CDS/ISIS Resources

Vimal Kumar Varun
Scientist 'D'
Department of Scientific & Industrial Research
Technology Bhawan, New Mehrauli Road, New Delhi-110016
Internet: URL:


Describes CDS/ISIS user forum, CDS/ISIS utilities developed by various individuals and institutions; Electronic discussion list, INFOISIS - magazine on CDS/ISIS; Various versions of CDS/ISIS; Web interfaces, CDS/ISIS home page, CDS/ISIS databases on Internet, etc along with their URL addresses.

KEYWORDS: CDS/ISIS home page; CDS/ISIS versions; CDS/ISIS utilities; CDS/ISIS web interfaces; INFO-ISIS; CDS/ISIS databases on Internet.


Micro CDS/ISIS is an advanced non-numerical information storage and retrieval software developed by UNESCO in 1985 basing the mainframe version of CDS/ISIS started in the late '60s. This aims to satisfy the need of many institutions, especially in developing countries, to streamline their information processing activities by using modern and relatively inexpensive technologies. One of the major advantages of using CDS/ISIS is its capabilities to manipulate an unlimited number of databases each of which may consist of completely different data elements.

The major features of this software include: handling of variable length records, fields and sub fields; handling of repeatable fields; information retrieval using powerful search language; free text searching; a data interchange using ISO 2709; an integrated application for programming language in CDS/ISIS Pascal and ISIS_DLL; functions allowing users to build relational database and powerful hypertext functions to design complex user interfaces.

The current vesion of CDS/ISIS for MS DOS is 3.08 and for Windows is 1.4. The same is available from either National Distributor (NISSAT in India) or UNESCO.



It provides a comprehensive and easily accessible source of information on CDS/ISIS such as national distributors of CDS/ISIS, utilities, database designs, CDS/ISIS discussion list, INFOISIS, bibliography on CDS/ISIS, and conference details.

The article `Putting CDS/ISIS database on CD-ROM' by Ed Brandon is available at Mr. Brandon may be contacted at A multilingual stop-word file is also available at  

A bibliography on CDS/ISIS - updated up to June 1998 (Part I - Journal articles, Part II- Books, Part III -New references) by Ernesto Spinak and Francesco Dell'Orso is available at This bibliography contains articles about CDS/ISIS published in non-CDS/ISIS journals, newsletters, bulletins, etc. The Web site provides links to a number of CDS/ISIS related Web sites and CDS/ISIS User Groups of interest to users.

The success of this site depends on contributions by CDS/ISIS users. If anyone has anything to be included in this site, the same may be sent by e-mail to Irene Veerman at or Hogo Besemer at  


The following CDS/ISIS Utilities are available on the aforesaid site:


Fangorn is a program to convert data downloaded from host computer or CD-ROMs into a file conforming to ISO 2709 specifications with a 80-byte record. It may be downloaded at The Zip file contains the program, manual, sample specification file for BIOSIS, MEDLINE & STN and a sample database. The details about Fangorn are available at

Contact: Hogo Besemer at for more details.


Comma, a Pascal program, is a menu exit that makes it possible to import Comma Delimited File (CDF) into a Micro CDS/ISIS database using a reformatted FST. The source program is available at The documentation for Comma is available at

Contact: Lui Bermello, DICT-MES, Cuba for more details.


The program GMOD of OECD is a Global Modifier for CDS/ISIS files. In short, it looks through all occurrences of a field and replaces a given string with a new string. If you do not indicate a string to be replaced, it creates a field and fills it with the new string. If the resulting field after replacement is [empty] the program deletes this field. One can operate on an MFN range or on the records found in the last search. One can make the program scan for an exact string or let the program find matches regardless of case. The source program is available at The details about GMOD are available at


DB3ISO is a dBaseIII to ISO 2709 export utility including the memo fields. It allows to use optionally a text file with instructions for selecting any field from dBaseIII and rearrange them. It also has the possibility of creating a new field with the logical register number from the database in dBaseIII. DB3ISO is written in 8086/88 assembler language.

It is downloadable at manual and characteristics of DB3ISO is available at .


