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A brief history of Approach User Support:

John Brown

Approach User Support

I started the Approach Users Mailing list, along with the FAQ and newsletter, in April 1995 while I was living in Vancouver Canada. I was frustrated by the lack of online services for Approach at that time, and decided that the best way to get the help I wanted was to create a mailing list. Initially I ran the list manually out of my email box while I assessed the demand for such a service. Once subscriptions passed 50 I began to search for a mailing list server willing to host the list. The search ended when Larry Stephens of Indiana University Risk Management offered to host the list on their MAISER mail server.

In early 1997 I was successful in getting the FAQ approved by the *.answers moderators. This meant that from that time on the FAQ has been automatically distributed and stored in FAQ archives all around the world. Some archives also produced a HTML version of the FAQ. Later that year I started up the AUMLNEWS mailing list to distribute the newsletter to people who were not subscribers of the Approach User Mailing List.

In 1997 I moved to back to my homeland of Australia and commenced a Bachelor of Science degree at the Australian National University. This web page started out as an assignment for Introduction to Information Systems.

While working on that assignment I got an email one day saying that the MAISER mailing list server I had been using had been permanently taken off line without warning! All of a sudden the mailing lists didn't exist any more! The Information Technology Services at Australian National University (ANU) came to the rescue and the lists were soon operating again on their LISTPROC mailing list server.

The next major development happened in late 1999 when I first put up a rudimentary web version of the FAQ. This was followed by a vastly improved version in 2001, as well as a new Rich Text Format (.rtf) version and an more rudimentary. Since this time all version of the FAQ are created from the same database of articles by a program written in LotusScript.

In 2002, IT Services at ANU commence operation of a Mailman list server, and the Approach lists were amongst the first list to move to the new server. This meant that for the first time users were able to subscribe, unsubscribe and change their personal options via the web (Listproc required commands sent in emails). The Approach User Support homepage was also redesigned, but maintained a very simple utilitarian style.

My enthusiasm and ability to update the FAQ had wained during 2002/3 due to other interests, and I was thinking of giving it away. But in November 2003, Sue Sloan of XpertSS.com stepped in to save the day and began updating the FAQ as required. Thanks Sue!

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