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URLs in IUCr Journals

To:       A.M. Glazer, chairman of IUCr promotions committee
From:     H.D. Flack
CC:       IUCr Electronic Publishing Committee

Dear Mike,

  Its a pity that I e-mail you on this topic after the ACA meeting where
you could have made all of the necessary consultations but things are
only gradually becoming clearer in my mind. As URLs clearly have a very
useful purpose in promotion/advertising, I need input from the
promotions/advertising experts so that a maximum effect is created
whilst keeping the technology as simple as possible. (I cc this message
to the EPC so they are all informed of the current state of my thoughts
on these matters - Brian (and probably Peter) will be unsurprised by my
remarks - owing to difficulties in the mirroring system a few weeks ago
I ended up understanding some more about the technology.

  [1] On the covers of the 6 IUCr journals, "short" URLs (e.g.
www.iucr.org/jac.html) are now being printed. I think that this is an
excellent idea. I've no idea who decided to do so, but congratulations
on the initiative. 

   Question [1a]. Is the form chosen for the URL the best from a
promotional point of view? I think not. I think it is correct to have
dropped the "http://" from the URL. It is not forbidden to ask the
question whether each journal should not have its own sldn i.e.
www.ActaCrystA.org for example. The marketing people would tell us that
we are marketing the journal and not the institution IUCr so it is the
correct way to go. Weighing things up I think that I am not in favour of
that course. So I am left with www.iucr.org/something. But what should
the something be? I suggest that instead of 
actaa.html -  ActaCrystA - would be much better or at a pinch
ActaCrystA.html
likewise:
ActaCrystB, ActaCrystC, ActaCrystD, JApplCryst, JSynchrotronRad
  N.B. At the moment www.iucr.org/jac.html does work, but
www.ZZ.iucr.org/jac.html does NOT work where ZZ is the country code of
one of the IUCr mirror sites: ZZ = { fr,  ch,  il,  se,  za,  us and
others in the pipeline}. Technically I think these could and should be
made to work. I do not at all like the idea that some things work on the
hub (www.iucr.org) but not on the mirrors. It creates confusion and
frustration. 

 [2]  Facing page 113 in J. Appl. Cryst. (1998) 31(2) are some ads. For
the G&B ad you will see an alternative choice for URL. Personally I
don't like the "http://" which is unnecessary, and I don't like the "_"
because it gets confused with "-" and lost in some screen displays. For
the IUCr ad, I would have preferred the black inclined box with white
lettering to contain:

     See the Journal of Synchrotron Radiation 
         at www.iucr.org/JSynchrotronRad  

 [3] On the back inside cover of  J. Appl. Cryst. (1998) 31(2) under the
"Notes for authors" the following URL is given: 
  "http://www.iucr.org/journals/jac/jacnotes.html".
I have no objection that the "http://" is included in this case as
clearly the URL is far too long to be memorized in any case. What I do
object to, however, is that this URL has been shortened from its full
form "http://www.iucr.org/iucr-top/journals/jac/jacnotes.html". The URL
as printed will work but the mirror site version
"http://www.ZZ.iucr.org/journals/jac/jacnotes.html" does not.  On the
other hand "http://www.ZZ.iucr.org/iucr-top/journals/jac/jacnotes.html"
does work. That the shortened form works on the hub is not without its
consequencies for the operation of the mirroring system. The hub file
system is more complicated and the mirrors contain duplicate copies of
some files. As I consider this totally unnecessary, I would like to
abolish the "shortened" URLs. 

Conclusions:
   The "short" URLs should be limited in number, the very best for
promotional/advertising purposes and work on the mirror sites.
   The shortened URLs, missing the "iucr-top/" should be banished
allowing the hub file system to be simplified. 
   From the users point of view, replacing a working URL
www.iucr.org/something by www.ZZ.iucr.org/something must work IN ALL
CASES (the two "something"s being identical).

Best wishes,
  Howard


-- 
Howard Flack        http://www.unige.ch/crystal/ahdf/Howard.Flack.html
Laboratoire de Cristallographie               Phone: 41 (22) 702 62 49
24 quai Ernest-Ansermet             mailto:Howard.Flack@cryst.unige.ch
CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland                   Fax: 41 (22) 781 21 92

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