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Resource Guide on Distributed Media:
Local / CD-ROM / Online / Web
This survey/guide relates to all aspects of integrating local and online information
access. Such hybrid combinations of online and offline resources complement the inherent
limitations of single-mode solutions to provide maximum power and economy, and are gaining
wide attention. Examples typically exploit online/offline modes of communication to
achieve efficiency, economy, convenience, and portability, and often rely on offline,
distributable storage media (such as CD-ROM and diskette) to complement online access,
such as in CD/online hybrids.
The guide is offered as an industry service by Teleshuttle
Corporation, the first independent provider of enabling technology for
local/online/offline solutions. Teleshuttle no longer offers software or operations
services of its own--now Teleshuttle offers consulting services on all aspects
of distributed media, connective media, and e-business.
Links to this area are invited. Suggestions for additional resources which should be
listed here, or for clarifications/corrections to our commentary are welcome and may be
sent to email@example.com. Our objective is
not to be exhaustive, but to include references which are stimulating or noteworthy (with
a moderate level of editorializing).
Note (8/28/98): This guide currently represents significant
developments through most of 1996. Resources have not be available to keep this
current due to other business commitments (and it is known that some links are no longer
active). Those who would like to encourage further updates are invited to email.
Part 1: General Information - Technology,
Concepts, and Business Issues
Part 2: Product/Vendor Information
- A broad perspective on the concept of distributed local, online, networked media and its
long-term role is given in All power to the Web,
CD-ROM is dead -- or is it?, a short white paper by Richard R. Reisman (New York New
Media Association News, August 1996).
- The first broad analysis of CD-ROM/Online Hybrids is the
March, 1995 article in CD-ROM Professional Magazine by Richard R. Reisman. Principles and
issues are explained in some detail.
- Some excellent survey articles, which primarily cover what we consider first generation
- The CD/ONLINE
Enablers: Vendors and Services Taking the Hybrid Lead, by Stephen Nathans, in CD-ROM
Professional, March 1996.
- Going Hybrid: The Online/CD-ROM Connection, by Domenic Stansberry, in New Media
Magazine, June, 1995. A related item is Inside the Hybrid Link. (no longer online)
- Dial-A-Disk, by Kandy Arnold, in Multimedia Producer, June, 1995. (no longer
- A partial step toward CD/Web combinations is the idea of publishing CDs using HTML and a
Web browser in local mode -- all content is on the CD, and no network connection is used.
This exploits the standard Web content format and user interface to facilitate multi-mode
(CD and online) publishing, without getting into either the costs or the benefits of full
integration. Some early work on such strategies was reported in a session at SIGCAT '95 (unfortunately the transcript is
of very poor quality).
- CD-ROM and Web
Browsers: HTML as the Lingua Franca (by Guenette and Gustavson, CD-ROM Professional,
August 1996), provides an in-depth survey of CD-ROMs based on HTML, including both
standalones and emerging CD/Web hybrids.
'Net: CD-ROMs & the Web working in tandem, by Rosebush and Watt (Netscapeworld,
August 1996) provides additional insight into CD/Web hybrids, especially browser
- A key component of more advanced CD/Web combinations is the hybrid searching capability
supported by some of the major search engine providers,
such as PLS and Verity.
- Offline use of information obtained online is another key aspect of distributed media.
This idea is gaining significant attention as the limits of pure online solutions are
becoming more apparent. Emergent activity in this area is described in The Internet Turns On
To Offline and Freebies
May Spark Online Shift in Inter@ctive Week (January 15, 1996), and Electronic Publishing's
Missing Link? in Inter@ctive Week (March 25, 1996). Teleshuttle's WebShuttle service is an example of such an online/offline mode,
and other online/offline products and services are listed below. Most of these approaches
do not yet provide effective integration of searching into their offline mode.
- The Next Generation in CD Web Hybrids, outlines
Teleshuttle's view of the powerful new second-generation in CD/Web hybrids that can now be
based on emerging, mainstream, off-the-shelf tools for 1) CD caching, 2) hybrid searching,
and 3) offline access. (published in Mass High Tech, September 2, 1996, based on a January
1996 white paper.) The debut of WebCD from MarketScape is
a notable partial step toward such integration.
