Hypertext and Hypermedia refer to documents which can be displayed and read on a computer screen by an application known as a Web Browser. The reader (human user) is not restricted to a sequential reading, but can jump to any page in any document by clicking on a Link. Each page can have links to many other pages, hence the use of the word "Web". The referenced pages can be on any server anywhere in the world, hence the use of the term "World Wide Web". The content of the pages may contain text, images, sounds, movies, and interactive Java programs. A page is termed a "Resource".
Historically, the WWW has supported mono-lingual pages with just a passive text and image display. This is now changing due to the emergence of new standards. The important new standards are:-
Protocol HTTP/1.1. This HyperText Teleprocessing Protocol determines how the Web Browsers talk and negotiate with the Web Servers. The protocol specifies a means for the Browser to indicate to the Server which human language the user would prefer to see displayed when accessing a given resource. This means that each user will be presented with the given page in his native (or preferred) language automatically. He will not have to press a button that says "Spanish" (although this may still be provided to be compatible with older browsers.)
Markup Language HTML 3. This HyperText Markup Language provides the syntax for describing how a page looks and behaves. This is the language used by the authors of the pages. It permits logical structuring of the page content and a certain amount of stylistic control but not as much control as typesetting and DTP packages usually provide. This is because the display capability of every Browser is not known to the authors. The ascii character set (ISO8859/1) provides most latin alphabets and there are special character enties for non-ascii symbols. Japanese and other asian languages are handled by switching to another character set. Such pages are unreadable in a typical western browser. The browser must be configured to have the required character sets installed.
Computer language Java. This object oriented computer programming language has been designed for use on the Internet and World Wide Web and is a de-facto standard. It uses the Unicode character set which has 65535 symbols and so can accommodate both european and asian characters. The programs written in Java are "platform independent" and will run on most types of computer including Intel PC, Macintosh and Unix workstations. This programming language provides "Interactive Content" in that the page author can create presentations that respond to the users input and are customised to that individual users needs. This might perhaps be a graph or spreadsheet view of that particular individuals investment portfolio, bank account, pension projection or insurance cover. An important feature of the use of Java is that the applications need not be pre-installed on the users machine and the display complexity is not limited by the browser or by the HTML standards. A Java application could display Chinese text even inside a western browser!. Another capability offered by Java is that of total security and privacy by means of encryption. Such security can be independent of the security of the internet or the servers on it, since both the keys and the unencrypted data need never be transported or stored anywhere other than the users own client machine.
Most of this technology is very new. Cycom uniquely has the expertise in the human languages, Internet programming languages and the Internet itself. If it can be done, we can do it.