Web publishing simplified

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 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

installed.

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, although the server easily converted most documents, Outside-In's

filters had problems with certain formatting in Microsoft Word. For example,

bulleted sections and text before and after the bulleted area were repeatedly

misaligned.

In short, Outside-In is useful 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 time, it seems more effective to convert

the documents to HTML.

—Budke is a principal consultant at Foundstone Inc. He can be reached at

budke@foundstone.com.

REPORT CARD

Outside-In Server

Score: B

Inso Corp.

(312) 692-5100

www.outsideinserver.com

Price and Availability: Although it is not on the GSA schedule, Outside-In is available for$8,500 to government users, plus a 12 percent maintenance fee.

Remarks: Outside-In is an able, although rather high-priced, document-to-Webconversion server that is simple to install and use.

BY Eric Budke
June 5, 2000

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