Web searching for database info

Woody Woods woody.woods at umb.edu
Sun Dec 30 17:37:03 EST 2001

I forwarded Ron Gatrelle's and Chris Durden's exchange about the difficulties
of using web search engines to find information embedded in databases to my
thesis advisor. He has had considerable experience in this area. His response follows:

Recent postings by Ron Gatrelle and Chris Durden identify two problems people
face when using the internet.  Ron notes that he has had trouble negotiating the
the TIARA Biodiversity web site  http://www.csdl.tamu.edu/tiara/. The software
world is moving towards a solution to this problem. It is based on a technology
called XML and you can read about it at center for new technologies called W3C
http://www.w3.org/. This approach allows one to separate views of the data from
the underlying structure of the data. This means that it is possible to customize
a view of data for a particular user groups or even individuals. If you can use
IE5 than you can get a feel for what is coming by looking at
http://www.cs.umb.edu/efg/xml1/ram/xmldemos.html. Try the 3 demos.

Major business interests are behind the switch from HTML to XML. This
transformation is well underway. You can read about the history by looking at the
W3C site.

Chris Durden also brings up an interesting issue about finding information, namely
that search engines are unable to find data inside internet database sites
because the engines do not know how to "crawl" inside of databases or ask the
right queries to "crawl" inside of databases.

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