Recommended Tools for IEEE 802 Standards Developers

So, you want to write standards in the IEEE 802 LMSC, huh? If so, you really need the set of hardware and software tools listed below. IEEE 802 does not provide these tools, you are expected to obtain them from your employer/organization or purchase them yourself.

In the list below, some tools are recommended for all participants in a given project, and some are essential only for chairs or editors, as indicated.

A laptop PC (chairs and editors)

All of the tools listed below can be hosted on a laptop personal computer, and most are available for both the Windows and Macintosh operating systems.

A laptop is an indispensible tool for a Working Group or Task Force chair or a document editor. You will need it for many tasks, including editing of draft documents, making presentations/reports, Internet access, and managing comments.

All participants may find it useful to bring their laptop PC to IEEE 802 meetings. However, all meeting attendees are advised to keep a close eye on their computers, as well as any other valuables. Don't leave them lying around in meeting rooms, and stash them away carefully in your hotel room, or check them into the hotel's safe storage, if available.

Adobe Framemaker (editors)

The IEEE staff uses Framemaker to prepare standards documents for publication. They chose this tool for a variety of reasons, the primary reason being that it is a very high quality document publishing tool which can readily handle large and complex documents with multiple chapters (clauses) with complex embedded graphics. It is supported on multiple platforms including Windows/NT, Macintosh, and Unix.

Editors working on IEEE 802 standards projects are strongly encouraged to produce their documents, including all embedded graphics, in Framemaker. While it is possible for the IEEE staff to perform the conversion from other word processing formats to Framemaker, this process is prone to introduce errors, and entails a significant amount of extra effort on the part of both the IEEE staff and the working group editor. It also inevitably introduces delay in the publication of a standard, and makes maintainence of a standard arduous at best.

So, take this advice to heart: Use Framemaker!

Framemaker is readily available at most retail software distributors, or it can be purchased directly from Adobe.

The current version of Framemaker as of this writing is version 5.5, which includes built-in capability for generating Portable Document Format (PDF) files.

To ensure cross-platform compatibility, and compliance with the IEEE Style Guide, editors should take note of the following points:

Adobe Acrobat (chairs and editors)

The preferred format for distributing draft documents via the WWW is Portable Document Format (PDF). While Framemaker 5.5 can directly generate PDF files, other tools may not be able to do so. However, the Adobe Acrobat tools can generate PDF files from Postscript files, and most word processing programs can produce a Postscript file. Acrobat also lets you manipulate and edit PDF files. With Acrobat, you can annotate files, rotate pages, change the page ordering, etc. It is supported on multiple platforms including Windows/NT, Macintosh, and Unix.

Acrobat is readily available at most retail software distributors, or it can be purchased directly from Adobe.

Adobe Acrobat Reader (all participants)

Not to be confused with the full Adobe Acrobat package, Acrobat Reader is a tool which allows you to view PDF files, and search through them. Adobe makes this tool available free of charge, and all members of a standards development group are encouraged to obtain it.

Microsoft Access (chairs and editors)

During the review and balloting phases of the standards development process, some documents garner a lot (as in hundreds, even thousands) of comments. Keeping the disposition and resolution of all these comments straight can be a nightmare unless a database tool is used. Various working groups in 802 have used Microsoft Access with great success, and have automated the comment collection and tracking process to a high degree. While just about any good quality database tool will work, use of Microsoft Access will allow you to re-use some of the automated tools that have been developed by various working groups.

Access is available from most retail software distributors, or it can be purchased directly from Microsoft.

Some Working Groups in 802 have found it useful for every one in the group to obtain a copy of Access (or another DB) and use it for comment entry and review. Since there may be a significant cost associated with such an acquisition, it is a good idea to check with your WG chair or project editor before running out and buying a copy and then finding out that you won't need it.

Internet connection (all participants)

Most of the working groups in IEEE 802 do a great deal of their work via the Internet. This is hardly a surprise, and you probably already have an account with an Internet service provider anyway (otherwise, how are you reading this?). To save costs on document distribution, we encourage all participants in IEEE 802 to get on the 'net, and get a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader. Our motto is: "Save a tree with the IEEE".

Web Browser and Email (all participants)

It doesn't really matter which browser you get, or which email application. Just be aware that you will use these tools a great deal.

Some email programs cope well with attached files and some don't. It is very helpful to have one that handles attached files well since they are used frequently.

Presentation Graphics (chairs and editors, and technical contributors)

Slideware is a commodity at most standards meetings. The most commonly used tool for preparing presentation graphics is Microsoft Powerpoint, though many other packages are also used. The important thing is that your presentation graphics tool must be able to create PDF files, either directly, or by generating Postscript, which can then be distilled into PDF. We generally do not archive presentation materials in anything other than PDF.

Secure Shell (ssh) (chairs)

The IEEE provides a web server ( which can host pages for IEEE 802 standards development projects. Working group and Task Force chairs and project editors are encouraged to obtain an account on this server so that they can maintain their own web sites. The IEEE Electronic Services department requires account holders to use the secure shell (ssh) software tool to login to grouper via the Internet. This tool is available for a variety of platforms and is available in both freeware and commercial versions.

A commercial version of ssh is available from DataFellows.

A freeware version of ssh is available at:

A number of other ssh clients have become available.  IT would be worth your while to search for one that meets your needs.

zip/unzip (compression) utility (chairs and editors)

Some utility that can unzip zipped files is helpful. For editors and chairs something to zip is also useful though its necessity is rapidly decreasing. WinZip is a good example and is available from:

uuencode utility (chairs and editors)

A utility that can unencode files that have been encoded for emailing (via uuencode, mime, etc.) is useful. Some email systems will perform the decode for you most of the time. But some do not and some let some messages through without decoding. XferPro 32 is a shareware application that does a good job recognizing and unpacking a variety of encodings. It can be downloaded from:

Last Update: 16 May 2001

This page is maintained by Bob O'Hara . Comments are welcome.