ISODB3, written by Alezandro in 1987 using `C', converts ISO 2709 file into dBaseIII records. ISODB3 is downloadable from manual and characteristics of ISODB3 is available at


The program PRINT written by John Peters enables a CDS/ISIS user to print specific records from a database by typing in their MFNs. One can print up to 50 records this way. The program asks for a print format and a list of MFNs. The output can be written on to a file or directly to a printer. The source program is available at The details about the PRINT are available at

Contact: Jan Peters at for more details.


This Pascal program, KasPus, deletes fields which are empty or contain only spaces. After the conversion with Fangorn all fields will exist (even the empty ones). This will cause problems when you include this in your FST for import (or in a print format). Do make a backup copy of your database before running the program KasPus. The source program is available at The user instructions for KasPus are available at

Contact: Wojciech Sachwanowicz at for more details.


This program, written in Pascal, enhances browsing and saving of file functions of CDS/ISIS. The most important features include: browsing forward and backward through a database, scrolling display of long records, `one key' switch to the ALL format and saving of manually tagged files to a SAV file. The Browser is the first in the series of programs which enhance selected features of CDS/ISIS. The Browser is downloadable from The Zip file contains compiled programs and instructions for installations. The user instructions are also available at

The most advanced feature include direct switching from browsing to editing, dynamic worksheets (one can call entry field from the predefined list), and read only fields in a worksheet.

Contact: Wojciech Sachwanowicz at for more details on the Browser and for the translation of other programs into English.


TEPACIS (TEaching PAckage on CDS/ISIS), the computer-aided instruction is a teaching package on CDS/ISIS, written by Dr F J Devadasan. The demo version is downloadable from Unzip the TEPACIS.ZIP and type START to execute the program. There is no password for the demo version. It is also downloadable from

Contact: Dr F J Devadasn at for more details.


DEMO is a self-running English language demonstration showing the features and possible applications of CDS/ISIS. It is written by late Giampaolo del Bigio. It is downloadable from Unzip the file DEMO.ZIP and type START to run the demo. The demo will continue to run until Ctrl C is pressed. The user instructions are available at


The IRIS Version 2.0 (Information Retrieval Interface System for ISIS) is a general purpose ISIS/Pascal programmed interface for searching CDS/ISIS databases and browsing the search results. As an interface, it helps the novice users to work with the powerful searching command language of CDS/ISIS. It is downloadable from The zipped file must be unzipped using -d option (PKUNZIP -d IRIS.ZIP). The detailed description of installation, adoption and use of the interface is available at IRIS.DOC (zipped with IRIS.ZIP). The user instructions are available at

Contact: E de Smet at for more details.


The ODIN Version 2.2 (Operative Data INput)is a general purpose ISIS/Pascal programmed interface for data entry and editing. As an interface, it helps the novice users (data entry staff) to work with the internal storage format of CDS/ISIS records, without the knowledge of CCF. The ODIN is downloadable form The zipped file must be unzipped using -d option (PKUNZIP -d ODIN.ZIP). The detailed description of installation, adoption and use of the interface is available at ODIN.DOC (zipped with ODIN.ZIP). The user instructions are available at

Contact: E de Smet at for more details.


The NEWSDI Version 2.0 (1995) program developed in Pascal is used for the production of SDI outputs from Micro CDS/ISIS databases. The NEWSDI is downloadable from The Zip file contains the source program, compiled program and README file. The user instructions are available at

Contact: L J Haravu at or for details.

CCF Converter

The CCF Converter is a program which converts bibliographic records from one standard format to another. The specific major purposes of the program are to convert records in UNIMARC format to CCF format and vice versa. A number of special processes for those conversions are included in the program, in addition to processes for converting ISO 2709 records to the CDS/ISIS format. The ready to use computer program runs on all MS-DOS (PC-DOS) computers. A UNIX version is also available.

It is downloadable from The user manual is available at

Contact: Prof Peter Simmons at for questions about the operation of the program.