- Intel launched a high-profile effort (direct from Andrew Grove) to promote hybrid /
distributed media approaches at its Internet Media
Symposium (July 24, 1996, Burlingame, CA). This included a white paper on Advanced Multimedia and PC
Communications Roadmaps for Hybrid Application Development, which covers motivations
and technical approaches, and featured a Technology Showcase of products
from various software and content companies. Intel concludes as we did that
"bandwidth for most consumers is evolving at a slower rate than PC performance.
'hybrid applications' will enable consumers to take full advantage
Other General Resources
- CD-ROM Professional
magazine is the journal of record for the field, and now has a Web site with many useful
resources (selected older materials may be found at a gopher site).
- General CD-ROM Background:
A wealth of materials can be found in a resource directory provided by The CD Information Center, and another at the CD-ROM Information Web Site. Another valuable
resource on general CD-ROM technology and products is The Special Interest Group on CD-ROM
Applications & Technology (SIGCAT), "a
network of people who share a vision that CD-ROM will profoundly change the way in which
they deal with information" (which is particularly strong on work in the government
- The special area of CD Plus / Enhanced CDs
/ CD-ROM/XA for music discs (which include CD-ROM data in addition to standard
CD-audio) is addressed in a resource guide by Malcom Humes.
- We naturally recommend our own Teleshuttle Corporation
site. A range of tools and packaged solutions are described, with product examples,
technical background, and working demos available for download.
- An excellent white paper on Creating CD-ROM
Applications with Spyglass Mosaic is available from Spyglass, the licensor of Mosiac,
a key player in Web technology. This paper outlines some of the issues of distributed
media in the Web environment (as well as local CD browsing), and the special software
support for CD/Web hybrids being provided in Mosaic.
- A very clever approach to integrating the Web with standard music CDs was taken in
product (July 1995). CDLink enables HTML pages to control the play of standard Red Book
audio tracks--high-res digital music pre-positioned at your desktop (with all rights fully
licensed). This is analogous to the often discussed, but yet to be applied concept of
using CD based multimedia elements to support dynamic Web pages--in this case the
multimedia elements are Red Book CD audio tracks, instead of Yellow Book CD-ROM data.
CDLink adds an HTML link type (which invokes a special helper application driven by a
small command file) to control the audio play. A variety of annotations, reviews, and
discographies can be found at the Voyager
CDLink site, and an interesting concept
discussion is provided by artist/developer Malcolm Humes.
A number of search engine vendors have provided for use of their tools for combined CD
and online searches. Some provide standard support for integrated local and online
searches. Others offer special tools or custom solutions. Most of these solutions are
based on live online searching, which requires network access for the duration of the
search session (which typically involves searching, browsing, search refinement, and
further browsing), and thus are not yet integrated with online/offline modes of Internet
- The first announcement of a standard, integrated facility for local/Web searching was by
Personal Library Software (PLS), in a December 1994 press release for PLWeb. PLS describes "distributed
searching," as a generalized facility that can spawn searches on a CD and an
arbitrary number of PLWeb-based servers, to perform parallel searches of potentially
massive collections and then combine the results into a single hit list. Further
information is provided in their announcement of PLWeb-CD (3/5/96).
- A similar integrated CD/Web solution was announced in a July 1995 press release by Verity. Their Topic WebAgents Publishers
Toolkit / Topic CD Publisher
includes HTML and Acrobat support, and allows consistent support of agent queries that can
filter dynamic information sources such as newswires. Availability of Release 1.2 of TopicCD-Web Publisher was
- DataWare offers a variety of CD and online tools, and has produced some non-Internet
CD/online hybrids on a custom basis. A CD/online solution to deliver service provider
technical documentation for Toshiba America is
cited in an August 1995 press release.
- Folio Corporation has taken a different approach to the Web, by offering its Folio Infobase Web Server, which
mimics its popular VIEWS search interface features in the Web/HTML environment, allowing
its proprietary infobase format, which is widely used on CDs and LANs to be published on
the Web as well.
