The New ASTM Portals
Enhancing and Speeding Up Access to Technical Information
Comprehensive. Collaborative. Easy.
That’s the point of an ASTM International Web portal, which enables a company to log in to one platform and access all of its ASTM standards and Standards Engineering Digital Library subscriptions, as well as other services.
With a streamlined platform and new taxonomy (available in Spanish, Portuguese and Russian, in addition to English), the portals accelerate your ability to:
- Search, find and use content;
- Download, print and compare that content;
- Bookmark, annotate and share content;
- Access training, translations, videos and more.
Customers connect to their company’s customized portal, where they can search or browse their tailored content or use other helpful headings: Portal Contents, Tool Center and Help Center to quickly access the information they need.
Standards and More
The standards a company subscribes to are found under the “Portal Contents” heading, where hyperlinks quickly connect users to their tailored content. This content can include standards from the Annual Book of ASTM Standards and custom collections of standards, the Standards and Engineering Digital Library, and documents from other standards development organizations. This can also include standards available in Spanish, Russian or Japanese plus standards from other groups such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
Standards can also be found using the search and browse functions. The search function enables users to quickly refine and narrow results to be more exact. These refinements can be made according to topic or designation, category and date range to locate the exact document needed. In addition, a browse capability allows the user to look more generally at volumes and sections of the Annual Book of ASTM Standards, general industry topic categories or alphanumeric lists of standards.
Beth Mayo-Yurek, quality management/quality engineer at Granite Construction, Sacramento, Calif., says that she finds the search function useful: “It’s helpful to be able to perform a search and find the standard you are looking for quickly. A secondary feature that is helpful is to see all of the standards that might reference the one you are looking for.”
Related ASTM technical information — manuals, symposia papers, journal papers, data series — is categorized in the search results as well, and can be further sorted by topic and date to focus on the most relevant results.
A standard can be downloaded as a PDF, or printed in HTML text or PDF formats.
And, as an added benefit, a “Version Comparison” button will display the current and most recent versions with the differences color-coded.
“We have found the version comparison a very useful tool,” says Geri-Ann Deputy, general manager, Laboratory Technical Services, Americas Support for INTERTEK Commodities, Essington, Pa. “This gives us the opportunity to evaluate the updates quickly to see what changes need to be made.”
A portal “Tool Center” provides additional functions that facilitate quick access to and sharing of essential information. The “Tool Center” includes options such as:
- Standards Shared with Me;
- Alerts; and
- Create a Group.
The capability of collaborating with others through the “Tool Center” begins with the “Create a Group” option. Colleagues in different geographical locations can be organized into groups and information distributed with the “Share with Group” button. Or, the group can be emailed without leaving the portal.
Jennifer Couch, laboratory quality and compliance manager, CTD NANLA, Inspectorate America Corp., Houston, Texas, says, “ASTM’s solution also facilitates the creation of special task forces around specific standards driving the collaboration and information exchange that is critical across our company.”
Also through the “Tool Center,” users can make annotations in standards. The author’s name, date and time are stamped on the annotation, and the standards contents list shows where the annotation is located. The annotation can be private or shared with a group chosen from the portal members. Files can also be attached here.
The “Alerts” choice in the “Tool Center” brings your Standards Tracker preferences into the portal, along with the ability to create or change an alert, chosen either through “Standards Tracked” or “Interest Area(s) Tracked” choices. Any activity with your selected standards will cause an informative alert to be sent.
“My Bookmarks” enables users to “tag” specific standards and are listed in alphanumeric order for quick access.
Both annotations and bookmarks can be moved to new versions of standards when they become available, or they can be preserved with the version where they were created.
A “Help Center” offers tips and training for portal users plus an email form for support. Support is also available by contacting Jill Walters, ASTM account education manager (phone: 610-832-9648).
A 20-minute demo can be found at “User Training Videos” that covers the portal capabilities in detail; it’s a comprehensive overview of everything the portal contains. The demo shows the portal in action: how a search works, what the standards information looks like, how the tools further streamline your work processes and more.
The “Search Tips” button opens a PDF file that provides pointers for more effective searching and browsing as well as summaries of the information found in a specific portal.
A link to “MyASTM” is also included in the help center for easy navigation to member-related work.
This article appears in the issue of Standardization News.