CERN Telecom Board Discusses Document Exchange
The CERN Technical Board on Telecommunications recently discussed the issue of electronic exchange of formatted documents. The minutes of that discussion follow.
``In all areas of activity at CERN a large and growing number of heavily
formatted documents are handled electronically. These documents may
include diagrams, charts, graphs, and other non-textual items. They are
produced by various different word processing systems running on several
different platforms. The electronic exchange of these documents is
non-trivial. Although this is a problem faced by many organizations the
situation at CERN is probably quite extreme. This is for various reasons.
We have a relatively large number of users, using a variety of systems; we
also have to communicate with many external institutes over which we have,
naturally, little control. A multinational company, on the other hand,
would impose a single system everywhere, and most communication would be
closed within the company. There are two types of situation which can be
identified. The first is the exchange of documents produced by the same
word processing package. This is in effect binary file transfer. This
can be handled in several different ways. For example some email packages
allow enclosures. In all cases where it is possible to exchange ASCII
UUencode/UUdecode packages can be used, although it is
conceded that this is not user-friendly. The second situation is when the
documents are produced by different word processors possibly also running
on different platforms. Currently in these situations ad-hoc solutions
have to be found, possibly including conversion to a third format such as
PostScript. In spite of these problems being serious it is felt that it
is not CERN's role to solve them. Commercial solutions are being
developed, and the situation will be much easier in the next year or so as
more and more packages become MIME-compliant. In conclusion therefore it
is not proposed that CERN spend significant effort on this problem, but
that we await commercial solutions.''
A document on this topic is available on paper only (!) from the UCO
with reference DocInter
MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) is the Internet standard for electronic mail including formats other than plain text.
For information, the Telecom Board is chaired by P.G.Innocenti, its Secretary is R.Parker (SL), and the other members are W.Blum (PPE), B.Carpenter (CN), P.Ciriani (ST) and A.Petrilli (AS). C.Jones (CN) also participated in the above discussion.