Web publishing simplified
- By Eric Budke
- May 01, 2000
Government Webmasters often are faced with the task of moving agency documents
in a variety of formats to World Wide Web sites. Inso Corp.'s Outside-In
Server eliminates the need to code such documents for HTML before placing
them on the Web by converting files on the fly as users request them.
We tested the Outside-In Server primarily with documents created using Microsoft
Corp. Office applications. The product converted the files to HTML quickly
and effectively as long as we viewed them with Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
With the Outside-In server administrator, you can either give all documents
a common format by applying a Web page template or you can download the
pages in their original formats, such as Microsoft Word. If you choose to
serve the documents in the original, non-HTML version, it is up to your
browser to format them correctly. If you are using Internet Explorer, it
will open Microsoft Office documents within the browser if you have Office
Unfortunately, this didn't work when we tried it with Netscape Communication
Corp.'s Navigator, which could be a problem for government agencies that
have a lot of employees using Navigator.
When using the template option, all graphical additions to documents,
such as backgrounds, are ignored and replaced with the images defined in
the template. This can be very valuable for an intranet server where the
focus is on delivery speed and making documents look like they fit into
a cohesive Web site.
Outside-In smoothly handled whatever we threw at it, including tables.
Using the sample templates, the Outside-In Server easily managed TIFF images
and other file formats that are not standard Web fare.
Outside-In also eliminates a frequent problem that occurs when you combine
converted documents by multiple authors the use of duplicate file names.
Outside-In handles all document conversion and object and file renaming
on the server.
Outside-In does have a few limitations. First, it does not support Unix
servers only Windows NT. And its backward compatibility with Web server
software, such as the popular Apache Web server, is limited, so make sure
you closely check the list of products supported.
Also, while the server easily converted most documents, Outside-In's filters
did have problems with certain formatting in Microsoft Word. For example,
bulleted sections and text before and after the bulleted area were repeatedly
In short, Outside-In is a very useful product for small workgroup environments
in which documents are shared and files are updated frequently. For documents
that are going to be static for a long period of time, however, it seems
more effective to permanently convert the documents to HTML.
Budke is a principal consultant at Foundstone Inc. He can be reached at