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SDSS and the World Wide Web

The SDSS is a world-wide collaboration with contributors from around the United States, Italy, and Japan. Collaborators need to have easy access to current information about the project and the on-going software development. The World Wide Web (WWW) [2] and HTML (HyperText Markup Language [3]) meet this need admirably.

Early in 1993, the collaboration established the World Wide Web as the method of information dissemination. The Survey was one of the early users of WWW. It has relied on outside software for browsers and infrastructure, like server frameworks. Much of the Survey documentation is written in HTML, rather than being converted from another format. Because it was an early user of HTML, and because HTML is the primary language for much of our documentation, we developed, and continue to use several custom tools.

Our use of the Web can be thought of as providing access to three distinct types of information: 1) the infrastructure of the project, 2) the documentation of actual software used throughout the project, and 3) access to Survey databases. The layout of Web pages is not meant to allow the public to easily surf. Rather, the pages are laid out to permit collaborators to find information efficiently. In keeping with this goal, there is less emphasis on glitz and more on content.