An Interactive Network Experiment to Study Modes of Access the Network Information Center
RFC 96

Document Type RFC - Informational (February 1971; No errata)
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                                           NIC 5739
Request for Comments: 96                               Richard W. Watson
Category: Informational                                          SRI-ARC
                                                        12 February 1971

An Interactive Network Experiment to Study Modes of Access the Network
Information Center

1.   Introduction

     This NWG/RFC outlines the framework for a simple interactive
experiment to study modes of access to the Network Information Center
(NIC). A detailed specification for the initial access conventions to
the NIC is contained in NWG/RFC 97, NIC (5740,). The initial online
service to be provided by the Network Information Center are oriented
around the SRI-ARC (ARC) Online System, typewriter version - NLS(T).
These services will involve creation, manipulation, searching, and
distribution of symbolic material (text initially). The initial Online
System was display oriented and considerable development has gone into
the study of features required for a comfortable interface to the user.
In preparation for use with the Network Information Center, a typewriter
oriented version has been developed. Assuming good computer response and
a typewriter terminal operating at 30 char/sec, the system provides
powerful and comfortable to use capabilities for handling structured
textual material.

     The question to which the experiment, to be described below,
addresses itself is to determine how to extend these capabilities
through the network to users at remote sites, possibly operating 10
char/sec and higher speed terminals through fairly heavily loaded
systems. This experiment will also provide useful information about the
interactive characteristics of the network, and guidelines for designers
of other interactive systems to be used with the network. We propose
that this experiment will be conducted with the assistance and
cooperation of one other site. We estimate that the experiment will
require about three calendar months. In order to minimize the resources
required for the experiment, we will collect meaningful response time
statistics that are easy to obtain with presetly existing metering
facilities in the SRI and cooperating site systems, and network
performance measuring facilities. We will not conduct formal
productivity studies with the users of the connection, but will obtain
their subjective impressions on use of the various connection modes. The
result will be data indicating the costs and benefits obtained using the
types of access described below. We would expect that this information
would be useful to sites in determining how they want to implement
access to the NIC and other interactive sites.

                                                                [Page 1]
NETWORK WORKING GROUP           RFC #96                         NIC 5739

During the period of the experiment, other sites will want to access the
NIC as they come up on the network. We would recommend a simple
approach, such as described in Section 2b, initially with a possible
change later if the experiment indicates improved response and/or human
factors coupling can be obtained with one of the other approaches,
NWG/RFC 97, NIC (5740,) specifies this initial access approach in

2.   Getting Connected to the Network

   2a.   Introduction

        There are three basic approaches to allowing remote sites to
   connect to the NIC through the network, which we can call User
   Program Telnet, NLS(T) Front End, Monitor Telnet. Each of these is
   discussed below. Each approach requires code which will run in the
   remote host.

        We assume that standard conventions for Telnet programs will be
   specified by the Network Working Group. In the companion paper
   (NWG/RFC 97), NIC (5740,)) we include recommended conventions on
   solving those problems which we are aware exists relative to initial
   NIC access, although we have tried to specify conventions useful more
   generally. The NLS(T) Front End Program would interface to the Telnet

        We assume that no matter which approach is taken, the software
   at the ARC end use the information obtained during the connection
   process to log-in the remote terminal under a general account and
   will place the terminal user in the NIC version of NLS, which we will
   call NLS(NIC) for short. The NLS(NIC) will ask the terminal user for
   his initials. The remote user then has access to all NIC facilities.

        The initial typewriter oriented system accepts commands of the
   general form:

   <command words> <operand> <delimiter> ... <operand> <delimiter>

        The <command words> is usually two words, the first to indicate
   a general operation class, and the second to indicate a general data
   structure type to be operated on. The <operand>s specify specific
   data entities to be operated upon, or instructions to adjust NLS

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