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1. Rationale for a WWW-based visualization service

1. 2. Use of remote visualization methods

The world-wide-web WWW offers an excellent opportunity to make visualization techniques available to the general public. Designers of visualization tools can offer the use of their tool as a service on the internet. The necessary components to access the internet and the WWW are already available to the public and wide-spread. One may assume that skills to use such service have already been developed by the envisioned client. Internet search mechanisms are in place to draw the client's attention to such service as soon as it becomes available.

Basic components are available to allow the creation of a WWW visualization service. The JAVA programing language offers the required functionality to design the user interface and communication between the visualization client and the visualization server. JAVA is supported by the major WWW browsers and as such widely available. VRML offer the necessary support to deliver the visualization to the client for further use. As shown in this paper, the technical problems were solved and a visualization server was implemented. For the present time, this prototype of a visualization server is a no-cost service on the WWW since DLR is a non-profit organization. Much research is presently going into the development of save accounting methods on the WWW. Because of the high interest others have in the issue of pricing internet service, one may assume that solutions will soon be available that will allow for commercial visualization servers (see: [11]). This paper does not address this issue. Also, a detailed analysis of a potential security problem is beyond the scope of this paper.

Ideally, there would be a standard for data formats to be accessed by visualization algorithms. Such standard does not exist and a large variety of formats is in use. Experience shows that the data format as long as it is well described does not pose a major obstacle for cooperation. Most formats are easily converted to other related formats and the typical client of visualization service will have some programming experience and thus will be able to perform data conversion.

Fig. 1: Communication links between the client's site and the server's site (Initial steps). The html-page and the JAVA applet are downloaded first from the standard WWW-server to built the front-end at the client's site. Then the applet connects to the visualization server.