last updated: 11/09/03

ABRA Use Cases

Live, current examples: In the works: Long-term and possible applications:
Websites updated via Email:

The Blog is a popular feature of many modern websites. However the time overhead for finding and loading the correct page, logging in, and making entries is several minutes daily. By simply sending an email, or in some cases forwarding one, and adding a few keywords, the site can be updated automatically. This is not limited to blog-type sites, the keywords in the email can refer to any field in any table of the database.

I currently maintain both SoAZforEdwards.com and AmericansforEdwards.com in this manner, forwarding emails (with minimal editing) from many sources to build the site content. In some cases the actual page content comes from the email, in other cases it is simply a link with additional associated data. The emails have the form

...unformatted text...
cat: [familiar handle]
title: [any text title]
url: [http://site.com]
...unformatted text...

or

..unwanted, unformatted text...
cat: [familiar handle]
title: [any text title]
#%begin content:
...desired, unformatted text to be saved and linked to...

or

...misc text...
cat: [handle]
title: [my title]
tablename:field: [data]
tablename:field2: [data]
#%begin tablename:textfield:
...text to be entered in specific field...

The sites themselves are mainly static but pull in the data thru php functions and a user-defined template.

The format accepted in the email is intentionally as readable and human-friendly as possible while being robustly embedded in large amounts of ordinary text. Other application-specific formats/filters could be applied.


Maintaining a Category Hierarchy

Although many popular sites offer a 'My' feature, they do not reach the level of personalization that Abra does. The primary links and words on the sites are user-defined and have specific meanings to the user. The 'MyABRA' page may combine links to local files with private financial information (my budget),user-defined categories of interest, categorized remote links to any available resource, text notes and working files, links to password-protected databases with specific default views, and links to cgi resources with specific filters to apply.

In addition, links may be 'related' to known categories, such as specific Dmoz entries or even Dewey Decimal numbers. This will allow users to share information and views on a specific subject.

Each link has a title but also can have multiple 'handles', or quick reference terms.

Users may enter data via a web form, via email, or by editing text files that have been previously entered into the Abra system. For example, a user may email themselves a quick note of the form

cat: ideasforfuture
handle: bizcafe
title: A Business Environment & Support System for Home Workers
%#begin content:
More than just cafe where computers, printers & equipment can be rented - provide networking groups,
infrastructure for producing product quickly.  Simple products such as children's books, toys, catalogs,
websites, etc have availble templates already.  Let person buy a membership and receive support for
producing and marketing their product, possibly with cafe owning a share.  

Also a cafe that has coffee, meeting rooms, and nice equipment for use by members or for-pay.  
There is a primitive interface already in use, please ask for password.