TACTWeb: Installation

TACTweb is PC software that allows any PC running Windows (3.x, 95 or NT) to support the querying of TACT databases (TDB's) over the Web. TACTweb, however, doesn't do the entire job itself. Instead, it works in tandem with Web Server software that must also be installed on the server PC. Thus, setting up TACTweb involves:

To use TACTweb, then, you will need three pieces of software -- all of which are available over the Web:

Selecting a Suitable Web Server

Before beginning the actual installation, you must consider which Web Server software you plan to use to support TACTweb. TACTweb has been tested with two PC-based Web Servers. The two recommended servers are HTTPD for Windows which runs under Windows 3.x, and O'Riley Software's WebSite which runs under Windows 95. HTTPD for Windows is essentially free. Website is not free software, although a version can be downloaded for testing. Using one of these two servers, TACTweb can be made to work on a Windows 3.x or Windows 95 machine -- although we have found WebSite under Windows 95 to be more reliable. TACTweb might run with other servers under other operating systems, but we have not tested it. In this document we will only discuss how to set up TACTweb to work from a Windows 95 machine with WebSite.

Preparing your PC to act as a server

Finding a suitable PC

To run WebSite one needs a PC that is (a) running Windows 95, and, of course (b) that has full-time access to the Internet.

Although not absolutely obligatory, it is best to choose a PC to run TACTweb which is not being used for anything else. If your server becomes busy, you will find that the machine will become slow for any other use.

Ensuring TCP/IP Software is Present

If your designated machine is already running Windows 95 machine, and on that machine you are already using a browser like Internet Explorer or Netscape, then TCP/IP is already set up on it, and you can skip forward to the next section.

If not, you should ensure that the TCP/IP support that comes with Windows 95 has been turned on. This can be done by starting up the "Network" object in the Win95 Control Panel, and asking to install Microsoft's TCP/IP Protocol.

Establishing the IP number and Domain Name

Since this machine is going to act as a server rather than just as a WWW client, it is necessary that your user community be able to access it. Your users will be able to reference your machine either by its IP number, or preferrably, by its Domain Name. If your machine is already accessing the web than it almost certainly already has an IP number assigned to it. If it has only been used as an Internet Client machine, however, it may not necessarily have a Domain Name. Talk to your local network administrator to find out what IP number and Domain Name (if any) is assigned to it.

If your machine has no domain name, your network manager can probably arrange to bind an appropriate Domain Name to your machine. By convention, Domain Names for WWW servers usually begin with the sequence "www." Although this is preferrable, it is not essential.

Setting up WebSite

At the time of writing, WebSite was available to try out for free and could be downloaded and tested over the Internet. Different versions of WebSite can be purchased from O'Riley Software. We have used TACTweb with both the test version, and with the version that is bundled with O'Riley's book "Building your Own WebSite".

Installing WebSite software on your PC is a three-stage process:

Setting up DOS Environment Space

TACTweb requires the server to run back-end scripts in a DOS window. It will fail if you don't have enough environment space. Add a line


to the [NonWindowsApp] section of your SYSTEM.INI which is normally found in the "c:\windows" directory. Then shut down and restart your computer.

Installing and configuring TACTweb

TACTweb components are installed in the directory tree that belongs to the WebSite server. The following graphic shows where the most important pieces are put when TACTweb is installed:

Recall that the directories WebSite, htdocs and cgi-dos are created when the Website server is installed. The directory htdocs and its subdirectories contain documents that the server can serve directly to clients. The directory cgi-dos contains programs that can be run for clients by means of the CGI interface. The directory tactweb is created specifically for TACTweb and is placed as a subdirectory of the document directory htdocs. The major files that make up TACTweb are:

  1. A TACT database which must be on the machine TACTweb is to use (not shown in the diagram above). A sample TACT database ("TDB file") called midsumme.tdb is provided in the TACTweb distribution to allow you to test out the software, but any TDB you can create with TACT 2.x software can be used. TDBs can be put in any directory on your computer, although there are some advantages to putting all the TDBs you want TACTweb to access in one subdirectory.
  2. An HTML document that contains an HTML form that can be used to query TACTweb. A sample HTML form can be found in tactweb.htm and these forms should be placed somewhere within WebSite's document directories, so that it can serve it to the client on demand. In addition to tactweb.htm, there are a collection of example and documentation documents provided. They should be put in the same directory as tactweb.htm. When unpacked, these documents will be in directory C:\Website\htdocs\tactweb, or subdirectories of it.
  3. A DOS .BAT file called dotactq.bat that sets up a suitable environment in which TACTweb runs, runs tactweb.exe, points it at the TDB it is to use, and ensures that the resulting HTML file that TACTweb creates is returned to the WWW server, so that it can in turn return the result back to the client. This batch file should also be placed in "c:\WebSite\cgi-dos". The file "dotactq.bat" allows TACTweb to access the demo TDB that comes with the distribution. Other files with other names can be created there to point at your TDBs.
  4. The TACTweb program itself tactweb.exe. This program will use the CGI interface provided by WebSite to access the query submitted to it by means of the form in tactweb.htm, interpret it, process the query against the given TDB database, and create an HTML document that contains the result of the search and resulting display. TACTweb should be placed in directory "c:\WebSite\cgi-dos" where WebSite will expect to find programs that it can run.
  5. The files tactjb.res and isolatin.xdt which are used by the TACTweb program. These files should be placed in the same directory as tactweb.exe: "c:\WebSite\cgi-dos"

Unzipping the Software

All the files mentioned above are stored in the TACTWEB.ZIP archive. We assume in the following description that the WebSite software has already been installed in directory C:\WebSite.

Testing out TACTWEB

TACTWEB.ZIP has been configured so that you should be able to immediately try it out, accessing the demonstration "midsummer.tdb" database. To do so:

Having now installed TACTweb, and tested it with the demonstration database, you are ready to adapt it for your own use.

[Configuring TACTweb]

Web design Alex Stevens, content Geoffrey Rockwell or John Bradley. March 7, 1997