Building an Integrated Communication Environment

Pedro Sousa, Rui José, António Costa, Vasco Freitas

Universidade do Minho
Departamento de Informática
P-4700-320 Braga, Portugal

Tel.: +351 253 604475
Fax.: +351 253 678954
Email: {costa,vf} (at)


In the past few years, WWW became the most successful information service on Internet. This can be partially justified by the level of integration achieved by client software: an easy to use interface based on hyper-link navigation and a common naming convention (URLs) well supported by a multi-protocol machine (HTTP, FTP, etc).

This out-of-the-box solution fulfills most of user needs, since the integration design process privileged a special set of services: the most commonly used ones.

A look backwards also brings up another example of success through integration: The BBS paradigm of communication. Traditional BBSs, successfully join small communities of users with common interests, offering them a way to share information, talk to each other (chat), send and receive private e-mail messages, and participate in open discussions using public messages.

In this paper we intend to share our recent experience on developing a communication environment with such functionalities, which is based upon WWW technology. Relevance is given to server side integration: a common set of data and configuration files, a set of administrative procedures and tools centered on an HTTP server.

Since many other types of on-line services may have similar requirements, in this paper the emphasis is on analyzing the implementability of those communication models under WWW technology.