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XWHO - CERN's Extended Phone Book Service

  Bernd Pollermann CN/DCI

The xwho service is one of the most frequently used services, and yet a large number of users are not fully aware of how to use it, what is offered, the mechanisms behind it, and what they should/could do if things go wrong. In this CNL article I will describe the various ways of using this service and what you can expect to get out of it.

How to use the xwho service?

For everybody: via the web

The easiest, most general, platform-independent and most complete way is to use xwho via the web-browsers Netscape or Mosaic starting from the URL:

It is therefore the recommended way of using the xwho service.

Access is done from the CERN home page by clicking on ``Directories (phone & email, services & people)'', or from your bookmarks (after having inserted the above mentioned URL).

For line mode users on UNIX: via the xwho command

Although it is very easy to use the xwho service via the web it does not satisfy the needs of all users in all situations. Some users don't want to start a Netscape or Mosaic session just to get somebody's mail, or only have a simple line mode terminal available.

For these cases we propose the line mode command xwho. It can be used without parameters, in which case it offers a panel to be filled. It can also be used with parameters as this example shows:

xwho bernd cn

finds all the people called Bernd and are in the division CN. It displays a first-level list with the full names etc. To get more information about a person (eg. his/her email address), move the cursor to the family name in this list and press RETURN.

For experienced UNIX users or programmers: via the phone command

The phone command is even more direct than the xwho command in the sense that it has only one level of ouput. This means that information such as mail-addresses or accounts can be obtained immediately, without going through a second step. In addition you can define the meaning of your search terms via tags. Example:

phone -afs bernd -MAIL

gives you the e-mail of the person who has an afs account 'bernd'. When you are using tags you are also allowed to use the wildcard character `*' to indicate missing characters. Example:

phone -surname "PO*" -firstname "*ND"

will show you all the people whose surname starts with 'PO' and whose firstname ends with 'ND'. Please note that you must enclose the strings containing an '*' in doublequotes. This one-level output of phone makes it very easy to use phone in a program, eg. to create a list of mail-addresses for a group of people. Simple queries such as ``phone bernd cn'' are, of course, also possible.

For more details, please consult the man page.

What is offered by the xwho service?

Personal phone book

Apart from the obvious things, e.g. people's phone numbers, addresses (building and office numbers) and e-mail addresses, xwho you can also get their accounts for each central service and related information: `uid',`gid' and whether an account is `blocked', `pending' or `reserved'. Please note: account information is not given to users from outside CERN.

Additional features include access to the CERN map showing where somebody's office is, and - if available - to her/his homepage.

Analytical phone book

The main purpose of the analytical phone book (yellow pages) is to give access to phone numbers of services and, in many cases, to their home pages.

Search terms for the analytical phone book are always entered into the long text window with the title: ``Personal and Analytical phone book combined''.

`nice support', `tape service', `cn secretariat', `beam diagnostic' will all lead to entries which not only show you the phone numbers, but also point to the home pages of the services with detailed information, so that - hopefully - you don't even need to phone ...

A lot of additional information is available via the yellow pages but most users are unaware of its existence. Please be more courageous and try to find more of the useful stuff such as:

area codes
e.g. Palermo, Singapore or Indonesia
e.g. Yachting, Cricket, Badminton (these and others have home pages)
conference rooms
e.g. conference rooms, AS conference room
fax numbers
e.g. ECP fax, SL fax
and many other things
e.g. Banks, PTT, customs
Please note: For the time being there is no French version of the yellow pages. However, there is a good chance that a French search term will work. Example: `customs' and `douane' should produce the same result.

For info-providers: How to refer to a person from a web-page

All important web-pages should be signed by the person responsible for them by using the URL:

where ccid is the Computer Centre ID of the account holder. By doing so you have a reference which is

The old reference, will still be accepted for at least another six months but please start changing the references already now!

For more detail the article under ``'': How to reference a (set of) persons in the phone book.

To appear in the next CNL:

In the next CNL I will describe the mechanisms/data behind xwho and what to do if things go wrong.

next up previous
Next: Java WorkShop - A Graphic Development Environment for Java Up: cnl224.html Previous: New WWW Interface to the Accounting Services