An alternative approach is the online/offline or intermittent connect approach. A
typical strategy is to go online to retrieve updated contents or an update index, then
disconnect and do unlimited searching and browsing offline. This is useful for users who
lack online subscriptions, or for mobile users, and tends to be more economical.
- Teleshuttle's Folio VIEWS Plug-in embeds this form of
communications into the VIEWS user interface. The Plug-in fetches online updates, in the
form of VIEWS "shadow files" onto the hard disk, where they can then be searched
offline by VIEWS, in seamless combination with the original CD data, with no further
As Internet tools evolve, facilities for integration of local and network content, and
for integration of Internet function into distributed applications are becoming key areas
of competitive development. This area is obviously very dynamic.
- Sun's Java has attracted the most attention,
catalyzed the vision, and staked out one approach to advanced function. Java is a
network-centric beast, but it can also be applied in local and online/offline contexts
(such as WebShuttle), as well.
- Microsoft has counterattacked with a
vengeance, and is moving aggressively to Internet-enable its entire world. An interesting
position paper with some parallels to our Distributed Media white paper is The
Internet-Just Another Name for Client/Server Computing.
- Netscape provides a variety of levels of support
Spyglass's SDI DDE version). The Fall 1995 data sheet for Navigator 2.0 cited "CD-ROM
caching: allows quick, seamless access to CD-ROM-based media." This became real when
the N3.0 beta shipped in Spring 1996 with LiveCache,
which "lets programmers create a customized cache that can reside on a CD-ROM or a
local file system. Content developers can now more easily take advantage of video, audio,
or other kinds of content that may be cumbersome to download over a network. Using
LiveCache, a user can install a CD-ROM loaded with Web content, and then visit a related
Web site for updates or interactive pages without being hampered by slow network
- Spyglass has had a strategy of providing core enabling technology rather than
end-products, working with partners who build on its browser technology, and has offered a
Interface. This was used to address CD-ROM integration as described in Creating CD-ROM
Applications with Spyglass Mosaic. This component strategy was extended with the April
15, 1995 announcement of the Spyglass Web Technology Kit,
"which breaks out its client technology into components for easier integration of
World-Wide Web technologies to Web-enable applications, services or devices."
- Next's WebObjects is another key component
technology for embedding Internet function into distributed applications, drawing on
Next's highly respected object technology.
- The Sax Webster OLE
Contol from Home Page Software is another Web component technology, with low cost
unlimited run-time licensing.
- Offline browsers (and search engines) support distribution of HTML content on CDs:
- I-View is a simple low-cost offline-only HTML
browser offered by Talent Communications specifically intended for use in local and CD-ROM
applications, with low-cost unlimited run-time licensing. An I-View Pro version also
includes a local search engine.
- NetRoad is a shareware
offline-only browser, which is also offered in combination with a local search engine
- Additional browser software options and issues are described in CD-ROM and Web
Browsers: HTML as the Lingua Franca and Hybrid
'Net: CD-ROMs & the Web working in tandem.
This mode of access has emerged as a hot area as the limitations of purely online
access have become increasingly apparent. Offline searching of local content downloaded by
these tools is not yet supported, but should be expected to be added as their usage
- This category has gradually gained attention with the success of Pointcast, which leverages a screen-saver style,
dynamic presentation and an interesting business model, and with two prominent
- Time Warner Chairman Gerald Levin announced on April 11, 1996 that Pathfinder Personal
Edition would be delivered using Open Market's OM-Express, and that the
service would be provided to all CompuServe users. OM-Express enables either publisher or
user-defined packages of Web content to be delivered to the hard disk for offline use.
- Intel's Internet
Media Symposium promoted the entire category and included participation by First Floor Software (Smart Bookmarks, licensed by
Netscape, AOL, and others), and IFUSIONcom (ArrIve,
licensed by CNN, c|net, and others).
- Offline access is poised to become fully mainstream with indications
that all major browsers will provide offline features as a standard facility:
Internet Inbox Direct was announced August 19, 1996 as providing such support for
Navigator 3.0. Their approach is based on a mailbox model (pushed by the publisher rather
than pulled by the user) and fully supports rich, hyperlinked multimedia Web content. The
Netscape Intranet Vision and Product Roadmap (July 16, 1995) also announced a
continuing series of enhancements in its next browser, Galileo, and server, Orion, to
support rich client replication services (as well as server replication).
