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Version 1.0 of EAD SGML DTD Now Available

Announcement to Creators of Archival Finding Aids

After several years of intensive experimentation and testing, the developers of the Encoded Archival Description are pleased to announce the availability of Version 1.0 of the EAD SGML/XML DTD and related files. This is the first production release of the EAD DTD. Version 1.0 incorporates a variety of enhancements requested during experimentation with the "beta" test version of the EAD DTD. During the two-year beta test, a wide range of users experimented with the EAD DTD. Their input was important for determining the final shape of this implementation of SGML.

Version 1.0 of the EAD DTD is designed to function as both an SGML and XML DTD. It conforms to all SGML (ISO:8879) specifications. It has been thoroughly tested against SP, the mostly widely used SGML validating parser, as well as with a wide variety of existing SGML software. By default, the EAD DTD and EADGRP DTD are configured to function as SGML DTDs. The EAD and EADGRP DTDs have also been validated using existing XML validating parsers. To be used as XML DTDs, both EAD and EADGRP have "switches" for turning off features used only in SGML applications, and turning on features used on in XML applications. Instructions for using these "switches" are contained in the DTDs themselves. A more detailed technical overview of the DTD is being developed, and will be made available at this site when completed.

Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), as applied in this suite of DTD's and related files, is already revolutionizing the world of finding aids by providing a single standardized encoding through which archival descriptions can be exchanged and used. It may also simplify the process of creating machine-readable finding aids in the future as the use of SGML tools becomes more widespread and better understood.

As you begin to implement this version of the EAD DTD, keep in mind that it is the product of a lengthy development effort during which many options and models were considered. It may not reflect the exact structure of the finding aids that you currently produce, but it should provide elements into which you can fit the information you currently capture.

The EAD DTD was designed to be somewhat prescriptive, providing and in some cases requiring that finding aids be structured in a particular way. This will occasionally result in differences between the structure of an encoded archival description and existing printed finding aids when they are used as the source for content.

What You Need To Do:

To start creating your own Encoded Archival Descriptions, you will need various SGML files and support documents. Most are available to you electronically via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) from an anonymous file server maintained by the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Documents, such as the EAD Tag Library, are currently available only in print, but Web versions will be available in the near future for consultation. Due to the length of the EAD Tag Library, we recommend you purchase a copy of the printed document which is available from the Society of American Archivists. It should greatly facilitate your use of the EAD DTD.

In order to download the EAD DTD and other machine-readable documents, all you need is access to the Internet and electronic transfer software (FTP). The host domain of LC's FTP server is: ftp.loc.gov

    Once an FTP session is initiated, you will be prompted for a name. You should enter:
  1. anonymous
  2. When you are prompted for a password, enter your Internet address, or name.
  3. At the FTP> prompt, change to the EAD subdirectory by entering the command:
  4. cd pub/ead
    NOTE: The character between the subdirectory names is a forward slash!
  5. Entering the command "dir" will return to you a list of the files available in the EAD subdirectory.

The files you should transfer using the "get" command are listed below. The "get" command should copy a file to the default directory on the machine you are using locally. Most of the files should be transferred as ASCII files, which is the default transfer mode for most FTP applications. Some of these files will need to be transferred in BINARY mode. To change to binary mode during an FTP session, enter the command "bin". The command "asc" can be used to return to ASCII mode. NOTE: For some FTP applications, the transfer mode is automatically set based on the file extension found during transfer.

If you do not have access to FTP, you may request a diskette containing these files by contacting the Library of Congress, Network Development and MARC Standards Office (NDMSO), who will be acting as the maintenance agency for this standard.

We encourage you to join the large number of users of the EAD DTD if you are not already among that growing group. We also look forward to getting feedback from you as you make use of Version 1.0 for the first time. The EAD DTD is not set in stone but will be enhanced in the future based on the experiences of its users. If you know of anyone else interested in this effort, encourage them to download Version 1.0 and subscribe to the EAD electronic forum. Subscriptions to the "EAD" electronic forum should be sent to "listserv@loc.gov".

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Comments: lcweb@loc.gov (08/28/98)