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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 characters the 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 (CERN/CN/UCO/160).

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.

next up previous
Next: Trans-European Research and Up: Communications and Networks Previous: Communications and Networks

Janne Saarela
Tue May 23 09:56:57 METDST 1995