"Replication also makes it easy to take network resources such as discussion groups
and directories offline in a way that allows the user to continue to make changes and
updates; when the user goes back online, all the changes are properly reconciled."
- Reports are that Microsoft
Internet Explorer 4.0 will also provide significant offline/replication features
(Jesse Berst of PC Week,
8/19/96, and others), and that Microsoft's direction is to move toward fully distributed
media, where there is no functional difference between local and remote media objects (or
between Web views and the desktop view).
- Replication is, of course, the stronghold of Lotus Notes, which has offered powerful
server and client replication facilities for years. With their embrace of the Web with Domino, Notes client replication features will be
available for any Web content through the Notes
4.5 client web browser's "Web Ahead" and "Site Minder" features.
The need for broad client and server replication functions for the Internet is becoming
increasingly recognized as critical to an efficient infrastructure, and is now getting
substantial investment by all serious players. Microsoft is not the only sleeping giant
that has awakened, and Lotus has a chance to be a major player if they can leverage
Domino's early success (which is especially strong in the intranet market). Another
step in this direction was the October 30 announcement of Weblicator, which packages Lotus' rich
offline replication functions for use with any browser and any server. PC Week (11/11/96)
describes it as "poised to leapfrog all other offline Web browsing utilities."
- Replication is just one aspect of how extensions of groupware and intranet technology
will be central to the future development of Internet applications. For a broad overview,
see the article on Intergroupware by Richard
- Digital Delivery was one of the first to provide
offline service, with its initial use being to deliver CMP's TechWeb, on October 18, 1995.
- Other early offerings in this dynamic area include:
- Teleshuttle's Transporter API was the first independent tool
to enable simple, automated communications (dial or Internet) in a form that can be easily
integrated into CD-ROMs and other local applications. It was embedded into the Blockbuster
Video Guide to Movies and Videos, which CD-ROM Professional magazine judged "one of
the best consumer CD-ROM/online hybrids."
- A different and novel application of the same technology is the WebShuttle,
which enables local/Web hybrids and offline Web access that does not require Internet
subscriptions. This solution can be applied by itself, or as an additional option in
conventional ISP OEM subscription bundles.
- [CD-Net Systems briefly outlines
proprietary technology at a prototype level which is intended to combine CD-ROM images and
video with Web pages on the net. The approach is said to involve special user interface
tools as well as OCR technology. -- As of 11/96, this site seems to be gone; they were in
North Vancouver BC, at 604-986-6161.]
- WebCD from MarketScape
(announced August 26, 1996) provides a neatly integrated tool for facilitating the
production of Web/CD hybrids -- a significant step toward the vision we have described as The Next Generation in CD Web Hybrids. While it does not yet
have all of the features we have envisioned, version 1 appears to be a powerful tool that
is available to publishers now, and plans for version 2 promise to move in the right
direction. Marketscape is venture-backed and focused on this market. We suggest any
publisher considering hybrids give it a good look.
- HyperCD is another CD/Web hybrid technology
specialist (announced September 26, 1996), but offers their technology only as part of a
total service. They feature proprietary video support and encryption for pay-per-view
The major consumer online services selectively permit links from CD-ROMs (or other
applications) to their services. These usually target specific areas such as bulletin
boards or chat areas. Such arrangements typically require users to join the online
service. Inclusion of this capability in a CD-ROM product is generally subject to an
approval/negotiation process based-on the ability of the CD offering to bring new
significant numbers of new users to the online service.
- CompuServe was the first to make a toolkit available, the CompuServe Communications
Toolbox, announced in early 1995 and based on its earlier Host Micro Interface technology,
which had long been used for specialized local/online applications. (No relevant Web
- AOL announced a similar facility, AOL Developers Studio in
- Prodigy has similar tools, but we are not aware of a packaged offering. (No relevant Web
- MSN has aggressively emphasized the use of Windows95 shortcuts and other tools (such as
Blackbird) for links from local applications (including CD-ROM) to MSN or the Web. In
February 1996, Microsoft announced that it was moving directly from Blackbird to an
Internet-based facility, now called Internet Studio. Aside
from CD-ROMs, Microsoft has championed inclusion of online links into Enhanced CD music discs.
