by Pedro Veiga
One of the Research Groups of INESC was contacted, about a year ago, by some staff of one of the most popular Portuguese daily newspapers about their wish to have a daily publication on the WWW.
We started a series of meetings to see how this task could be accomplished in an efficient way. There was a very demanding requirement from the beginning: the daily work of the Newspaper should be disturbed to the minimum!
A study on the informatics infrastructure of the newspaper was initiated. The systems were fully based on MACs, from the editors to the publishing department. They were using standard word processors and, when a daily edition was ready to go for printing, all relevant files were placed in a central server. Some indexing material was already used in the header of each file and this was a big help.
We had to take a few crucial decisions:
The decision to start the project was taken and we developed software to process all the daily news located on the server, convert it to HTML and generate the relevant links "on the fly". The software development process took around 6 months and has been running since 21 September `95 on a daily basis with minimal adaptations. The only changes necessary are related to the need to change the look and feel on the Internet to the changing requirements of the newspaper staff.
The newspaper had a big success, specially to communities abroad: immigrants and students. They received thousands of support letters and e-mails.
On 1 Octorber `95, when we had the elections for the portuguese parliement we had the unique experience of publishing a "live version" of the newspaper with the results of the elections. After 7pm that day, when the counting of votes started, we were receiving data from the main computer controlling the election process, using some specially developed data communications code. Software that was specifically developed for the elections was storing the data in a database and a gateway to that Web could display all the data in a graphical format of the results of the different parties along the country (using a sensitive map of Portugal).
The project is now trying to obtain some funding to proceed. We have many ideas for potential development areas and we are looking forward to getting the necessary resources.
You can read the daily edition at: http://www.publico.pt/publico/hoje (for the daily edition) or: http://www.publico.pt
for the index of all editions starting from 21 September `95 stored together with a photo gallery that is being developed.