Surfing with Ed on the Internet ...

by Ed Swires-Hennessy, Welsh Office

Ed continues his appraisals of different national Web Sites to stimulate use of the Internet, share best practice and encourage debate.

A little further north than last month’s visit - to the Republic of Slovenia, one of many countries that offer a bilingual Internet site http://www.sigov.si/zrs/ with English as one of the languages. The front page of the site is well organised, though the use of graphics for the main site organisation does slow the loading of the page significantly. The description of the organisation outlines the basis of data collection and information on the registers used (including one on residential properties – oh what bliss that would be here instead of using the Postcode address file). The full text of the statistical law is published on the site in English with reasonably well apportioned chunks to access, for example on the Statistical Commission.

Indok as a heading doesn’t mean much until one visits this part of the site and one is rewarded with the access information to the statistics by telephone or in person: it is even possible to borrow research reports and publications for up to two weeks. For the latest data on the main statistical series automatic telephone lines are again available.

My foray into ‘Topical data’ proved fruitless – none was given!

Short-term indicators were arranged by main categories but the data were far out of date: those for consumer price indices, index of production and employment were available up to August 1997 and retail sales only up to December 1996. However this part of the site was accessible for copying to word processor documents – providing one used a fixed width font like Courier.

Slovenia in Figures is the latest pocketbook of data published by the office and available on this site – but only by dowloading a file in portable document format (.pdf). I tried to download the file (of size 31k) which took about one and a half minutes but failed to open because my Acrobat Reader (latest available) could not find ‘multiple master fonts’. This is a clear indication of why basic statistical data should be available in appropriate web pages which can be copied to standard office tools.

The presence of the Statistical Yearbook on the site raised my hopes – again to be dashed by the use of .pdf files. Another problem is the use of a redundant page of graphics between the first call for the pages and the detail (like the redundant page at the front of the ONS site). The yearbook is organised by chapters for downloading: clicking on a chapter heading brings up the titles of the tables in that chapter at the end of which is one or more graphics of diskettes representing the .pdf files. The difficulty on the population chapter, for example, is that two diskettes appear at the end of the list of table titles without any indication of which tables fall into which diskette – and the sizes of the download files are significantly different, 437k and 51k.

Overall this was one of the poorer sites visited on my travels.

This review was undertaken using Netscape v4.05 on 5 April at 11.00 using a V34.4 modem on a 200MHz machine.

Suggestions of interesting sites or interesting features found at statistical sites should be sent to me at

Ed Swires-Hennessy@Wales.gsi.gov.uk

or by snail mail to National Assembly for Wales, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF10 3NQ.

..........Happy surfing..