It is reasonable to predict that the 1990s will see substantially increased use of terminology management software for the creation, maintenance, and use of terminology files. It is also reasonable to predict that no single software package or hardware platform will be used by all terminologists, technical writers, and translators. Unless users of different hardware and software systems can share the same terminology by exchanging terminology files, the difficulties inherent in the standardization of terminology will be exacerbated.
In order to determine the components that a universal interchange format would have to include in order to accommodate existing terminology databases, the authors examine the data categories used in a number of existing systems for the purpose of identifying common elements that can be incorporated into a universal interchange format. They also view proposed interchange formats and introduce Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML). Finally, the authors propose a model framework for implementing an interchange format within the SGML-based Text Encoding Initiative. In a section dedicated to future development, the authors outline the tasks that remain in order to document and fully implement this interchange format.