Structured Document Interchange, Sharing And Storing.

20th September 1994

This document is a call for tender for work in the area of Structured Document Interchange, Sharing and Storing. If you are interested in submitting a proposal contact the contract manager.

Project Manager

Jeremy Sharp


Users of the network are now dependent on being able to interchange information with colleagues in machine readable form. Owners of large databases of information now deposit these on servers on the network and provide remote access to them. It is an unfortunate fact that for complete and easy interchange, a simple encoding of the document is still guaranteed method (using primitive ASCII character set). However, the great majority of users actually employ sophisticated word processors or type setters in producing their documents, and financial information is best manipulated in one of the many advanced spreadsheet packages available. Users would like to exchange and share such structured information with others without having to lower the quality to that of simple ASCII, or without having to impose one specific package on colleagues.


To ascertain possible solutions to this problem, including the evaluation of existing techniques, whether de facto or formally standardized and if possible to establish a working multi-site pilot.

Definition of a document

A document is a collection of human readable information. In the electronic form a document can include text, images, moving images and sound.


Document interchange and storage methods need to be able to handle different character sets, mathematical symbols etc.

In the storage and interchange of documents could compression techniques be used?

Currently putting documents on an infoserver means storing them in a variety of formats. If the user wants to view them on an info server then they must have the correct type of viewer.


Stage 1: Reports on the current techniques or other possible solutions.

Stage 2: Multi-site, multi-vendor pilot report.

Stage 1

Carry out an investigation of the Document Interchange Standards - ODA (Office Document Architecture), SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language), PDF (Portable Document Format), HTML (Hypertext Markup Language).

Investigate other proprietary methods of Document Interchange - Postcript, Bitmap, PCL (Printer Control Language), RTF (Rich Text Format).

Identify both standard and proprietary Document Interchange products currently available (Tools to produce HTML).

Carry out an investigation of the document storage and retrieval standards - DFR (Document filing and retrieval).

Investigate other proprietary methods of document storage and retrieval standards - Explode, Directory (X.500).

Investigate the UK Academic (JANET) communities requirements and current mechanisms for Document Interchange and storing.


Six man months

Stage 2

Carry out a Multi-site, Multi-vendor pilot based on the report from stage 1.

It is envisaged that the number of sites will not exceed five (for manageability) with one site taking the lead which will involve coordinating the pilot and editing the final report.

A Document storage and retrieval system should be implemented. Documents should be exchanged using a variety of methods - File Transfer, Electronic Mail, Fax (?), World Wide Web, Other?


Six months pilot, two man months report


Date for receiving proposals: 30th November 1994

Award of contract by: 31st December 1994

Jeremy Sharp, 20th September 1994