In addition to the typical HTML foundation, many web hosting companies also offer MySQL and PHP. These hosts can now place The Traverser as an additional layer on top of that, enabling their customers to efficiently set up relational database applications, and share the data with anyone in the world.
Monetary income from The Traverser can be generated in a number of ways. The simplest way, from a web host's perspective, would be to offer MySQL and PHP, charge as normal, and let the user install The Traverser in their space. To make it easier for the customer, however, hosts can pre-install The Traverser and issue passwords to database administrators, then check the size of the MySQL database, and charge based on the amount of disk space used. Yet another way might be to provide useful reference content and charge a fraction of a cent for each page visited.
Because The Traverser is released under the GNU GPL (General Public License), it can be freely obtained and modified, and you can apply a financial charge when the program is run. You can also charge if people want to download a copy of the source code from your site. If The Traverser itself is modified and re-released, however, it must be under the GNU GPL.
The Traverser comes with five security levels. A web host's customer is granted the topmost administrator level. The administrator then in turn grants privileges to other users of a database. Some users can design tables and relate them together, while others are allowed to edit the data in the tables. There is also a read-only level, and a level that allows users to create records, but not delete them.
The content possibilities for The Traverser are as varied as the world around us. It lends itself best to extended hierarchies of information. For example, a sports statistics database might contain the following chain of tables: league, division, team, player, and year. A geographic database might contain country, state-province, and city; and a scientific database might contain cluster, galaxy, star, planet, moon, compound, molecule, element, particle, and quark. Surfing to get at the information you need becomes tighter than a full-blown web engine search.
The Traverser also lends itself well in many-to-many relationships such as class-student, order-product, and flag-color.
"I would set up some of these databases myself," said Tom Cleland, author of The Traverser, "but I feel my role is to hang back and address any issues that may arise."
Another factor limiting Cleland's involvement is a recent job change. He is currently working as a street canvasser for an environmental organization.
"In these urgent times, I'm ready to take a break from programming," said Cleland. "I am hopeful that others will take up the baton and carry on the spirit of The Traverser."