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Copyright (C) 1995 University of Dortmund, Germany.

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this manual provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.

Permission is granted to copy and distribute modified versions of this manual under the conditions for verbatim copying, provided that the entire resulting derived work is distributed under the terms of a permission notice identical to this one.

Permission is granted to copy and distribute translations of this manual into another language, under the above conditions for modified versions, except that this permission notice may be stated in a translation approved by the Free Software Foundation.


The freeWAIS-sf distribution contains clients, servers, and auxiliary programs for the TCP/IP protocol known as WAIS. See section The WAIS Protocol. The distribution is focussed on the WAIS server waisserver and the indexer waisindex. Clients are distributed only for convenience. You can use any WAIS client to query the freeWAIS-sf server.

The WAIS Protocol

The WAIS protocol is based on the ANSI standard Z39.50 Version 1 (aka Z39.50 V1 or Z39.50 88). It uses only a subset of features of the Z39.50. Namely no requests which require the server to preserve some state are used. The WAIS protocol extents this basic features with elements for relevance feedback. The WAIS protocol is sometimes slightly incorrect also referred to as Z39.50 V1.

This ad hoc extension found their way back to the Z39.50 standard when the next version Z39.50 V2 (aka Z39.50 92) was defined. For implementation of WAIS-like (remember: WAIS is the name of the original protocol) the exist a definition of subset called the "WAIS Profile". Often Z39.50 V2 is used as synonym for this profile. freeWAIS-sf currently does not support Z39.50 V2.

Client Server Architecture

A WAIS System consists of clients talking to a server via an TCP/IP network using the WAIS protocol. Servers answer search requesta using auxiliary data structures called the index. These are created for the original documents by the waisindex program. Retrieve-requests are answered by the server fetching (parts of) the original files. As set of documents together with their associate index is called a WAIS database.

                     |     +------+     |
                     |                  |
                  +-----+          +---------+
                  |Index|          |Documents|
                  +-----+          +---------+
                     ^                  |
                     |     +-------+    |

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