Internet Agents for Effective Collaboration
With the ever-growing Internet, distributed applications are gaining popularity. Going “online” to browse, to send/receive emails is an integral part of our daily lives. In fact, the majority of Internet users rely on email and web browsers as the de-facto tools for collaboration. Such popular tools, however, provide limited and inefficient mechanisms for collaboration, especially when several collaborators and resources are involved. Surprisingly, collaboration tools such as NetMeeting and Netscape Collabra are only used in limited applications despite their rich collaboration support. What is lacking is an invisible infrastructure that extends email and web browsing tools - to which most Internet users are accustomed and addicted - to intuitive interfaces of a full-fledged Web collaboration system. In this paper we present WAPM, a Web Agent Programming Model that uses mobile agents as the tool for coordination and describes a model that uses familiar tools such as the web and email for effective asynchronous collaboration. We introduce WAPM and give details of a simple scripting language used to direct agent actions, a pre-processor to check the validity of the script, an agent manager that creates and manages agents according to the script and a defined class hierarchy for developing application agents in WAPM. The mobile agents are based on the aZIMAs (almost Zero Infrastructure Mobile Agents) system that integrates mobile agents with web servers by providing mobility using HTTP.
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