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NIST to make popular tech reports machine readable

The National Institute for Standards and Technology released a new draft white paper outlining best practices for secure software development. The document outlines 19 practices, such as conducting regular code reviews, defining security requirements ahead of software development and reusing existing, well-secured software.

The white paper's broad audience consists of commercial software producers, regardless of size, sector or level of maturity, as well as software consumers, both in federal government agencies and other organizations.

Like most NIST documents, it was released as a PDF and will have wide distribution. From 2015-2018, over 16,000 publications were downloaded 14,947,770 times, with  5,401,421 of the downloads between January-September 2018 alone, NIST said.

As the NIST reports are published only as PDFs, however, they are not machine-readable, nor are they full-text searchable. That means they cannot be easily be repurposed, shared across online platforms or read by those with visual and learning impairments using accessibility software.

To remedy that issue, the standards organization issued a solicitation for publishing software that will convert its Microsoft Word and XML reports to multiple formats that will be accessible to people and programs.

The solution must be able to take Word and XML files and convert them to files compatible with Adobe InDesign while using the current NIST workflow and a desktop computer. The solution must also convert files to Section 508-compliant PDFs, print-quality PDFs, HTML and accompanying CSS files, DAISY digital talking book XML files and e-book files.

"NIST has made great strides in making NIST data and software both digitally accessible and machine readable on data.gov and data.nist.gov," the solicitation stated. "The same efforts should be applied to the NIST reports."

Quotations are due July 11. Read the solicitation here.

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