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Agent-integrated concurrent web programming

Theodore Hong, Keith Clark

Journal Article
Software: Practice and Experience
John Wiley & Sons

The web is becoming a rich computation environment supporting an

ecology of programs that operate on web information resources, which

tend to follow certain structural conventions and be accessed over the

network. Webstream is a language designed to address the special

characteristics of web data and simplify the development of web

applications. It is embedded within the April agent programming

language and encapsulates web documents as streams of messages passing

through sequences of concurrent April processes, permitting downstream

operations to begin in advance while upstream operations are still

being completed, in a manner similar to lazy evaluation. Streams can be

pipelined through arbitrary combinations of filters which perform

transformations such as parsing HTML/XML tags, extracting subset streams

based on function closures or regular expressions, and combining or

splitting streams in various ways. These facilities make it easy to

build a wide variety of web applications such as metasearch engines or

web crawlers. The language is particularly suitable for building

intelligent information server agents that can monitor and collect

data from the web and answer high-level queries or subscriptions from

other agents about data that they are interested in. It provides more

features than other web-specific languages and is more concise than

libraries for general-purpose languages.

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