWW, the World Wide Web. Developed by pioneers at CERN, WWW has changed the Internet to the extent that "the Web" has become almost synonymous with the modern use of the Internet. However, the tremendous success of WWW is also creating problems. WWW was never designed to handle such large applications as numerous organizations are starting to use it for. An evolutionary step, to take us from "first-generation" Web systems to more poerful "second-generation" systems, is necessary and is now in the making. This is what this book is all about: describing the next evolutionary step beyond WWW and how you can profit from it.
This book is for everyone who intends to become a mayor player on the internet, or "the Web" as we will keep calling it. Whether you provide a server to clients, offer services worldwide, offer services to a particular organization, or even if you are just a serious user who wants to be free of restrictions of earlier Web tools this book will probably help you. This book is also for hose who feel that their current system is reaching the limits of manageability, yet want to preserve their investment by seamlessly being able to use their current database with increased functionality and better management. Finally, this book is for all those who want to develop software based on Hyper-G. The Hyper-G Consortium (HGC) supports such activities (see Appendix C for details).
This book is for practitioners; but it is also for those who want to teach practitioners: be it in seminars, schools or universities. It is a good companion to the more theoretical and technical hypermedia books required for the in-depth study of all issues concerning multimedia and hupermedia systems. It concentrates on what you can do now, and how you do it.
Depending on whether you read this book as a serious service provider, user or teacher, you will take slightly different paths through this book. After reading it, you will have a clear understanding of the power of second-generation hymermedia systems; you will know why they are necessary and why they will replace current systems wherever substantial amounts of data are envolved; you will have leart the important features of the first second-generation hypermedia system Hyper-G and you will be able to set it up and run it with the software that comes with this book. You will also have understood enough of the general issues to appreciate the design decisions of Hyper-G, to see it as a logical extension of both Gopher and WWW that preserves full interoperability with those systems. Finally, you will probably have learnt about possible applications that you have never dreamt before. We also hope that after having read this book you will be a Hyper-G fan and you will join us in the exciting effort of using second-generation hypermedia systems to their full potential.
Graz, Austria, January 1996