Day 3 – Applying the Latest Technologies for Electronic Publications


Tuesday, June 15 - Mechanical Engineering Bldg. (ME)

University of Virginia Summer Publishing Institute


David Beacom, Robert Thibadeau, John Unsworth




In this session, faculty will provide and discuss examples of different production tools and publishing techniques.  In the course of this discussion, the seminar will discuss what makes sense to do in-house, what might be contracted out, what may need to be custom-built, and what tools are available off the shelf.  Sample tools (document management systems, sgml editors, image editing tools, multimedia plug-ins)  will be demonstrated and discussed, with particular focus on the data formats they use and how one goes about choosing among standards.

9-10:30AM – General Session  (ME 205)

Introduction to the instructors

Instructors will introduce themselves and describe their work and professional background.  David Beacom is Director of Basal Publishing for the National Geographic Society; Robert Thibadeau is Principal Research Scientist, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University; John Unsworth is Director of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities and Associate Professor of English at the University of Virginia. This panel embodies a range of experience that stretches from cutting-edge research, leading-edge application, and day-to-day decision-making for publications.

Publishing and Distribution Channels: A Review

Panel and participants will work together to ensure a common vocabulary for the day’s discussions; David Beacom will lead the discussion.

                Tools for Production

Panel will introduce current—and coming—development tools. Examples will include document management systems, sgml editors, image editing tools, multimedia applications. Discussion will focus on such pivotal issues as data-formats, choosing among standards. Examples will be presented of how fundamental development questions—what’s in house? what’s contracted-out? what’s custom-built? what’s off-the-shelf?—are resolved in diverse situations. Robert Thibadeau and John Unsworth will lead the discussion.


10:30-10:40am – Refreshment Break

10:40-11:30am – General Session


        Tools for Production (continued until 11:00)


        Case Study

Software support vanishes for a basic development tool. A national publisher, having built dozens of titles using said tool, is presented with the threat of having to re-program every title and destroy hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of existing inventory. Was there a better choice to have made? How did the scenario play out? David Beacom will lead the discussion.

11:30-1:00pm – Lunch, Garden Terrace, Colonnade Club

1:30-2:30pm – General Session (ME205)

In the afternoon session, we will begin by discussing a publishing principle—varying the richness and fidelity of data to suit the context—and its implications for production and delivery tools, for the selection of data standards, and for the aesthetic qualities of electronic publications.   (Robert Thibadeau will lead the discussion)


2:30-4:30pm – Breakout Session  (ME 205, 214, 215)

Examples (one faculty member per breakout group)

Best-and worst-case examples of electronic publications.  Participants will provide examples and lead discussion. Faculty will offer analysis and judgment criteria—including trade-offs made, underlying technologies, economy and/or ease of production, etc.


4:30-5:30pm – Summaries and Conclusions


Faculty and seminar participants will jointly analyze and discuss the deliberate or accidental factors that formed the publications presented in the breakout sessions and the conclusions to be drawn from these examples.

Required Readings:


Each seminar participant is asked to come to this day’s sessions with an example of an electronic publication (CD or Web-based) that exemplifies either the best or the worst of the medium, in the opinion of the participant.  During the afternoon session, each participant will be asked to present the example with a brief analysis of its strengths or weaknesses.


Instructors’ Web Sites:

CNET’s Best of 1998 Web Tools:

Document Management Systems:



Web-oriented Database Systems:



Publishing SGML to the Web:




Document Conversion Tools:

                Commercial:         (Now Free)

Editing Tools:



Low Cost:      



Parsers, etc.:


Imaging and Multimedia Tools:

                Looksee: Resources for Image-Based Humanities Computing








CGI Tools:    


Surveys, Reports, White Papers, Journals/Magazines Etc.:

SGML-XML Compendium:

XML W3C Home Page: