FOR TWO YEARS, PEOPLE HAVE BEEN USING DEDICATED PC programs called Web browsers to surf through millions of multimedia documents, or Web pages, stored on the Internet's World Wide Web. In general, all Web browsers are designed to display all Web pages. But now, other PC programs are reaching out to the Web to retrieve documents that have been prepared just for their use.
A good example is Mathcad, a program from MathSoft Inc. that helps scientists, engineers, and students do calculations and advanced mathematics. Instead of describing what you want done in a programming language, you can use standard math notation. Just enter a set of algebraic equations, for instance, and Mathcad will come up with all possible solutions. Now, by making the latest version of Mathcad "aware" of the Web, the company is encouraging professors and teachers to prepare lessons, quizzes, scientific papers, and other technical documents in Mathcad-compatible form and store them on the Web for public viewing. The result is, in essence, a global textbook and learning "space" created in Mathcad-compatible form. Plus, sharing Mathcad worksheets on the Web could help engineers trying to collaborate across distances or time zones.