Evaluation of three electronic report processing systems for preparing hydrologic reports of the U.S Geological Survey, Water Resources Division

Open-File Report 89-576




In 1987, the Water Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey undertook three pilot projects to evaluate electronic report processing systems as a means to improve the quality and timeliness of reports pertaining to water resources investigations. The three projects selected for study included the use of the following configuration of software and hardware: Ventura Publisher software on an IBM model AT personal computer, PageMaker software on a Macintosh computer, and FrameMaker software on a Sun Microsystems workstation. The following assessment criteria were to be addressed in the pilot studies: The combined use of text, tables, and graphics; analysis of time; ease of learning; compatibility with the existing minicomputer system; and technical limitations. It was considered essential that the camera-ready copy produced be in a format suitable for publication. Visual improvement alone was not a consideration. This report consolidates and summarizes the findings of the electronic report processing pilot projects. Text and table files originating on the existing minicomputer system were successfully transformed to the electronic report processing systems in American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) format. Graphics prepared using a proprietary graphics software package were transferred to all the electronic report processing software through the use of Computer Graphic Metafiles. Graphics from other sources were entered into the systems by scanning paper images. Comparative analysis of time needed to process text and tables by the electronic report processing systems and by conventional methods indicated that, although more time is invested in creating the original page composition for an electronically processed report , substantial time is saved in producing subsequent reports because the format can be stored and re-used by electronic means as a template. Because of the more compact page layouts, costs of printing the reports were 15% to 25% less than costs of printing the reports prepared by conventional methods. Because the largest report workload in the offices conducting water resources investigations is preparation of Water-Resources Investigations Reports, Open-File Reports, and annual State Data Reports, the pilot studies only involved these projects. (USGS)

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Evaluation of three electronic report processing systems for preparing hydrologic reports of the U.S Geological Survey, Water Resources Division
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey ; Books and Open-File Reports Section [distributor],
66 p. :ill. ;28 cm.