What’s on the Web?

The World Wide Web is the electronic equivalent of a library of books that have been scattered in a random fashion. Amongst all the chaff, however, there is a lot of wheat.

Many engineering magazines are now available on the World Wide Web, providing an up to date way for the engineer to find out the latest news. Some Web sites, such as The Engineer and Design Engineering have links to over 50 such publications.

Rather than trawl through hundreds of individual magazines, it’s often handy to able to access a Web site with access to thousands of published pages worldwide, even if you might have to pay a small fee to retrieve an article.

Located in Denver, Colorado, UnCover provides such a solution. UnCover contains brief descriptive information for over 7,000,000 articles which have appeared since the autumn of 1988. For a small fee, UnCover offers you the opportunity to order fax copies of the articles from this database. UnCover uses keyword access to article titles and summaries. Another library worth checking out is the Edinburgh Engineering Virtual Library. EEVL helps engineers to find relevant information on the Internet by maintaining a searchable catalogue of reviews and links to engineering Web sites, and provides targeted engineering search engines, indexes to print literature and other specialist information services.


If, on the other hand, you are interested in looking for US or European standards, a good place to start is the World Standards Services Network a network of publicly accessible World Wide Webservers of standards organisations around the world. Through the Web sites of its members, WSSN provides information on international, regional and national standardisation and related activities and services.

Direct links from the WSSN site are provided to the Web sites of the International Organisation for Standardisation, The International Electrotechnical Commission and the International Telecommunications Union.

For standards on the Internet, Normos boasts easy and fast access to all documents related to Internet engineering from any standards organization. It uses a relational database to keep track of relations between documents, authors, and standards.

For information on EMC, EMCnet boasts the singular goal of cataloguing all of the Internet’s EMC resources. Each linked site is reviewed for content and availability before being entered into the search engine.

Alternatively, you can search the BSI Standards Electronic Catalogue web site. Here, you can peek at synopses of any British standard that takes your fancy as well as seeing the price. If you are a BSI subscribing member, then once you reach the standard you are interested in, you can order it by clicking an ‘Order’ button on the page. If you are not, you can call the BSI sales department.

On the ETSI (The European Telecommunications Standards Institute) site, you can also search for specific documents relating to telecommunications: again, an outline of the standard together with a price (in Euros, of course) is shown.

If it is electrotechnology that you are interested in, then the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) site should prove of interest. The IEC is the international standards and conformity assessment body for all fields of electrotechnology.

On the IEC web site, you can find standards and other documents, as well as search the IEC databases. There is also a list of data relating to technical committees and subcommittees working in an enormous number of different areas from electric cables through to batteries. Once you have selected a generic category, you can drill down until you get the name of the individual standard you require, as well as the individual chairman and secretary of that standards group.


For the most useful information, you can expect to pay. Check out, for example, the Engineering Resource Center (ERC), a subscription-based service from Information Handling Services, an Englewood, Colorado-based outfit who claim to be the world’s largest supplier of technical and engineering information.

The Specs and Standards Service (SASS), available through the ERC, provides online access to military specifications and related documents, as well as commercial standards from US, international, and non-US national standards organisations. The SASS provides bibliographic data for over 350,000 standards from over 730 organizations from around the world. As a subscriber, you can also view complete pages from your browser.

But thatis not to say that there are no free sites that can be worthwhile. One absolute must for any design engineer to bookmark on his browser is the IBM Intellectual Property Network (IPN). This lets you search and view patent documents from the US and Europe as well as patent applications published by the World Intellectual Property Office.

Another key site is the Thomas Register of European Manufacturers a pan-European industrial buying guide that provides immediate access to 140,000 industrial suppliers throughout 17 European countries. The only requirement for this site is that you register.

One other recent directory is a Web version of the ProductLine enquiry service. The ProductLine concept is similar in concept to ‘Talking Yellow Pages’. Design engineers searching for a product or service in the UK that relates to engineering or materials handling can call a freephone number (0800 783 9521). ProductLine personnel then access any relevant details on their database and pass the information to the caller for free. Manufacturers pick up the cost by paying ProductLine to be included on the database. To complement the service, ProductLine’s developers have recently delivered a complementary service on the World Wide Web, too.