Re: Forms support in clients
Mon, 3 Oct 1994 16:30:13 -0500 (EDT)

> > >A lot of people are saying "what's the value" or "it wouldn't be
> > >secure" or "it would be a burden on the server". All good questions.
> > >
I can give a specific example of the value of a scripting language in
a document. Back in the mid-70's I helped develop a modeling language
in which formulas would contain what we then called a "reference function".
The reference would specify data elements to be used in the
current formula. A reference would consist of location:context:
table:row spec:column spec. Each formula containing table was
patterned after the green spreadsheets that economists are fond of.
(Yes, I really blew the marketing of this one.) We might have a table
entry like:
INCOME FROM SALES | (tab=Production:rows=US:cols=1974)times trend(loc=
FedReserve:tab=GNP:rows=Consumer Products:cols=1965-1973)

Each table could reference other tables the current system or
(depending on who won the fight with the sysadmins) other systems. (Not
much was networked back then.) The reference function assumed the value
of the referenced object. The syntax was much different but I think the
example captures what we were doing. This system was used in creating
economic and financial models and the economists, lawyers and financial
planners loved it (because they could read the code that executed).

I've been thinking about how to change the system to take advantage of
web technology. So far I've resisted the temptation to do it using the
scripting language we used then, which was - see below...
> The trouble with CGI, however, is that it tends to require the
> sysadmin to anticipate all ways that I, as a client, might want to
> search or aggregate or summarize the document space offered by the
> server (or the other servers I can reach.)
> > What worries me, if we are in fact talking about the
> > general case, is that a client might try to get a server on, say,
> > a VAX to run a script written in, say, REXX. It ain't gonna fly.
> Nah. I've been thinking of IBM MVS JCL as the script language, perhaps
> with RPG or APL extensions. ;-)

You got it, APL!!!

There is real value in a good scripting language and I've watched this
discussion closely. Only other thing I might add at this time is that
it might be reasonable to restrict the language so that it can only
modify the currently active document space.

Bob Jernigan