A user-centred approach to managing public knowledge facilitates equitable access to information via the Internet. The development and application of standards and guidelines for document management and web site usability is central to The Regional Institute's technical agenda.
In the electronic environment, the author is the publisher. By standardising the structure of information in its source format, typically Microsoft Word, authors are able to automate and distribute the task of bringing the continuum of public knowledge together in a way that meets the needs of different user groups from nuclear physicists and cell biologists to farmers and rural health care workers.
The Regional Institute is working with a number of academic and research organisations to develop guidelines and templates for authors working in Microsoft Word. An automated "Word to Web" publishing system allows documents to be formatted and archived in standardised Microsoft Word templates and delivered via the Internet in open HTML format.
We use a fruit-packing analogy to describe the "Word to Web" publishing system (see www.regional.org.au/au/asa/2001/5/a/johnson.htm. Most of the effort required to share information in electronic format occurs at the source (typically in Microsoft Word).
A template is applied to automate the output to HTML in a standard (Unix) directory structure. Standard navigation features and site structure are automatically incorporated in the HTML publication. A consistent look and feel or theme is applied to each publication. Graphic design, often the most expensive part of any publishing, is minimised by using a templated approach based on basic, web-friendly colours and low resolution images.
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