|Digital Production Processes for ASTM Publications
by Robert Dreyfuss
In this second of two articles (click here for part 1) on ASTMs Digital Path Initiative, Assistant Vice
President of Publishing Services Bob Dreyfuss describes digitized
production processes for ASTM standards and technical publications.
As explained in the previous article, the digital path defines
a process and a workflow. ASTM International actually has two
digital path projects developing simultaneously, one for standards
and one for technical papers. Both share many of the same attributes,
specifically using electronic workflows from idea inception through
distribution. Both have as their desired results the wider participation
within ASTM and the more rapid and more accurate dissemination
of published information.
At the heart of the digital path for standards is the database
that contains over 11,000 standards. The standards are stored
in a common format called SGML (standard generalized markup language).
Because of this common structure, ASTM can multipurpose the standards
to create a wide variety of products and services for its members
and customers. It has also allowed ASTM to reduce the cycle time
for standards publications after approval.
ASTM has selected Microsoft Word as its authoring tool for the
creation and revision of documents. ASTM has developed templates
to assist in developing new standards (see article by Kathy Peters and Richard Wilhelm in the October 2001 issue
of SN). These templates make it easier to develop standards that
conform to the requirements of the Form and Style for ASTM Standards
For revisions to standards, ASTM has made major improvements to
the tool that translates the standard from its database format
to Word. These modifications were made based on member feedback.
The new version has major enhancements to its equation, table,
figure, and special character handling routines. This will make
participation in the electronic balloting program much more efficient.
Under the workflows of four or five years ago, ASTM was limited
to the types of products and services it could offer with the
standards, basically print-based products. Even the CD products
and the Web offerings were scanned images of printed pages. With
the implementation of the digital path, we still have the printed
separates and the Annual Book of ASTM Standards, but ASTMs electronic
offerings have gone to true PDF files which are much smaller and
higher quality than the scanned images. Additionally, ASTM can
do spin-off publications more efficiently from the same data.
An example of this is the ASTM Dictionary of Engineering Science
and Technology, which was produced in half the time than it was
The next frontier for the standards will be to offer on-demand
publication of the separates in either hard copy or on CDs. These
products will complement WebDoxx, which allows individual standards
to be downloaded from the ASTM Web Site 24 hours a day, seven
days a week.
Following a parallel path to standards, ASTM is developing Word
templates for technical papers that will help authors conform
to ASTMs style and to expedite the publication of their articles
on the Web and in print. Some highlights of the technical paper
offerings are outlined below.
Web First Publishing
Currently, the official publication of all ASTMs technical papers
is the printed volume, whether that be a special technical publication
(STP) or one of ASTMs journals. In the case of the journals,
we put a PDF file of the paper online after it is published in
the printed journal. Under this approach, all the papers within
a collection, whether STP or journal, need to be completed before
the paper is published as part of the collection. ASTM is in the
process of revising its approach to the publication of technical
papers. In the future, ASTM will publish each paper as it is completed
on the Web, making the appearance of the paper on the Web the
official publication. The printed publication will be a reprint
of the papers on the Web. In 2001, Committee E08 on Fatigue and Fracture participated in the first prototype using
this new approach. The first papers were posted on the Web in
March 2001, while the printed STP 1413 was published in October
after all the papers in the collection cleared the peer-review
process. Beginning in July 2002, the Journal of Forensic Sciences
will follow the same approach. In all cases, the official, cited
papers will be the ones on the Web.
Another advantage of Web publishing is that ASTM can put color
illustrations on the Web, whereas printing in color involves much
higher cost which are borne by the authors. This means that some
illustrations and photographs will be color on the Web, but will
print in black and white.
Because authors will be encouraged to provide ASTM their papers
using templates specifically designed for this purpose, ASTM will
be able to edit the papers on-line and will be able to Web publish
the papers very quickly after the paper clears peer review.
In addition to being able to download technical papers from the
Web 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ASTM is investigating providing
an on-demand printing service, whereby the customer will be able
to order a single paper to be printed in hard copy or order a
bound collection of user-selected papers. This may either be all
the papers from a single symposium or could be technical papers
that appeared or will appear in several print publications. It
is the intention of this program to make the papers available
for on-demand delivery at the same time the paper is posted on
ASTM has made a continual commitment to stay abreast of the latest
publication technologies and implement those information technologies
that will provide the most advantages for both our members and
our customers. For example, technology allowing for online linking
of technical paper references to their respective sources recently
has been developed. ASTM is actively investigating this technology
to determine how it would apply to our technical publications.
The digital path is a road without end. //
Copyright 2002, ASTM