The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) has appointed Martin Hensel to chair its newly created Compact Disc Data Format Committee. The group's first meeting was held in December in Washington, DC. The standard is expected to specify a logical file structure that will enable electronic publishers to master a single compact disc and know that replicated copies will be readable on most compact disc players, computer hardware, and computer operating systems. It will also give software developers uniform file environments in which to design and implement applications; and manufacturers of disc players the guidelines to write a single version of file server software. Mastering services will also be able to validate replicated copies of compact discs using the directory and other standard information elements to verify accurate placement of data on the discs.
The committee will seek to devise a structure for the directory and other information on the discs; specifically the location and format of bootstrap blocks containing application-specific information including: title and description of contents, character sets used for contents, designation when the disc is part of a set, logical block size, length and format of file names, location and minimum contents of the directory to the files, and location and minimum contents of the attribute fields associated with each file.
Electronic publishers and librarians contacted at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting appeared to be quite supportive of standards development in this area, but there was also some opposition to drafting a standard at this time. The argument is that the absence of standards encourages manufacturers to continually seek improvements in technology. If standards are set too soon, development may be constrained.
[Contact: National Information Standards Organization (Z39), National Bureau of Standards, Admin. 101, Library El06, Gaithersburg, MD 20899.]