[Pipet Devel] Narval?

Martijn Faassen faassen at vet.uu.nl
Sun Oct 1 23:32:03 EDT 2000

J.W. Bizzaro wrote:
> Thanks for the link to Narval.  I was not aware of it.

I just was browsing and ran into the two almost simultaneously (I'd
seen a few references to Piper before). 

> There seem to be many similarities between Narval and Piper, for instance, the
> use of existing resources on the Internet and a way to graphically connect
> these resources.
> However, it seems Narval is primarily an agent system, meaning there is a
> "software agent" that goes out on the Internet looking for things of interest
> to the user.  Piper, on the other hand, is primarily a data flow system,
> meaning the user knows what s/he wants, connects the appropriate resources,
> and then starts the flow of data.

Right, though I don't know enough of either system, I know that there
are differences. I don't really know what either are. :)

While the focus of Narval seems to be more towards software agent usage
than data-transformation, it does seem to be (from a glance through the
manual) that a user connects resources in Narval as well. Perhaps take
a look at the screenshots.

I don't think there's any autonomous agent in Narval that gets transmitted
onto the net; it's a 'personal agent' in the sense that it's an assistent,
not in the sense that it's a knowbot type thing. To quote from the Narval

In clear terms, Narval is an original computing engine that can execute user defined tasks. To do this, Narval behaves as a conductor piloting the
existing softwares and computer devices in order to perform each of the necessary elementary actions. Therefore, for instance, to download the
weather forecast every morning (as the user asked to), Narval will run the Internet connection, get the web site address from the bookmarks,
download the correct web page located at this address, save it on the disk and make it available from the browser home page.

Thus, Narval philosophy is not to replace the existent but to integrate all its functionalities to ease their execution and their sequencing while hiding
their own complexity.

> It is possible that Piper can use agents in the future, but that is well into
> the future, since we have some very difficult tasks still to accomplish.  I
> don't know if Narval would like to collaborate on this, but it seems they have
> their goal already very well defined.

The Narval project looks like a pretty new project though. And though
there may be a difference in focus, look at the technological
similarities -- connecting resources into programs or recipies, use of
XML as a backend. Use of Python. Use of a GUI to do this kind of thing.
I think there are synergies both in the focus (which is I think still
fairly close to Piper), and definitely the technology.



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