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Practical Internet Groupware Paperback – October 11, 1999

4.1 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Drawing on the wealth of experience he accumulated developing internal and external collaboration solutions for BYTE magazine, author Jon Udell provides a thorough guide to building networked tools for collaboration. Unlike many books that are tied to a given language or protocol, Practical Internet Groupware delivers useful code examples in several languages, including Perl (primary language), server-side Java, and XML. Protocols discussed include NNTP, IMAP, HTTP, POP3, and SMTP.

The first section covers general use and policies as they relate to groupware. Administrators and end users will benefit from the references to NNTP messages in Collabra and Outlook, scoped discussion groups, and packaging messages and discussion threads. Udell also includes many tips and usability pointers. When discussing how to build, index, and navigate a document database, he delineates ways to create rich navigation that incorporate topic-sensitive and sequential navigation using modular Perl examples.

Many of the solutions that are presented address custom software that implements open standards. One of the most powerful solutions discusses a lightweight, Perl-based local HTTP server, called dhttp. Creating, using, extending, and integrating this server are capably covered by the author, and it is convincingly presented as a flexible means of distributing information.

As a mark of distinction, the book approaches problems from multiple angles. With security as an example, the author discusses the implementation of encryption for dhttp and notes the legal issues surrounding the use of SSLeay. In essence, his example becomes an alternative way to implement a secure channel using the Blowfish encryption algorithm.

The book contains quite a bit of useful code, but like most (perhaps all) O'Reilly books, it does not include a companion CD-ROM. Appendix A discusses where to get the code and modules (primarily on the author's Web site), but receiving this high-quality source code on a well-organized CD-ROM would increase the value of the book.

For those interested in creating a document database and integrating it with HTTP and NNTP, this book provides the background, code, integration, and deployment information you will need. --John Keogh

Topics covered: Using groupware, policy, culture, and implementation; creating a collection of documents that can be used as a database (docbase); integrating docbases with a variety of servers, including NNTP and HTTP; security, authentication, and encryption; integration; creating a lightweight HTTP server; deploying INN, Microsoft NNTP service, and Netscape Collabra Server; indexing, navigating, and searching; IMAP, POP3, and SMTP. The source code is primarily in Perl, with some server-side Java and C++. XML and HTML are used for many examples, and using XML and XSL is also discussed. Appendices include information on where to get the code and modules that are presented in the book and Internet RFCs.

About the Author

Odell was BYTE Magazine's executive editor for new media, the architect of the original www.byte.com.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 521 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (October 11, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565925378
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565925373
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,054,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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It's amazing how many capabilities there are in MS and Netscape suites (browser + mail reader + news reader) and how they work together. Using SMTP, HTTP and NNTP as the foundation, Udell gives us a vision for the future of online collaboration (even though WebDAV only get passing mention). If you are building an intranet, this is the second book you should read after Philip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing. To build an intranet in the year 2000 without NNTP capability should be a crime.
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Format: Paperback
In his book "Practical Internet Groupware", former BYTE magazine editor Jon Udell layout an architecture that links human minds into collaborative relationships. Base on his actual experience in building BYTE's intranet as well as the magazine's public online services, he gave his insight on the powerful use of Internet.

Among the many IT books I have read, this book stand out as sublime, even avant-garde. Got a question? Search the Internet, send a follow up email to folks you have never met. That's something many of us have probably done without much thinking. Yet Jon would step back and reflect on the dynamic that had happened. An ad-hoc workgroup was formed between him and several person on one particular task. The collaboration was unbounded by time, geography or corporate affiliation. He strived to grasp the subtle interactions and to facilitate this flow of information on the Internet.

People are lazy and do not like to learn or adapt to complex rules impose by computer systems. On the other hand simple rules and clever UI tweak can often make interactions spontaneous and effective. Use an appropriate subject for a message is one good example. The author discussed one of the oldest groupware on the Internet, the Usenet newsgroups. He termed it conferencing and explained why it is a better channel for some kind of interactions compare to email. Many of us who get caught in lengthy email debate would be delighted to know there are more effective way to conduct this kind of discussion. Indeed a seamless integration of web, email, newsgroup and a searchable document database are the components that make a formidable groupware application.

Unlike most IT books, he did not focus on any single platform, computer language or a technology.
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Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book. When I first encountered it I wasn't really impressed by the title since I doubted someone could say anything new or interesting about Usenet. Sometime later, though, I read Tim O'Reilly's review in his "Ask Tim" column. Tim recommended it so highly that I picked it up the next time I hit the bookstore. I'm very glad I did because Jon Udell has done a great job of looking at modern groupware concepts and applications, while also giving intelligent treatment to the historical roots of groupware in systems like Usenet.
This isn't a book about Usenet, or Lotus Notes, or any specific groupware product. It is about building and maintining modern groupware systems, and it examines this topic from a variety of conceptual and practical angles. This book provides a lot of ideas--good ones. Many of the ideas are so wonderful because Jon always keeps an eye on the future, and provides advice toward ensuring that groupware systems use the best of current technology (e.g., XML) but still remain flexible for future developments. If you manage discussion forums of any kind, or are considering doing so, I recommend that you pick this book up.
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Format: Paperback
Jon's book is not typical. It does not provide the same old information about HTTP or HTML or NNTP. It provides a look at what he has learned about writing Internet applications for his office. The software is general enough to be applied to other kinds of offices (his is publishing). The principles and insights are general enough to lead to brand new kinds of Internet applications.
The book does get into enough of the details of NNTP, HTTP, HTML, XML, Perl, Java, etc. to serve as examples of using those technologies, but you'll also need the manuals to go out on your own.
A very *practical* book!
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