March 24, 1997 10:00 AM ET
Researchers seek an edge on Web
By Michael Moeller

  Internet vendors will join the pioneers of Internet development--academic researchers--next month at the Sixth International World Wide Web Conference to plot the future of Internet collaboration.

Industry leaders such as IBM and Lotus Development Corp. are ready to turn some of the cutting-edge developments into products, but many emerging technologies are just now hatching at university laboratories.

Highlighting the WWW6 show is Lotus' new NSTP (Notification Service Transfer Protocol), a proposed standard for near-real-time collaboration planned for the next version of Domino.

The Israeli research division of IBM, Lotus' parent company, will introduce a Java technology called WebCutter, a Web site visualization tool. WebCutter is in beta testing and will be integrated into the Lotus Domino.Applications product line.

Technologies introduced by academics and researchers will be scrutinized by ISVs for potential licensing or purchase or for confirmation that a cutting-edge development is in tune with the rest of the Internet community.

Academic research has a strong focus on Java development, as does the commercial development arena. Researchers at the University of Erlangen-Nurnberg, in Germany, will demonstrate Promondia, a server that uses Java to enable distributed group communications and collaborations over the Internet, according to officials.

Lotus is taking a different approach with NSTP, a protocol that links Internet servers to enable synchronous communications, such as a chat session or whiteboarding, and creates a platform for building collaborative Web applications.

Lotus is working to turn NSTP into a product, code-named PlaceHolder, according to sources close to Lotus, of Cambridge, Mass., which plans to integrate PlaceHolder into the next version of Domino.

While Lotus executives will present the NSTP technology at the WWW6 conference, sources said the company is planing to submit NSTP to the Internet Engineering Task Force later this spring or summer. Currently, there is no standard for sharing stateless sessions.

"The idea of collaboration in real time on the Internet is a promising technology and idea," said a developer at a Midwest manufacturer who requested anonymity. "That is the beauty of the Internet; everything is standards-based, so I am not required to look at a single-vendor solution."

Another technology that will attract interest at the show is Diegestor, built by researchers at FX Palo Alto Laboratory, in Palo Alto, Calif. Diegestor is an application that translates Web pages into formats that can be rendered on a personal digital assistant or smart phones.

Additional reporting by Paula Rooney

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