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CD-ROM Publishing Pros and Cons


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These concepts are my own personal professional opinions and do not necessarily reflect the policy of the USGS.  There are USGS publishing standards under development that are available on the web from the USGS Regional Office of Scientific Publications (OSP).  I have printed copies in my office that I can share with anyone who would like to read a paper copy.  I have also developed a document that outlines our methods of publishing information that is produced within the Coastal and Marine Geology (CMG) Program.

Our program has helped to develop CD-ROM publishing standards by working closely with the Reston Regional OSP office and in particular Dave Traudt, who is the CD-ROM specialist. Dave and I co-authored the SIGCAT/GRIPS'95 CD-ROM plus others and although he may claim no responsibility he still plays a key role in the publication of most CD-ROM's generated by the USGS.

The first CD-ROM produced by this program was the Geologic Map of the Sea Floor in Western Massachusetts Bay (DDS-3). This CD-ROM publication had an in-house developed software package called Geographic Information Visualization (GIV) written and developed by Russ Ambroziak. GIV was used to map the digital sidescan-sonar images, bathymetry contours, coastlines, sample sites, photographs, and tracklines as selectable overlays in a geographic projection. The layers also included a geologic interpretation of the sonar map represented as colored polygons, the area of which was calculated by the software.

Another publication that used the same software and layout was the CD-ROM Atlas of the Deepwater Parts of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone in the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea (DDS-15). During the development of DDS-15, this center acquired cd-recordable (cd-r) technology to augment the production of prototype CD-ROM's for data archive and publication. The first CD-ROM's designed here were developed in a DOS environment and generally were designed for use in DOS with DOS software. Although the file structure adhered to the ISO-9660 standard, which allows for mounting the CD-ROM to most operating systems, problems were often encountered with UNIX or MAC systems. We have been using this technology for over five years and we still have difficulty with the use of the ISO-9660 file naming conventions and the way different operating systems deal with it. Despite these difficulties the CD-ROM technology has proven to be robust and extremely reliable for archiving information. CD-ROM continues to be the media of choice for mainstream data storage and distribution.

The cd-r technology is quick and easy however the product is not as widely usable as the manufactured CD-ROM due to variations in the dyes used and the variability in the response of the cd-r laser. Manufactured CD-ROM's are punched, thus the quality control for guaranteeing the duplicity of the data is more consistent. The current versions of cd-r technology is configurable in many software environments and there is room for error if the cd-r user is not careful. The original DOS recorders were reliable however they were slow and awkward to use. The new windows systems are streamlined, fast, and easy to use but also easy to make mistakes in data content and structure. My advice is to master from a CD-ROM image that is created from the virtual disk layout. That way the user essentially creates a disk image of the CD-ROM and then makes copies of this image. The new writers are fast enough (4x) to write cd-r media from a virtual image however if the source data is not available to the cd-r write buffer continuously it is possible to experience a buffer under-run and in that case a cd-r "dud" is created and typically must be discarded. The cost of cd-r media is now down to approximately ~$1/each so it is relatively inexpensive.

The cd-r media is available in the USGS Woods Hole Field Center stock room, along with adhesive labels which can be printed in color and placed on the CD-ROM media. We have sample templates available in Corel format along with clipart from the USGS and other government, state, and local agencies.

Our in house developed resource for electronic publications is available as a guide to provide an overview of the how, what and why for electronic publishing of data collected by CMG research activities.

For further information feel free to send e-mail or call me at 508-457-2280 and I would be happy to share what I know and provide advice on CD-ROM content design and CD-ROM mastering and publishing.   Assistance for CD-ROM mastering at the CMG center in Woods Hole can be had from the Sea Floor Mapping group by contacting one of the following specialists:

    Bill Danforth    - 508-457-2274
    Jane Denny        - 508-457-2311
    Dave Foster       - 508-457-2271
    Chris Polloni   - 508-457-2280
    Glynn Williams-508-457-2290
Our primary CD/DVD-ROM publishing resource at USGS is Dave Traudt, who can be reached at  (303)236-4715.
For advice and design solutions we our fortunate to have Dr. Jerry McFaul, who is also a member of the Board at DVDA as Vice President, Government


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