[This information was previously posted to <alt.hypertext> and to
<comp.sys.next>, but popular request prompts this cross-posting.]
The WorldWideWeb project is a practical project to provide wide-area hypertext
and index-based information access. The sources are available with no warranty
of any kind, though copyright is held by CERN and commercial organizations
should check for terms. A general summary of the project follows.
WorldWideWeb - Executive Summary
The WWW project merges the techniques of information retrieval and
hypertext to make an easy but powerful global information system.
The project started with the philosophy that much academic information
should be freely available to anyone. It aims to allow information
sharing within internationally dispersed teams, and the dissemination of
information by support groups.
The WWW world consists of documents, and links. Indexes are special
documents which, rather than being read, may be searched. The result
of such a search is another ("virtual") document containing links to
the documents found. A simple protocol ("HTTP") is used to allow a
browser program to request a keyword search by a remote information
The web contains documents in many formats. Those documents which
are hypertext, (real or virtual) contain links to other documents,
or places within documents. All documents, whether real, virtual or
indexes, look similar to the reader and are contained within the same
To follow a link, a reader clicks with a mouse (or types in a number
if he or she has no mouse). To search and index, a reader gives keywords
(or other search criteria). These are the only operations necessary to
access the entire world of data.
Information provider view
The WWW browsers can access many existing data systems via existing
protocols (FTP, NNTP) or via HTTP and a gateway. In this way, the
critical mass of data is quickly exceeded, and the increasing use of
the system by readers and information suppliers encourage each other.
Making a web is as simple as writing a few SGML files which point to
your existing data. Making it public involves running the FTP or HTTP
daemon, and making at least one link into your web from another.
In fact, any file available by anonymous FTP can be immediately linked
into a web. The very small start-up effort is designed to allow small
contributions. At the other end of the scale, large information
providers may provide an HTTP server with full text or keyword indexing.
The WWW model gets over the frustrating incompatibilities of data format
between suppliers and reader by allowing negotiation of format between
a smart browser and a smart server. This should provide a basis for
extension into multimedia, and allow those who share application
standards to make full use of them across the web. (Format
negotiation is not included in the current programs).
This summary does not describe the many exciting possibilities opened
up by the WWW project, such as efficient document caching. the
reduction of redundant out-of-date copies, and the use of knowledge
daemons. There is more information in the online project documentation,
including some background on hypertext and many technical notes on
the HTML format, for example.
A prototype simple portable line mode browser is currently available
in source form from node info.cern.ch. [currently 126.96.36.199] as
Also available is a prototype hypertext browser/editor for the NeXT
using the NeXTStep graphical user interface,
To make your own data available, an anonymous FTP server is sufficient.
Alternatively, a skeleton HTTP server program is available, which serves
files but can be massaged to convert your data into hypertext. The file is
Check whether later versions of these files are available, and if so take
Documentation is readable using www. Plain text of the installation
instructions is included in the tar file. Basic documentation is
included, but this has links to our server for deeper details.
We are of course interested to hear from anyone who publishes data,
or who is interested in writing further browsers or servers, or who
has bug reports or suggestions.
Tim Berners-Lee Tel: +41(22)767 3755
WorldWideWeb project Fax: +41(22)767 7155
C.E.R.N. email: t...@cernvax.cern.ch
1211 Geneva 23