ISPs are increasingly turning to OEM or affinity group "bundles" which
package a browser pre-set to a sponsor's home page. This is a win-win solution to bringing
customers to the sponsor's Web site and acquiring new subscribers for the ISP. These are
particularly well suited to CD-ROM and Enhanced CD, but can be distributed on diskette as
- SPRY Mosaic Direct is the highest profile of these offerings, and has been used by major
marketers such as Hilton Hotels and Dell Computer (distributed on diskettes). (No current
Web reference known)
- Intuit introduced an innovative coupling of its Quicken '96 with Quicken Financial Network
(in October 1995), by providing free links to. The service offers free access to
the QFN Web site from the Quicken product CD, plus the option to pay for a general Web
access subscription (carried by Concentric Networks). Such sponsored Internet access is
something we expect to see much more of.
- Microsoft Complete Baseball was the first major consumer CD-ROM product to offer an
online supplement (March 1994). The Baseball Daily feature offered a download of daily
news and game scores, and was integrated into the user interface, but the content was not
integrated . (No current Web reference known).
- CompuServeCD was the first major online service to offer a CD-ROM supplement (March
1994). This periodical series provides links to various online forums, and an index to
files available for download with an online link to do the downloads. (No relevant Web
- The Blockbuster Video Guide to Movies & Videos was the
first consumer CD-ROM to include monthly online updates with (50-100 new film reviews)
that seamlessly integrate into the main CD database (July 1995). This product applies the
Teleshuttle Transporter API under the developer's own
proprietary user interface.
- Microsoft Encarta 96 CD-ROM was the first encyclopedia to offer deep Web integration,
including a fully integrated series of content updates, with a feature called Yearbook Builder, which provides for
insertion of update icons into existing articles for links to updates that have been
downloaded to the hard disk.
- The 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia features
links to relevant CompuServe forums.
- Ventana Press is an early developer of CDs with
links to the Web, with two online "books" about the Web: Walking the World Wide
Web and Internet Roadside Attractions. These are actually print plus CD-ROM, and the
feature they call WebWalker links the CD to an online companion.
- The Coriolis Group has
offered a CD on the Grand Canyon, with Web links, including a novel approach to dealing
with links that change after publication.
- An early CD/Web hybrid used to achieve product documentation cost reduction put at $4
million by Cisco Systems, was developed by Verity based on Spyglass
- An excellent example of wide applicability of CD/Web hybrids is the CyberSearch CD-ROM
from Frontier Technologies, which permits offline Lycos searching.
- Financial applications have been pioneers of local/online hybrid approaches. WealthBuilder is an early example, which goes online
to Reuters Money Network (originally Reality), a dedicated online service, to update stock
portfolios and obtain market reports.
- Another area of early activity has been in the business/legal information market. Many
of the major online search vendors offer some degree of online/offline capability. These
products tend to be very specialized in form, because of the special search interfaces,
and limited in nature, because of the massive databases involved and the concern of the
vendors about giving up online revenue.
- Additional end products are cited in the various survey articles listed in Part 1: General Information. (The list here is of
products of particular note, especially if not cited in other cited sources.)
Comments, suggestions, corrections:
Richard R. Reisman, President, Teleshuttle Corporation
799 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
(212)-673-0225 fax: (212)-673-0226
Note (8/28/98): This guide currently represents significant developments
through most of 1996. Resources have not be available to keep this current due to
other business commitments (and it is known that some links are no longer active). Those
who would like to encourage further updates are invited to email.
© 1996-7, Teleshuttle Corp. All rights reserved
Blog Reisman Patents Reisman
Bio About Teleshuttle
Resources Past Writings
The ghost of
Teleshuttle past: Pages retained for historical interest -- Not current,
may have broken links
Copyright 2003 (or prior), Teleshuttle Corp. All rights