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Upgraded Equipment Means Improved Web Publishing at The Tech

CORRECTION TO THIS ARTICLE: The July 6 version of this article misstated Jonathan T. Wang’s term as Technology Director. He held the office from May 2004–April 2005, not just Spring 2005. The article also incorrectly identified the processors in eMac computers; they are G4 processors, not G5 processors.
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The Tech has introduced a new internal editorial system with the publication of the July 6, 2005 issue. The system, based on InDesign and Smart Connection, replaces The Tech’s aging Quark Publishing System, and will allow much-needed improvements in the paper’s online presence, as well as its editorial processes.

Jonathan T. Wang ’05, The Tech’s technology director from May 2004 to April 2005, said that “this overhaul will primarily be seen in the Web site. Because the new software was designed after the Internet gained widespread popularity, we have far more flexibility.”

“In the past,” Wang said, “we had trouble delivering content to the Web in a timely fashion. Our new publishing system makes this task much easier.”

Producing HTML Web versions of the newspaper in the Quark system was a difficult process using a proprietary language that often required hours of manual attention. In the Smart Connection system, automation is possible in open, standard scripting languages, and production of the HTML Web version is expected to be simultaneous with the paper being sent to press, generally before 3 a.m. the day the paper is published.

For the foreseeable future, both HTML and PDF versions of the newspaper will be available online. With the renewed ability to produce online content, a redesign of the Web site is planned for the 2005-2006 academic year.

The new system utilizes Apple Macintosh computers running Adobe InDesign CS for layout, Adobe InCopy CS for writing and editing, and WoodWing Software’s Smart Connection Enterprise as a central database to glue the pieces together. It replaces a system based on Quark XPress 4.0 and Quark Publishing System version 2. The Tech has been using QPS for over a decade.

Smart Connection uses a central server based on open source software: MySQL, a database; Apache, a Web server; and PHP, a Web-scripting interface. Adobe InCopy documents are stored in an open XML format in the database. Because the server is open source, The Tech’s technology and production staff expect to greatly enhance and customize the system for their own use.

With the software upgrade, The Tech’s computers are finally running Mac OSX, Apple’s modern operating system that was not compatible with the old Quark-based editorial system. In the process, The Tech has upgraded to several dual-processor G5 Macs for layout work, as well as iMac G5s and eMac G4s for editorial work.

The Tech has been actively working to replace the Quark system for over a year, and went through several prolonged beta and evaluation exercises with multiple vendors before deciding on Smart Connection.