FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

What is the BeanBrowser?
    An open source Java project that involves JavaBeans, RMI, XML, JSP, Servlets, applets, etc… The BeanBrowser evolved to include the most interesting Java technologies as they were developed, but it has yet to evolve past a developer's dream.

    Hopefully it will become a way in which people share information. The BeanBrowser is designed as a way to put JavaBeans in front of people; as world wide web of JavaBeans. Designed to allow web users to interactively create pages similar to html pages. These pages are interactive too, so that standard web users of the site can add content like text, attachments, images, mp3s, or whatever the Beans are designed to handle.

How is it different from the World Wide Web?

  • 1) Pages are constructed out of JavaBeans, not html. JavaBeans are drag-and-drop, so that page creation is a non technical task.
  • 2) Every page has an owner. Only the owner can modify a page.
  • 3) The World Wide Web is a mostly a means of presentation. It is rarely interactive, and usually requires technical skills to create interactive content. The
  • BeanBrowser is inherently interactive in that users can design content, or create it through the process of browsing.

Why is it free?
   Simple answer is that the principles of supply and demand dictate that the lower the cost, the more use the product gets. We would make the cost negative if we could, but we are not funded to do so. :)
   The BeanBrowser is open source, meaning that not only is it free (as in free beer), but it is free (as in free speech). The license ensures that no one will be able to take away the communication platform (including us), and you are free to modify it to make it more secure, more functional, more suited to your specific needs, etc...
   Because the BeanBrowser is a communication platform, designed to strengthen the nontechnical, low budget (nonprofit, individual, social) communities, and because we need the collective help of the world to make the product successful, we feel that the open source status is perfectly justified.
   The BeanBrowser augments, and competes, with the Web. Because the Web's leading web server (Apache) and web browsers are free (IE) or open source (Netscape), we feel that free is the cost that the market will bear.

Is it secure?
    No. Not at all.

Could it be secure?
    Yes. Depending on developer input, and legislation.

Who owns the BeanBrowser?
    You do. It is open source meaning that you can take the source and modify it to you heart’s content. Please give improvements back to us so that we can integrate them and distribute the improved product to everyone.

What information space is the BeanBrowser in?
    The BeanBrowser is somewhere between WWW, Usenet, and e-mail. Page based like the Web; every page is owned by some one, and conversations exist in threaded format like News and e-mail, but some are public, and some are private. The space is called the BeanWeb, or BeanBrowser Web (BBW).

How does the BeanBrowser integrate with the Web?
    The BeanBrowser is written in Java, which means that the client and server can run on any platform (Windows, Macintosh as Linux). The client can run as an application, or as an applet imbedded within an HTML page. That is just the beginning.
    Pages are saved on the server as XML files that refer to images, attachments and other rich content. During the save, an html representation is also saved so that the page can be viewed through a standard html browser (if the page has 'HTMLable’ beans). The BeanBrowser is designed to be the primary moderation tool, and an html browser (hopefully an open source one like Mozilla) is designed to be the primary end user window into the BeanWeb.

What is your revenue model?
    There is no revenue model.

What version are we up to?
    Beta. Suitable for Java developers only. Poorly documented, feature deprived, unstable, and rising. Only gets better from here.

Who is the ideal user of the BeanBrowser?
    Java developers that want to set up virtual communities.
    DSL or T1 line for hosting your server is strongly recommended. Local development is possible without it, but being analogous to a web browser/web server, a constant connection is a must have for the early adopter.
   Soon we hope to drop the java developer requirement.

What platforms does the BeanBrowser run on?
    The BeanBrowser was developed and tested on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. Any platform with a Java Virtual Machine should suffice. Currently only being tested on Mac OS X.
    Requires a servlet engine (Apache’s Tomcat).
    Any web browser should suffice for web users.

Tell me about the architecture?
    There is a client, a server, and a servlet engine. The server stores all of the pages in the file system. The client and the servlet engine get pages from the server, and display them. Pages are stored as XML, and as html for efficient display for standard web users. It did have an applet interface as well, but not currently supported.

How does the BeanBrowser relate to privacy, and intellectual property issues?
    I can run a server, which potentially allows others to create interactive content, with which a third could interact anonymously and/or securely.
    A goal is to help us test the boundaries, and decide what sort of freedoms people will have in the future. People should be highly interactive, and participate in society more than they have during the silent couch potato revolution, so I have created this Personal Information Server (PIS). More like a private party that a billboard, the BeanBrowser is better fit for creating community, than for broadcasting. As we will see, it is a thin line between the two.
    There is Freedom of Speech. As long as you don’t say too much. What is too much? How is it enforced? Who owns information, content, speech?
What is privacy? Can the anonymous be tolerated? Let’s find out.

How can I help?
    Attempt to use the BeanBrowser and somehow make it easier or more rewarding for the next person. It is poorly documented because you have not yet documented it. :) If you are a Java developer you could try to run the BeanBrowser, and deploy a JavaBean of your own construction. Take apart the included Beans (LinkList, Text, Image, Attachment, etc..) and try to create your own.
   Deploying the tool is what it was made for - good luck.
   Software engineers are most needed. Anything else is difficult until the bugs are gone. Enhancements include:

  • Beans need integrated server-side functionality. EJB server? Can we integrate J2EE functionality? Example would be streaming media, or database access. Difficulty 4
  • Become an expert in a piece of the tool and document it. Difficulty 3
  • Try to create your own Beans. A radio button bean is a simple and obvious omission from the included set. Difficulty 2
  • Try to install the BeanBrowser and provide feedback to BeanBrowser.org. Succeed or fail, to try is a Difficulty 1
  • Test it on different platforms. Different operating systems, web servers, JVMs, etc...
  • Ant, JUnit integration would be nice.