The National Institute of Standards and Technology is seeking industrial and academic partners to join a cooperative research consortium to develop technology for "virtual libraries" from which users could access and exchange documents electronically as they appear in published form.
Participants who join the consortium, announced in the Jan. 4, 1994, Federal Register will work to develop open systems technologies that could increase the interoperability of diverse computer hardware, software and communications systems.
A "virtual library" would allow desktop computer users to access library documents on a computer network and view them as they appear in the original document, including page format. A research article that contains a map, for example, would appear on the screen with the illustration intact.
Electronic document interchange technologies can improve the use of information technology in conducting government programs and communicating information to the public. Technologies developed as a result of this research also should help computer users in business, research and education to exchange information electronically by overcoming the limitations of incompatible computer systems, which can cripple productivity.
One company, Adobe Systems Incorporated, has already agreed to join NIST in this research effort. Through a cooperative research and development agreement, NIST and Adobe are collaborating to review, test and develop two supplements for critical technologies: the PostScript language, which is used to describe the appearance of a document to an output device, and Portable Document Format, which is based on the PostScript language and is used for viewing and annotating documents on both printing and display devices. NIST also will perform an organization-wide test of Adobe's Acrobat, a family of software products that work together to enable electronic document communication.
The consortium will be organized according to the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986, which allows federal laboratories, including NIST, to enter into cooperative research agreements with other organizations. According to the law, NIST may contribute personnel, equipment and facilities, but no direct funding, to the cooperative research program.
Organizations interested in joining the consortium should contact Dr. Lawrence A. Welsch, B254 Technology Bldg., Computer Systems Laboratory, NIST, Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-0001, (301) 975-3345, fax: (301) 926-3696. The deadline for sign-up is March XX, 1994.
As a non-regulatory agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, NIST promotes U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards.