Note: Teleshuttle's proprietary software and online
operations services are no longer marketed.
Please view the consulting information on the Teleshuttle home page.
The information shown dates from 1996 or earlier, and remains relevant to the history of CD/online/Web hybrid technology.
The Teleshuttle Service is based on a standard software component, which controls the transport of data objects. This component works in concert with a special purpose remote server (operated by Teleshuttle Corp. or licensees) or a standard FTP server on the Internet. The transporter component is designed to be used by program calls to its Application Program Interface (API), which allows a developer to embed this function into their own environment and maintain full control their own distinctive look-and-feel and data presentation. The API is currently supplied as a C++ object library.
The essence of the Teleshuttle is to isolate the communications functions from the existing product functions, and to make those functions available at a very high level, without impact on the containing product. The containing product need not be aware of the details of communication, which is done in a totally transparent fashion. At the same time, Teleshuttle avoids involvement in user interface and information presentation functions, leaving those to the containing product (unless the simplified Drop-in Utility Transporter is selected).
Simple, high level information transport is provided by use of a manifest list of objects to be transported to or from a preset file staging area. To request an update, just list in the manifest the name of the object to be fetched, and call the Teleshuttle's transport function. The connection is made automatically, the file located, fetched, decompressed, and placed in the staging area. Control is then returned, with status reported back in the manifest. The containing product can then use the fetched file in any way it wishes. Order placement may be done correspondingly.
Information objects are merely shuttled by name between preset directories on the userís disk and a predefined remote server. The process is totally transparent to the nature of the data object. As a result, there is no interference between the Teleshuttle and any aspect of the information formatting. Data objects may be encrypted at one end and decrypted at the other under control of the product, without any awareness by the Teleshuttle . Arbitrary data structures may be employed, also without any awareness by the Teleshuttle.
The containing product can exploit this transparency to employ all the special structures it needs to effect a seamless integration between original and update data. Updates may use the same user interface, and indexes and related navigational data may be included and used by the product in an integrated fashion. For example, the product may search update indexes and original indexes in series and build a combined set of matching items. It can then present the results as a single set, sorted as desired, to be used for retrieval from either CD or hard disk, without the user being aware of the difference. Similarly, obsoleted items can be flagged in the update and blocked from retrieval off the CD.
An interactive effect can be achieved even though true interactive sessions are intentionally avoided. This is done by recursive use of the simple transport functions provided by the Teleshuttle. Fetch operations always fetch named information objects (and then disconnect before returning control to the user), but such objects can be a catalog listing of other available objects. By first fetching the latest catalog, the user can get a list of new items, which can then be used to start a second fetch operation for any specified new item. This enables open-ended information-on-demand applications.
The Teleshuttle API interface is consistent over any supported network technology. Network options may be preset, or left for user selection. Initial support is for direct-dial or X.25; Internet/FTP is due in Fall, 1995 (to support users who have working TCP/IP socket service.) Connect costs are minimized by terminating calls automatically as soon as the manifest completes.
The Teleshuttle is pre-configured to a given product by specifying the designated phone number or network address of the server, and the designated file staging area. On installation of the product by the user, or upon the first transport request, basic communications configuration information must be obtained, such as communications port number. This can be obtained by the product and passed to the shuttle via the API. The user may also enter a unique ID which will have been supplied in the product packaging, if restriction of access to updates is desired.
Most products employing the Teleshuttle will elect to use its program-level API interface to maintain full control of all user interface and presentation functions. Alternatively, a simple Teleshuttle Drop-in Utility Transporter can be included with a product, to provide basic functions in a standard format, with no additional programming at all. Specialized Plug-in interfaces are also offered, which pre-integrate with selected authoring/search/browser environments, including Folio VIEWS (now), and Electronic Book's DynaText, and Macromind Director (planned). In WebShuttle(tm) service, the Teleshuttle transporter can be used with a Web browser as a helper application. This allows viewing of local Web subsets, launching the transporter as a helper application to fetch new content via direct-dial, with no Internet access at all.