The world of e-reference material for engineers is growing. We have previously written about Knovel Corp. (www.knovel.com), which has several hundred reference books on its Internet site (see Web Log, July 19, 2004). So does Engineering Village2 (www.engineeringvillage2.org). The latter, a platform provided by Elsevier Engineering Information (owned by Reed Elsevier, the parent company of Design News), is a kind of portal with its very own content. That content includes material on many different topics of interest to engineers.
For example, through the website you can access Compendexฎ, an eight million-record database referencing 5,000 engineering journals and conference materials. Another content source on Engineering Village2: Inspecฎ, a bibliographic database on physics, electronics, and computing. Also, you'll find GlobalSpec, Lexis Nexis, and information from the U.S. Patent Office, among other information and reference sources.
Earlier this year, Elsevier added Referex Engineering to Engineering Village2. It draws upon more than 300 of the company's technical and scientific book titles to provide a searchable reference database. Engineers can virtually thumb through the books or check the table of contents of any individual book, click on the chapter they're interested in, and go directly to a pdf of the chapter.
What if you don't know the book you want? No problem. Tell the database the technology you're interested in and it will tell you which chapters in which reference books in its file have the information you want. Additionally, the Referex database will show the results in order of the depth of content on the topic, so you'll know which sources offer the most information and are the best choice for getting the material or data you need.
Engineering Village2 is not free, however. Companies that want their engineers to be able to use it must pay a fee that's based on company size, among other things. The fee schedule starts at $4,000 for the whole company. But, there is a 30-day free trial that provides an opportunity to see what it's all about and whether the reference source would be useful for you and your engineering team.
And if you're in the mood for trying things, check out www.adobe.com. Of particular interest is a feature in the Acrobat product, version 7, which is due out soon. If you have Acrobat installed on your computer, you can do a one-click creation of a pdf of a Web page through Internet Explorer. All the links on the page will remain live in the pdf, which will sit on your local drive. That could come in handy if you want to keep a collection of data sheets on fasteners, or switches, or other components.
Additionally, within Explorer is an Adobe panel that enables you to see all the pdfs available on your system. You can categorize them by technology, and even add new Web pages when you find them, increasing the reference material available on your computer for solving specific design problems. In addition, Acrobat v. 7 will also enable you to capture a portion of a Web page rather than the entire page.
With these and other offerings, you never have to feel left out in the cold when it comes to reference material.
Reach Teague at firstname.lastname@example.org.