Requirements for the FTP and WWW server are modest. The entire activity during these experiments was piggy-backed on an existing server dedicated to supporting distance learning activities in the College of Engineering at Texas Tech University with no noticeable degradation in performance. The machine was a 90 MHz Pentium with 32 MB RAM and a 1 GB hard disk running Windows NT 4.0 Workstation.
Windows NT 4.0 accommodates long file names and preserves the case of file names but is not case sensitive. This feature permitted review of the contributions to proceed in parallel with the process of ensuring that all file names, and references to them in HTML documents, are upper case and conform to the 8.3 file name format, as required by ISO 9660. File names, and references to them, must be consistent in case in ISO 9660 multi-platform CD-ROMs because UNIX machines are case sensitive. ISO 9660 circumvents UNIX case sensitivity simply by requiring all file names and references to them to be upper case. File names must follow the 8.3 format because MS-DOS machines do not recognize long file names.
Windows NT 4.0 Workstation also makes it easy to configure the server so that certain directories can receive files by FTP and make them immediately accessible on the WWW. This configuration permits authors to upload their files and then view them immediately to make sure that they arrived safely and that HTML links function properly in the new environment. FTP access to each directory was controlled with a password that was made available only to the author of the files in that directory and to the editors. During the review process, WWW access to all directories for a particular issue was controlled with a single password that was made available to contributors, reviewers and editors. Ultimately, of course, the files were made publicly accessible on the WWW for a limited time.
The WWW server must be configured to notify browsers of any special file (MIME) types that it is about to send them. With this information, the browser can choose the appropriate plug-in or helper application, if one is available to handle the file or, if one is not available, so inform the user and offer the option of simply storing the file. Once the files and directories are transferred to CD-ROM, of course, no server is available to give instructions to the browser. In that case, the browser relies on file associations on the local machine for information about what application to call on to handle the file. The fact that the browser, depending on the environment in which a file resides obtains information about the file from different sources, can lead to apparently confusing behavior.