Project ELVYN: Implementing an Electronic Version of a Journal


Project ELVYN is a research project funded by the British Library Research and Development Department (BLR&DD) in cooperation with the Institute of Physics Publishers (IoPP) to look at how publishers and libraries can work together to provide an electronic version of a printed journal. The project involves a number of academic institutions in the UK and Europe: IoPP offered to make all issues of the journal Modelling and Simulation in Materials Science and Engineering (MSMSE) available in electronic form to the members of the project. The offered formats were SGML, PostScript and plain TeX. It was up to the individual libraries to ascertain which format was best for them and to devise their own delivery strategy. The libraries also had to attempt to recruit users who would find the journal useful and would be willing to use an electronic version (not always an easy task!).

At Loughborough we looked at the offered formats and decided to adopt the SGML format and use the IoPP's DTD to convert the SGML documents into HTML documents for viewing using standard World Wide Web. To accomplish this we used Klaus Harbo's Copenhagen SGML Tool (CoST). The use of HTML and the WWW fitted in with the change that was occurring on campus at the time to make more information available over the network using the Web and hypertext. The MSMSE journal contains a lot of mathematics which the current HTML markup has trouble handling. We got round this by using small inlined X bitmaps generated from the TeX source of the maths in a similar manner to Nikos Drakos's <> LaTeX2HTML software.

The software distribution of the ELVYN system developed at LUT (which includes the CoST systems, sgmls, tcl and [incr tcl] as well as the ELVYN specific processing scripts) is also available online (warning: this is a single 22Mb file compressed tar file which expands out considerably. Its only been tested on Sun workstations running SunOS 4.1.3 and includes NO SGML source files as they are IoPP copyrighted material. However you might find it useful to just have the CoST processing script to see how it all works).

As well as the technical side of things, the project has investigated the costs involved in setting up such an electronic version of a journal as a production service (as opposed to the research funded prototype that we produced). The full details of this will appear in the final report on the project (see below).


The whole project will soon generate a BLR&DD technical report which I hope to put up here as soon as its officially available. We've also presented some papers at conferences and articles to appear in some journals. The publicly available ones are currently:

Prototype Service

For users who have authorised access to a host on the Loughborough University of Technology campus network, there is access to the full prototype WWW service. Other sites in the project have their own services (see your library for details). For sites not taking part in the project we have a single demo article from volume 1, issue 3 of MSMSE.


Invariably people eventually ask why the project was called "ELVYN". The official story is that it stands for "ELectronic Versions, whY Not?". Of course it wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that most of the project meetings that took place at Loughborough had a meal in the Elvyn Richards Bar...