The new Alife Database is a successor to the first Alife Database. Unlike the first version, it is not specifically oriented towards online experimentation and code sharing. It is a much larger and more comprehensive database, where the data is automatically gathered by an intelligent search bot that scans the world wide web for Alife related pages. Since the gathering process is automatic, it is inevitable that a certain percentage of the records will turn out to be irrelevant. However, the searching capabilities of the database should make it is easy to filter the displayed data.
Database built by robot
The data is gathered by a net searching software robot. This Search Bot (Macrobot) scans the WWW and collects Alife related pages, according to specified keywords. When a suitable page is found, its meta-tags are analyzed and their content inserted into the appropriate fields of the database, while its first few lines are inserted into the page description field. The search bot then outputs its results to a program that creates both the data files for the searchable-database applet (InfoBook), and the Html version of the database.
Select and open (or double-click) any of the categories in the left panel (with the + prefix) to open the category's list of records
Click on any item in the in the left-panel record list to view its data
Reset the right panel by pressing the Clear button.
Enter any words (or search strings, or partial words) in one or more of the boxes in the right panel.
Hit the Search button.
The left panel is mainly used for viewing or scrolling through the list of categories or records. Once a list is displayed (by selecting the Open or Search button), the Prev/Next buttons can be used to scroll through the records in it. When categories are displayed (entries with a + sign attached), selecting an item and pressing the open button (or double-clicking the item) will open the list of records for the selected category. When the records themselves are displayed, the selected record data will be displayed in the right panel.
The right panel displays detailed information about a record in the database. There are two pages of information per each record.
Title: The page title
Desc: The description field contains the first few lines of the page text
Last/Modify: Two date fields, the first ("Load" on the left) indicates when the page has been added to the database, the second ("Modify" on the right) shows when the page was last modified.
Keywords: If the page contains its own keywords (in its Meta tags), these keywords will be displayed. Otherwise, the default category keywords are shown.
URL: The page URL address.
The second page contains a list of all the information contained in the page Meta tags. Common fields are: URL, Title, Description, Keywords, Loading Date, Last Modified, Author, Email etc. Some of these fields are displayed in the first page too.
Search: Searches the database for records that contain the strings appearing in the various fields when the Search button is pressed.
Clear: Clears (erases) all fields. Should be used prior to entering new search criteria.
Go to URL: Navigates to the URL address of the current (displayed) record.
Checkbox and Radio buttons
Search-All Checkbox: When checked, all the categories will be searched. When unchecked, only the displayed category will be searched.
Page 1/Page 2 radio buttons: Switches between first and second pages of the current record.
Required: All records that have the word Alife in their title, and were last modified in 1998.
Do: Press Clear, enter the word Alife in the Title box and the word 1998 in the Last-Modified box (the right one of the Load/Modify dates pair), check the Search All checkbox and press Search.
Required: All records in the Artificial Life category that contain the word Links in their title and the word Resources in their Description Field.
Do: Select Artificial Life category in the left panel (by double-click or Click+Open), press Clear, enter the word Links in the Title box and the word Resources in the Desc. box, uncheck the Search All checkbox and press Search.
Required: All records by the author whose email address contains the string aridolan (this is me).
Do: Select Page 2 by clicking the appropriate radio button, press Clear, enter the string aridolan in the box, check the Search All checkbox and press Search
Required: All records by Israeli authors that were loaded into the Alife Database in 1998.
Do: Press Clear, enter 1998 in the Load date field (the left one of the Load/Modify pair), go to Page 2 and enter the string .il, check the Search All checkbox and press Search.
Unlike the previous version, this version of the database does not support an entry form. The database entries are gathered automatically by a searching bot. The database will be updated periodically, and data will be added or updated according to what the search bot will find. In order to enter an entry to the database, a web page must appear relatively high in the major search engines (e.g. Alta-Vista, Excite, Infoseek, Hotbot, MetaCrawler), when searched for the category name (e.g. "Artificial Life" or "Genetic Algorithms"). The actual data that is entered into the database can be controlled by modifying the page Meta tags (e.g. title, keywords, author, description etc.) and the first few lines of the page text.
Html Version of the Database
The database can also be displayed as a set of Html pages. This version is mainly intended for use with browsers that do not support Java applets, but it might be convenient for anyone as an alternative way to browse the database. The data is the same in both versions.
Database Size and Load Times
The database, as implemented on the net, consists of several files (one for each category), the size of each is around 50-100Kb. Loading a new category takes the required time for such a file, but once it is loaded, browsing and searching should be fast. The applet itself is about 75Kb, and requires it own loading time.
Download the Database
The Html version of the database can be downloaded, and browsed locally with any browser. The applet version is based on a commercial product (InfoBook). Anyone having InfoBook can download the Html file and the data files and use the applet locally. The database will be updated periodically, so re-download it from time to time.
Feedback and Suggestions
The purpose of this database is to serve the Alife community on the web. I shall be glad to receive any comments or suggestions that can make the database more useful. In particular, if you think a new category is justifiable, please suggest it.