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IUCr 1997 Report - Sub-committee on Electronic Publishing, Dissemination and Storage of Information

The Committee has expended considerable effort during 1997 on the implementation and deployment of a web pan-crystallography information system which may be viewed at the URL: http://www.iucr.org/iucr-top/index.html and its mirror sites. The distributed sources of information for this system come from IUCr Commissions and Committees, IUCr conference organizers, IUCr in-house secretarial and journal editors, and the Sincris and CWW news resources. The web pages are given a unified appearance. Further contributions from sources of information of concern to the IUCr and of interest to crystallographers are always most welcome. Information can be obtained from the Chairman of this Committee. During its meeting in Lisbon in August 1997 the IUCr Executive Committee delegated editorial powers for IUCr web services to this Committee.

To assure a ready access world-wide to the pan-crystallography service, the Committee has elaborated a strategy of IUCr-accredited mirror sites. This policy was approved by the IUCr Executive Committee at its meeting in Lisbon in August 1997. The deployment of the mirror-site system depends on the good will and involvement of the IUCr members (i.e. the National Committees for Crystallography) in providing equipment with network connectivity to act as mirror sites for their country or region. Some regions of the world are inadequately covered at the moment depriving crystallographers of a very important resource. Administrative and technical information on forming and running an IUCr-accredited mirror site is available from the IUCr Executive Secretary. As part of this strategy for mirror sites, the IUCr has acquired the Internet second-level domain name iucr.org permitting a unified naming of Chester and the mirror sites; e.g. the web sites have the Internet names: www.iucr.org (IUCr offices, Chester, UK), www.fr.iucr.org (France), www.se.iucr.org (Sweden), www.us.iucr.org (USA), www.za.iucr.org (South Africa) and www.ch.iucr.org (Switzerland).

The Committee identified a need within the community for discussion forums operated by means of an e-mail list server. To this end the IUCr R&D group has sought out, implemented and tested software to meet this demand. The system offers web interfaces for dealing with administrative affairs and for viewing each list's archive. A policy document for on-line discussion groups has been formulated and submitted to the IUCr Executive Committee for approval. Full details may be obtained from URL: http://www.iucr.org/iucr-top/lists/ for those wishing to avail themselves of this service.

The electronic online distribution of the IUCr's six journals will require an infrastructure that the Chester office is probably not in a position to provide itself, indeed in the same way that the printing, mailing and subscription administration for the printed journals is sub-contracted. It may be that there is a distinct advantage in being associated with an electronic distribution service giving access to other related scientific journals. The Committee is active in surveying the market of service providers in this field. Work is continuing at the Managing Editor's office to develop the editorial processes involved in full-text SGML markup of the IUCr journals and other publications. This is an essential prerequisite for the supply of content to electronic online distribution processes. It is also a key to the database-driven integration of manuscript handling and refereeing. The Committee advises on and monitors this strategy.

The Tenth Edition of the World Directory of Crystallographers (WDC) has been published and is available in printed form. Individuals can purchase the directory from Kluwer Academic Publishers (price DFl 50); group purchases are also possible by contacting the IUCr Promotions Representative (as@iucr.org). For the online version of the WDC, tests have been undertaken using LDAP servers in order to benefit from the LDAP functionality now available in the most popular internet communication systems or web browsers. The Committee is currently involved in the elaboration of policy and technical documentation for the future development of the WDC to cover needs that have been identified.

A project has begun for the production of CD ROMs containing crystallographic information. This support is primarily intended for those scientists lacking suitable internet connection to avail themselves of the on-line services.

The Chair of the Committee visited the IUCr Chester offices in November 1997.

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