Section 1 mentioned that the APIB serves as the central information registry for an integrated software tool suite for AP developers. This tool suite, the Application Protocol Development Environment (APDE), is already having an impact on the development and implementation of STEP APs. Portions of the APDE that are presently operational are being widely used by AP developers and implementors. For example, the EXPRESS Server receives hundreds of requests per month for remote execution of NIST-developed tools, and use of the tools is resulting in shorter AP development times[SAUDER]. Also, ambiguities and inconsistencies in the STEP and ISO documentation guidelines have been exposed through the effort of developing the STEP DTDs[PHIL]. Since the STEP DTDs provide a complete and unambiguous specification of AP and IR document structure, AP and IR documents authored in SGML will be free of the inconsistencies and documentation guidelines violations that plague the APs and IRs in the STEP initial release.
The APIB gateway provides a convenient way for AP developers to access the existing body of information in STEP. The APIB gateway combines the representational power of SGML with the ease of electronic delivery of HTML, resulting in an easy-to-use system that is robust and extendible. It appears to users as if they are ``connected'' to the APIB at all times. In reality, they are only using APIB services during the brief intervals between when they issue CGI requests through HTML forms and when the APIB's retrieval engine returns the data necessary to generate a web page. Therefore, the APIB gateway can easily accommodate many users at a time. As the variety and number of items in the APIB continues to grow, the APIB gateway will become an increasingly valuable resource to the STEP community.
The STEP documents in the APIB are copyrighted by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Therefore, access to the APIB Gateway is limited to developers of ISO standards. Requests for further information should be directed to the author.
This document was written in SGML using the DocBook DTD[DOCB]. It was translated to LaTeX[LAMP] using the NSGMLS and SGMLSpm software tools mentioned in Section 4. The author thanks this document's NIST reviewers -- Mary Mitchell, Don Libes, and Paul Over -- for their comments and corrections.