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GCN : December 2012
GCN DECEMBER 2012 • GCN.COM 27 official documents published by GPO. The transition to a new composition system while maintaining a demanding produc- tion schedule will be challenging, however. "You're bringing a new system into a functioning production environment," Hoffman said. "The deadlines don't stop." FIRST STEPS IN ROLL-OUT The first phase of the transition will be an in- house proof-of-concept to test the new XML workflow, said Matt Landgraf, lead process planner at GPO. A core staff will be trained on the new system to produce copies of legis- lation from the House and Senate, while also doing their "day jobs" of publishing. "We chose congressional bills to start with because they are being authored on the Hill in XML, so that's a good first step," Landgraf said. When that process is working smoothly bills will be published online using XPP and new products, including the Congres- sional Record and the Federal Register, will transition to the new system. But that probably will not happen until sometime next year. The GPO has been adopting digital printing processes and electronic publish- ing for the past several decades, and today many of its most-accessed documents are available online through the Federal Digi- tal System (FDsys). It also has agreements with a number of distributors to publish documents as electronic books in formats for popular e-readers. The composition engine is the software that applies styles such as fonts, page pa- rameters and links in the format for a doc- ument in electronic form. 212,000 LINES OF CODE Microcomp is a batch processing system that actually is a collection of 30 programs of more than 212,000 lines of code. Some 700 related applications and utilities, such as translation tools and delivery tools, have been developed to sustain it as GPO's production and publishing requirements have evolved. Most copy comes to GPO in Microsoft Word format, but also in hard copy, Por- table Document Format and ASCII text in a variety of forms, including XML tagging. The House and Senate have standardized on XML for producing documents, and ef- forts were made to modify Microcomp to process XML. Eventually it was decided to just translate XML documents into other formats for Microcomp in the short run and to add XML to finished documents afterwards for publishing. The long-term plan was to completely replace Microcomp when possible. Planning for the Composition System Replacement program began in 2006. XPP eventually was selected as the re- placement. It will accept XML documents directly, apply formatting from a library of styles and produce a PDF document that can be used for online access and for printing. Hoffman said the throughput for the tool is high enough to accommodate a printer with hundreds of products being turned around on a daily schedule, and it includes APIs for Web access so it can be used remotely. Eventually, as the new composition engine comes into use throughout GPO, all documents will be converted to XML before moving into XPP. Because docu- ments now are being published in XML, end users of GPO systems should not see any differences. "We will be able to automate a lot of things that are done manually now," Bender said, and that includes such things as adding references to PDF documents. • "They are using an assembly line made for Edsels, and are still getting cars out...But the world changes." --- JOHN HOFFMAN, PRINCIPAL PROJECT MANAGER, SDL In its 150-year history, the Government Printing O ce has seen publishing technol- ogy shift from cold type and ink on paper to digital media and electronic documents. Davita Vance-Cooks, GPO s acting public printer and the first woman to hold that position, said the expectations of customer agencies are changing rapidly in a world in which information increasingly is created, disseminated and stored electronically. "Our customers are involved in the digital world and understand the platform," Vance-Cooks said. "It is important that we have the capability to do everything. That is critical to our survival at GPO." The move to digital publishing began about 20 years ago with the GPO Access website, which has since been replaced by the Federal Digital System. FDsys provides permanent digital access to authoritative documents that have been electronically signed by the public printer, and there now is a move toward making this information more easily accessible through mobile devices. "We re very interested in application development," Vance-Cooks said. GPO released its first mobile app in November 2011. The Mobile Member Guide is a directory of House and Senate members for the 112th Congress that can be searched by name or state or browsed by chamber and party. It is available as a free download for major mobile platforms, including iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry and Android devices. In January 2012, the Library of Congress released an iPad app for the daily Congres- sional Record. It already is available in digital format through GPO s Federal Digital System. "You are going to see a lot more application development from us," Vance-Cooks said. Slightly more than 70 percent of GPO s $90.7 million budget for the remainder of fiscal 2012 was slated for the preparation of electronic files that are used for both digital access and traditional printing. GPO also will continue to expand the online collections available on FDsys.