Mac-based Software for Conferencing, Guestbooks, Site Feedback, etc.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
ConferWeb Home Page


Software, documentation and data files copyright 1998-2004 Brian Johnson, Department of Architecture, University of Washington.

Frequently Asked Questions

I use OS-9. There is a new version of Tanaka's OSAX available (2.0) Should I use it?
No, you should get Tanaka's earlier package (Tanaka's OSAX 1.1-1.3 all work, 2.0+ does not).
Where can I download the Parse CGI OSAX?
The site 'marquis.tiac.net/software/home.html' is not very reliable. You can also d/l Parse CGI at http://cgi.scriptweb.com/osaxen/. To help, I now maintain a copy of ParseCGI (and the other OSAXen) on my website. Check the "OS-9 Requirements" page.
How does the password.acgi file work?

This is a plain-text (ASCII) file, located in the same folder as the conference or guestbook it protects. It should contain a single word, on a single line. This is the password which you will need to enter in your browser when doing administrative functions. It is case sensitive. The file MUST be named "password.acgi". This name keeps the file from being readily accessed by a browser, even though it is located within the servable files.

If you want to disable administrative editing of a given conference or guestbook altogether, simply remove the file.

Is there an extra "delete this item" checkbox created during editing?

Depending on the location of certain ConferWeb structural tags (CW_EOP & CW_RESPONSE), pages may display a seemingly "extra" checkbox just above the form. That "extra" deletion checkbox is really not extra. Use it to delete the response form at the bottom of the thread. To understand how this works, read on.

The page being edited is divided into blocks of text spanning from one <!--CW_RESPONSE--> to the next one, except that the last block of text is terminated by the <!--CW_EOP--> tag. The standard "newitem.tmpl" file includes a <!--CW_RESPONSE--> right at the beginning of the response form for the thread. This does two things: it terminates the user response above this point, and it isolates the response form as a separate, deletable block of text.

When I first started ConferWeb, it prompted me to "select WebStar". Why?

The prompt is a bit misleading. It is actually coming from the AppleScript system, not ConferWeb. AppleScript is trying to find equivalent software on YOUR system for all of the messages that ConferWeb normally sends at some time during operation on MY .

ConferWeb wants to send a "Flush Cache" command to the web server software every time a conference thread is modified (to make sure an old copy of the page isn't being delivered from the server's cache). Because MY web server software is named "WebStar 2.1", this is the name that AppleScript looks for.

Use the dialog box to select YOUR WEB SERVER (MacHTTP, Quid Pro Quo, WebStar 3.0, etc.) so that ConferWeb has a target for the "Flush Cache" message. It doesn't matter whether your server actually accepts such a command (if it fails, ConferWeb ignores the error).

If you are using Apple's Personal Web Sharing under OS 8 there isn't a webserver application to select, but you can still get the desired effect by selecting the confer.acgi application itself!

When I try to post something I get a "PARSE cgi may not be installed correctly"

Under Systems prior to OS 8 there was a folder called "Scripting Additions" located in the "Extensions" folder, within the "System Folder". This is where OSAX files are placed.

Under OS 8 and later you will find the "Scripting Additions" folder one level higher, in the "System Folder". (You may also find a "Scripting Additions" in the old location--it's there for transition.)

While it is not supposed to be necessary, many ConferWeb users have found that restarting their server after installing OSAXen helps scripts such as ConferWeb.

How do I get the NEW content to show up without reloading?

When someone creates a new thread in a ConferWeb conference, or adds to an existing thread, files are changed on the server. The file needs to be downloaded again from the server. An appropriate command to do this is sent by ConferWeb when the page is updated, but browsers may have cached (stored) the OLD page on the local hard disk, and may incorrectly re-display the old page when told to reload. This makes it seem that the page is not being updated.

There are two ways to fix this problem.

  • The best solution, in terms of network bandwidth, depends on the individual doing the browsing. In Netscape Navigator the user needs to set the "Options, General Preferences, Check Documents" setting to "Every time". This tells Netscape to verify the cache, and when it tries to do so, it will discover that the page has changed, and a fresh copy will be downloaded.

  • The other solution, which the webmaster may deploy, is to inhibit caching of the conference pages by inserting the following META tag into the HEAD of the conference index and thread template.
    <META HTTP-EQUIV="Pragma:" Content="no-cache">
    This forces the browser to reload the pages of the conference whenever they are viewed, without regard for whether or not they have changed. In fact, the "Meta no-cache" tag is now included in all ConferWeb "standard issue" conference templates.
When I double click on ConferWeb to launch it, it asks where WebStar 2.1 is. I don't use WebStar, I use Quid Pro Quo. What's the deal?
ConferWeb wants to be able to tell the server application to "flush the cache" when it updates a page. The name of the server application that I'm using as a development environment shows up here, but you can select ANY application on your Mac using the associated dialog box and all will be well. Of course, it would probably help if you picked your actual web server (Quid Pro Quo in this case), but in the case of Apple's "Personal Web sharing" for instance, there is no selectable web server--so select Confer.acgi iteself!
Help! I get an "Error opening ..." or "variable 'file_name' not defined" message when I try to post to the conference!

If you link to your forum with http://server/folder/forum/ (no file name) instead of http://server/folder/forum/index.html, you will have this problem. While the server delivers a file, the "referer" for any postings will be the short link shown above, without the file name.

I am able to browse a conference, and go through the motions of posting to it, but I don't see the posting until later. What's the problem?
It sounds like your browser is storing, or "cacheing" the OLD version of the web page and not retrieving the new one. There are two approaches to fixing this: (a) (in the browser) tell your browser to "check document every time" (or something similar), this keeps it from assuming the cached copy is valid, and (b) (on the server) use the "meta pragma=no-cache" tags in your ConferWeb files (see the templates). This is an instruction to the browser not to cache the file. I generally use both a and b and rarely have any problems.
When I post something to a conference thread, I get a duplicate copy of the page. What's the problem?
This will happen if your thread (and presumably the "newitem.tmpl" file) doesn't have a recognizable insertion point. Make sure that one of the <!--DIVIDE_HERE--> or
<!--DIVIDE_BELOW--> comments are present and that it is formatted correctly (no spaces).
I am able to post material to a conference, but I always get "Incorrect password" when I try to delete anything. What's the problem?
This has been a problem for some people. You MUST edit this file as simple ASCII text. ALL text in the file becomes part of the password and must be entered for the password test to be passed. Also, the file MUST be in the same folder as the actual guestbook or conference being modified. If you have this problem, and none of these suggestions help, please contact me by email.
What's your email address?
brj@u.washington.edu