[Mirror from: http://www.doe.gov/html/osti/eei/reading/bdsgml94.html - Trip Report]
SGML '94 is the second in the series of annual SGML conferences that I have attended. The conference is organized by the Graphic Communications Association (GCA) and is conducted annually. This year's conference was held in Tyson's Corner, Virginia. The conference, as in previous years, has doubled in growth annually; last years conference was attended by approximately 400 people and this years conference grew to 750 attendees. I was pleased to see a decidedly Department of Energy presence at this years conference; Idaho National Energy Laboratory, Argonne, Boeing Computer Services (Hanford), Battelle (Richland) to name a few, were seen among the attendees. The hotel, and the organizers, were not quite prepared for the large numbers that attended, but handled the additional numbers with finesse.
Rather than provide a detailed account of the conference as a whole, I intend to address the highlights of the conference that I believe have relevance to the Department of Energy's Electronic Exchange Initiative.
Mr. Hardin made it very clear that NCSA intends to take WWW down the path of international standards. Future iterations of the WWW client Mosaic will include a browser that will allow the access, retrieval and viewing of fully compliant Standard Generalized Markup Language (ISO - 8879) documents using any Document Type Definition. What this means to the Department of Energy and the Electronic Exchange Initiative is that we will now have the capability to access and view Scientific and Technical Information over the Internet in the way that author intended the information to be presented; complex document structures, multiple graphic formats, complex hyperlink schemes, mathematics, chemistry, tables and scientific notation based upon international standards will now be accessible and viewable. Unlike the current Hypertext Markup Language DTD, where only one simple document structure is possible, this new capability, combined with the Departments Technical Reports DTD, will open the way to full expression of our information over the Internet.
Mr. Hardin also cited some interesting statistics during the keynote address. He indicated that if the traffic on the Internet increases at its current pace, it will exceed that of telephonic voice traffic in three years. He also described some additional functionality that will not only improve the feasibility of SGML on the Internet, but will provide an infrastructure for commercialized publishing on the net. These improvements include improved security features, the addition of a means for tracking "digital Cash" for commercial transactions, and improvements in access and retrieval.
FUNCTION HTML.DTD REPORTS.DTD Graphics Formats GIF BMP,TIF,WCM,GIF Complex Document Structures NO YES Complex Hyperlink Paths NO YES International Standard NO YES Use any DTD NO YES ISO Standard for Special Characters, Math, Chemistry NO YES Tables NO YES
I arranged a visit to the Government Printing Office and invited Shannon Savage, Argonne, and Theresa Squires, Idaho National Energy Laboratory, and Norm Smith to attend as well. Mr. Jim Byers, Chief, In-House Applications Section , had graciously invited me to GPO to discuss his efforts in implementing SGML at the GPO. GPO first used SGML as part of a Congressional Record CD-ROM pilot project during 1990-1991. Their goal in the adoption of SGML was to determine if they could build a more context sensitive retrieval capability and to use a single source file for the creation of paper and electronic documents.. With the success of that project and the enaction of the GOP Electronic Access Act of 1993, GPO embarked upon providing a system of online access to the Congressional Record, the Federal Register and other appropriate publications. In addition, as required by this act, they will maintain an electronic directory of Federal electronic information as well as operate a facility for Federal electronic information. GPO has, in fact, developed Document Type Definitions (DTDs) for the Federal Register and Congressional Record and will be ready to implement and make available these rather voluminous and daily published documents (greater than a Megabyte each) in paper and electronic format this fiscal year.
Training continues to be a critical component of their strategy for implementation. GPO has developed a training program that consists of a general introduction as well as a Data Analysis and Element Tagging section using SGML. GPO does not plan to stop with the Federal Register and the Congressional Record; their intent is to make SGML their publishing standard which means that contracting organizations will be expected to provide their information encoded in SGML as well.
Bottom line with GPO is that they see the use of SGML as a means of "faster and more cost effective production of multiple information products and easier interchange of documents into or across different environments".
The growth of SGML '94 is indicative of the continued and expanding interest in SGML in government and private industry. It has provided an opportunity to receive first hand exposure to new technical developments and trends in the vendor community and implementors in both the private and government sectors.