This information is from a (trustworthy) friend who used to develop Rainman content. If it's wrong, it's probably my fault. There's no Rainman info on the web, and I don't have anywhere to verify this.

Rainmain is AOL's content-management and display technology. It stands for Remote Automated Information Manager. I have heard that the syntax for bold and italic is identical to HTML (probably, the convention came from SGML). Overall, however, Rainman is language of a differenty time, and a different form than HTML. AOL was designed to be usable on a 9600 baud modem, and it showed. Everything that can be compressed is compressed. Rainman has special tools for compressing its graphics. Everything that can be done client-side is. Also, content producers have a much greater degree of control than HTML. When coding in Rainman, you know exactly the size, in pixels, of the box your content will be displayed in. There is also less control, because certain things have to be placed at certain pre-designated spots in the template (my friend was not a designer, so this is fuzzy). At any rate, designers hate the limitations of Rainman - it always makes stuff look terrible. The compression doesn't help any. Their only consolation can be found in comparison to HTML - unlike HTML, at least it looks uniformly and consistently terrible.

Rainman pages were based around templates, which have to be installed by AOL itself - that is, content creators design templates, and send them to AOL for installation. These templates contain fields, which the content providers fills. The templates also have certain data that's not directly editable, such as background images. When you enter a new area on AOL, and have to download new material, it usually includes the Rainman templates for that area.

Now, all objects in Rainman have IDs. Back in the day, just knowing an ID was enough to get you to the associated object. This was read-only access. Obviously, once this leaked out, it was abused, so permissions were added. There were always permissions to upload data - this is done by screen name, and these permissions have to be initially granted by AOL corporation. Now, those who gain these permissions can bestow a limited form of them on others. The rest of this paragraph should be taken as at least 50% speculation. Somehow (fuzziness here), this is both connected to and orthogonal to the overhead account permissions - that is, some content providers outside AOL can actually give out overhead accounts (at the rate of one per week). The new users can then be given access to edit Rainman content. This is minor editing - that is, they can fill fields in templates, but I don't think they can submit new template requests.

I am looking for more information about Rainman - it will be reborn into a new body, some day, and I want to learn from its strengths and weaknesses.

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