Browser Software

The banner across the top of the screen scrolled through destinations in Spain, Portugal and Greece. For every new resort, a new matrix of images; pictures of hotels, beaches and restaurants. The demonstration cycled four times while I waited to talk to the ticket agent. It would have been five, but someone stepped out the queue and pressed the ‘Book Now’ option. I was due to travel back to Heathrow from Hannover, but a last-minute change of plans saw me cancelling my ticket and booking a flight to Nurnberg with NFD. Outside the exhibition season, few people used the Nurnberg Flug Dienst daily shuttle to and from Hannover. One regular traveller was in the habit of welcoming other passengers onto his private aircraft.

The next morning at Mettingstrasse, I mentioned the travel information system to Rainer, explaining that Digithurst UK was trying to get into the point of sale market. He took me to Hans’ office and showed me a demonstration of an image database similar to the one I saw the previous afternoon. Actually, ‘PictureBook,’ the name Hans had given the software, was being used for that beta system at Hannover airport. After five weeks without a holiday, most Germans were desperately in need of a break and didn’t much care where they went, so long as it was hot. The holiday ‘vending machine’ let the customer choose the destination at the airport – incredibly last-minute.com. What PictureBook had, but our estate agent system did not, was an architecture based on hyperlinking, the technology which, in later years, became a fundamental component of the World Wide Web.

Rather than continue working on two separate software packages, Stephen and Hans decided PictureBook should become a joint development shared between the two Digithursts.

While Digithurst GmbH was moving away from Visual Basic as a programming language, Digithurst Ltd had stopped using C in favour of C++. PictureBook, therefore, became our first software to employ an object-orientated architecture. One of the important features of PictureBook was the dynamic ordering of information. The author could create pages containing moving video, text and static images, then design a template page that acted as a container for information defined when the publication was accessed by the reader. This enabled PictureBook to create subsets of large volumes of stored data …

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... (An extract from The Ghost in the Labyrinth by Peter Kruger)


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