We plan to expand the Netlib repository from a handful of mirrored servers to a virtual repository consisting of many servers. All of these servers will be accessible from the Xnetlib client program. The services offered will include access to software, documents, and databases, as well as remote execution facilities. A user will not need to know where a particular service is located but will be able to employ both browsing and searching mechanisms to locate and access the desired service.
Future releases of Xnetlib will provide a means whereby newly inaugurated services using the Xnetlib protocol will not require use of a new version of the Xnetlib application. The special-purpose code describing the window layout and functions will be downloaded at run time from the remote service provider. This run-time binding of functionality will greatly enhance the flexibility and adaptability of Xnetlib.
As the software and document base grows in size and complexity, simple syntactic keyword searching mechanisms, such as that provided by WAIS, are likely to prove inadequate. We plan to add new search mechanisms that incorporate semantics and make use of more structured knowledge representations.