The documents were placed in a directory on the server and indexed. Running the AppleSearch.ACGI (asynchronous common gateway interface) program from a Netscape 1.1 browser, I found that text retrieval was, for the most part, fast and accurate. Retrieved documents were converted into HTML format and displayed on screen by the application. Complex searches could be built using a respectable array of search commands.
The search engine can also be accessed using the AppleSearch Client software, which can run under Windows as well as the MacOS. It is bundled with the server and freely distributable if you own the server software. Client software adds additional functionality, including the ability to save search criteria, called "reporters," for later use; scheduling searches for off-hours; and the ability to add WAIS-type servers to the available searchable resources.
The AppleSearch Client also has the capability of retrieving the original source document, regardless of its format, and saving this to a local hard drive. I was successful in searching an indexed text version of a PageMaker document for analysis, and then was able to retrieve the original document, complete with graphics, which opened as expected with the PageMaker program.
Some improvements could be made to the translators for certain kinds of documents. The AppleSearch.ACGI had difficulty distinguishing between soft and hard returns in some documents, resulting in some improperly wrapped documents when viewed as HTML. The program does have an auto-wrap option which can be applied to these text documents, and formats paragraphs very well. The drawback is the loss of formatting in tables or columns when this feature is applied. However, the document, when saved to a local disk for retrieval by a word processor, did retain the original tabs and hard returns which did not translate well into HTML.
The set of translators I worked with did not include Microsoft Word 6.0, or PageMaker 5.0. This is to be remedied in the near future, according to Apple.
The ability to retrieve the original source document is not yet a part of the Web interface which I tested, but including it should not present a large technical problem.
The initial ACGI we used did not support WAIS servers, which the client software did. However, I downloaded a newer version from Apple's Web site which included the WAIS server capability. With this new ACGI installed, I could define both internal as well as a selection of WAIS servers I chose as document sources. It also had the ability to highlight the matched search words.
The server's ability to index and retrieve PageMaker documents was a major bonus. The AppleSearch translators first read threaded text, keeping the stories intact regardless of the placement of columns, and then jumped back to the first column, compiling text in successive columns regardless of the existence of independent text blocks and headings. In a well-conceived publication, the prospect of returning a sensible text version, in spite of columns and graphics, was very good.
Finally, I discovered that there were many document types not listed in the AppleSearch online manual that also were searchable and which returned a respectable text document.
DEMONSTRATION FOR THE CLIENT
After throwing the kitchen sink at AppleSearch to determine where it would break, I contacted GA and requested some original source documents. These arrived in Microsoft Word format, and I placed them in the document folder for indexing. The procurement staff at GA was then invited to review how the software functioned.
The procurement documents relied heavily on the use of tables and tabs in the formats, so there were some inconsistencies in auto-wrapped documents. This problem was considered very minor, however, for two reasons: 1) Many of the document requests were for