|Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) has
announced that it is now making its Sparrow Web Java-based Web-editing
program available for beta testing. Sparrow Web is a system that adds structured,
in-place editing to community-shared Web pages. It allows contributors
to add and modify information on a Sparrow Web page using simple fill-in
forms specified by the author/manager of the page. The pages support a
variety of activities, including listing upcoming events, scheduling meetings,
and gathering project proposals.
A community-shared page is originally crafted
by a single author who defines the initial content and scope of the document.
But it can be modified or added to by any interested contributor, and the
barriers for doing so are lessened by allowing changes to be made in a
"lightweight manner." Community-shared pages increase the collaborative
capability of the Web.
With Sparrow Web, users don't need to change to
a different application and find the place in the file system where the
page is stored. They can click on the page they're viewing within their
Sparrow Web also allows editing in place. During
editing, the context of the rest of the page remains in place. The metaphor
used is that of the "outliner": The triangle graphic turns downward to
"open" up an editing region. Meanwhile, the page contents above and below
the editing region remain unchanged and visible.
Sparrow Web also provides structured editing.
The page author specifies the fields in the Sparrow Web items, and the
program presents a form for contributors to fill out or edit. The form
can be very general (a large text-editing area) or very specific (many
different form elements to handle many kinds of entries), as the author
There's no need to know (or see) HTML. Contributors
fill out forms rather than see the actual HTML that's generated to format
their inputs. The author has already specified the formatting for the Sparrow
Web item. And there's no need to explicitly lock the file. Sparrow Web
handles concurrency and merging behind the scenes.
Information about Sparrow Web and a demo are available
The Sparrow Web package comes with sample pages—a set of commonly used
templates that can be cloned and used immediately—and a complete author's
manual for creating new pages.
Sparrow Web is available for a free 90-day trial
AlphaAve.com is a collaborative effort developed, designed, and owned by
Xerox Corp. (http://www.xerox.com)
and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT; http://www.rit.edu).
According to the company, AlphaAve.com, which launched in November 2001,
is designed to make new technology available more quickly to more people.
In December 2001, Xerox Corp. announced that it
would create an independent company from PARC, which would function as
a wholly owned Xerox subsidiary. At that time, Xerox was in discussions
with potential strategic partners for the new company.
Source: Xerox PARC, Palo Alto, CA, 650/812-4000;