Stanford University

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NEWS RELEASE

04/18/94

CONTACT: Stanford University News Service (415) 723-2558

New Stanford information gateway, 'Portfolio,' to make formal debut

STANFORD -- Stanford University faculty, staff and students now have access to information resources stored on computers at Stanford and around the world via a new service called "Portfolio."

Portfolio, developed by the Stanford University Libraries and the Stanford Data Center, will be formally introduced to the community at a Libraries Information Fair Thursday and Friday, April 21-22.

Portfolio presents cataloged and managed collections of university information, including documents, publications, database queries, applications, library catalogs and gateways to the Internet.

According to project manager Ann Mueller, the Portfolio project is one of the first examples of the migration of Libraries and Information Resources (the vice provostial unit that includes both the Stanford University Libraries and the Data Center) from mainframe-based to networked-based technologies. It is built with standard marketplace tools and protocols.

While many of its features are still under construction, Portfolio's document collection currently contains hundreds of documents and publications contributed by major information providers on campus. In addition, Portfolio provides the ability to search and retrieve university resources using words in their title or description, or by searching the full text contents of the documents themselves.

Mueller said work is in progress with every major campus publisher to include their information in Portfolio. By the end of the year, this collection is expected to grow to several thousand resources.

Applications in the initial release include Stanford Travel Requests, Bookstore Ordering, Purchase Order information, "MajorQuest" (described below), as well as the multimedia guide to the Stanford University Libraries.

Portfolio comes with a software program for the Macintosh (a PC Windows version will come later) that enables users to browse through or search for information using the familiar Macintosh interface.

Packaged with the Macintosh program are a set of viewers that aid in viewing or printing text with special fonts or complex graphics; viewing images or video clips; or playing sounds.

Graphics have been greatly enhanced; people who have computers with adequate memory can view items ranging from interactive weather maps to the Dead Sea Scrolls.

About 300 faculty, students and staff have been testing Portfolio for the past 10 weeks, offering suggestions and documenting "bugs."

The Portfolio information environment is compatible, with some limitations, with most popular network navigational tools including Gopher+ and Mosaic.

The Portfolio "menu" includes the following categories: The Campus; The Classroom; The Community; Computing at Stanford; The Libraries; The Office; Research at Stanford; Student Life; and The World.

Within each of those categories, users will find a number of folders, and within those, more folders, directing them to the information and/or resources they need. Examples of what is contained:

  • The Campus has Academic Council announcements, the Administrative Guide, directories and telephone services, employment listings, the "Farm Almanac" on public safety, news, calendars and events, the policy on campus disruption, bookstore ordering and travel requests.
  • The Classroom contains the academic calendar, guidelines for writing academic recommendations, the Honor Code and an application called "MajorQuest," which helps undergraduates find information to help them choose a major.
  • The Community has miscellaneous community information and information on the Stanford Federal Credit Union.
  • Computing at Stanford has sections on electronic mail, Stanford Gopher servers, administrative computing, the Forsythe mainframe, networking services and virus protection. Also, users can download the MacSamson program for connecting to Forsythe from off campus.
  • The Libraries folder has catalogs and service guides for the Stanford University Libraries, including Folio and Socrates, and access to libraries at other universities. In a folder known as the Reference Room, there are electronic versions of the Oxford English Dictionary and Webster's.
  • The Office has academic and research policies and procedures, electronic versions of the "Around the Office" newsletter; and policies on health and safety, personnel, student employment, and governance and legal issues.
  • The Research at Stanford category is currently "under construction." It will eventually contain the Research Policy Handbook and information on sponsored projects and grants.
  • Student Life has information on academic careers, resources for foreign students, full text of the Fundamental Standard, and information on jobs and on student activities.
  • The World is the gateway to the Internet and enables people to link up with everything from NASA to MTV to the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Smithsonian Institution. Thousands of "information servers and "gophers" from around the world are available here, as are the campus-wide information systems of hundreds of other universities.

Portfolio includes a feature called the "bookmark." Users can identify the resources they plan to use most regularly and assign a "bookmark." Then, when they want to get to the resource, by using the bookmark command, they open the item in question automatically, without having to search or browse for that resource.

Mueller said Portfolio is being continually expanded and refined. Those using Portfolio are encouraged to offer their suggestions on ways the system could be improved or to let her know what additional items they would like to have access to in Portfolio.

Users can send e-mail to Portfolio@Stanford, phone 725-8181, or use the built-in "send suggestion" feature in the Macintosh version.

Those who have a Macintosh with System 7 and a connection to SUNet can obtain Portfolio by downloading it from the Stanford file server. For information on how to get Portfolio, send e-mail to Portfolio@Stanford, contact the local network administrator, department administrator, "expert partner" or resident computing consultant, or call the Data Center at 725-8181.

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