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I would tend to agree that utilizing the benefits of SGML in displaying
finding aids online is important, but perhaps the options are not just 1.
to display a static HTML version OR 2. an SGML version which requires
additional software from the viewer. Some server-side presentation packages
for displaying finding aids (and SGML in general) on the web do a fairly
good job of making use of most of the benefits of SGML by converting chunks
of the finding aid to HTML on the fly. In particular I'm thinking of the
Berkeley Library's deployment of DynaWeb, and our own Museum's use of Isite
(see http://www.bampfa.berkeley.edu/search/collectionguides.html). Isite is
even free.

In our presentation of finding aids online I specifically did not want the
user to have to get and install additional software so as to open up our
guides to the world beyond professional scholars, and yet also to take
advantage of our SGML coding. To this latter end I was able to display the
heirarchical nature of the records, allow users to select chunks of the
finding aid rather than the entire thing, allow the container list to be
browsed in small bits so as not to overwhelm the user, and allow the user
to conduct further searches within a singular finding aid. And of course we
did not have to manualy create the HTML :) For us the broad access is
important, so this route made sense.


Richard Rinehart              | Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive
Systems Manager & Education   | University of California
Technology Specialist         | 2625 Durant, Berkeley, CA 94720-2250
[log in to unmask] | http://www.bampfa.berkeley.edu/
& Board of Directors, Museum Computer Network, http://world.std.com/~mcn/


>PanoramaFree for Win3.1 can be ftp'd from:
>ftp://ftp.ncsa.uiuc.edu/Web/Mosaic/Windows/v2.1.1/viewers/
>The filename is panofr10.exe
>   In response to M.F. Nickerson's query, I agree that some folks
>can't or won't want to bother with installing a viewer.  However,
>for many researchers, the advantages to viewing a finding aid from
>a viewer such as Panorama are well worth the effort of downloading
>and configuring it.  I think it's nice to have the option of
>delivering a finding aid in HTML, but I wouldn't want to deny folks
>the other option of viewing the SGML document if they want to see
>it that way.  It's pretty frustrating to be forced to view a
>"dumbed-down" version of a finding aid....
>    Until we know what XML will bring to the picture, I would
>recommend making finding aids available in both formats.
>Susan von Salis
>Radcliffe College