The interface performs data description and data transfer between the micro-CDS/ISIS and micro-IDAMS packages in both directions. This means a transfer of a selected part of an ISIS database into an IDAMS data set, or a selected part of an IDAMS data set into an ISIS database. The transfer is controlled basically by the data description files of the respective packages. In the case of an ISIS to IDAMS, the transfer is by the ISIS field definition table (FDT), and in the case of an IDAMS to ISIS, the transfer is by the IDAMS dictionary file interface, written in CDS/ISIS Pascal. It is an optional part of the Micro-ISIS package with the following function added to the main menu: F - ISIS-IDAMS Interface while the menu to be connected is EXIDN. The IDIS is downloadable from The instructions for the installation of IDIS and the User Manual are available at and respectively.


The TXT2ISO program is meant for the conversion of ASCII text files to ISO 2709 formatted files. The ISO 2709 file can be imported into pre-defined CDS/ISIS databases. The TXT2ISO program is downloadable from   The Manual and User Instructions are available respectively at and

Contact: L J Haravu at or for more details.


The format exit called CALLNO provides support to such call numbers as are used at the National Library of Medicine with some minor changes. It can be adapted for similar call numbers, eg LC class numbers. The approach taken was to expand the call number inserting blanks as required to align the different subparts of the number. The source program is available at The User Instructions are available at

Contact: Ron Davies at for more details.


It is a Pascal program that identifies and counts deleted records. It can be used as menu exit if desired. The source program LSTREP for logging deleted records is available at The source program for ABSENT - Search for deleted records is available at The details of LSTREP are available at

Contact: Ed Brandon at for more details.

Putting a Number before Printed Records

The program SETCNT and COUNT used together output a progressive number before each record retrieved and sent to the printer. Run SETCNT to set initial number and then use COUNT in format exits. It is to be noted that these programs use key definitions103 (Ctrl-F10) to store the number. Hence, if this key is used for other purposes you have to change this number. The source program for SETCNT and COUNT are available at and respectively. The User Instructions are available at

Contact: Wojtekojciech Sachwanowicz at for more details.


The SHOW (Version 5.0) program is a Menu Exit that makes it possible to see records one at a time, moving forward and backwards, and also allows immediate printing of records selected from the screen, with a short format. The SHOW is downloadable from The User Instructions are available at

Printer Control direct from CDS/ISIS for DOS

This document available at explains how to send escape sequences, and what sequences are needed for Hewlett-Packard printers. Escape sequences can apply to the whole document, or be applied to complete fields or sub-fields. A sample database is available at .

Contact: Alan Wood at for more information


It allows small libraries and documentation centres using CDS/ISIS to control loan and return of books, documents or files. The detailed description is available at The instructions for installation are available at It is downloadable from


It was developed as a GUI-based front-end to CDS/ISIS databases with the end-user in mind as opposed to its use by librarians and information specialists. The idea was to make available a tool which is more user-friendly than the menu driven front end. It has used Borland Corporation's Rapid Application Development tool (RAD tool) called DELPHI. DELPHI-ISIS comes on a single diskette with an install feature making it easy for users to install the software and configure it for their machines.

A Zip file of a demo version of DELPHI-ISIS is available at Once this file is downloaded and unzipped, run the setup.exe to install the software. The demo version has all the functions of the full version but works with databases of up to 1000 records. The USER Instructions are available at

The full version of the software is available at a small cost.

Contact: L J Haravu at or for details or at 69 Krishnapuri Colony, West Manedpally, Secunderabad - 500026.


Unesco's CDS/ISIS text retrieval program is widely used, especially in developing countries, for bibliographic applications, project administrations, etc. The aim of this discussion group is to provide a forum where users can ask questions, announce new developments, application and co-programs. The group is meant for MS DOS users as well as Vax users. Contributions can be submitted in French, English or Spanish.

To join the CDS/ISIS discussion list:

Send an e-mail message to

To sign off CDS/ISIS

Send an e-mail message to

To send a message to be distributed to the list,

Send your e-mail message to CDS-ISIS@NIC.SURFNET.NL. The message should not exceed 250 lines.

The list has two archives. The first one is a Web-based archive at, which also has a searchable index at The second one can be searched by e-mail as per details given at

INFO-ISIS: A magazine specialising in CDS/ISIS

INFOISIS (ISSN 0328 -2006), a magazine specialising in CDS/ISIS, covers unpublished materials, reviews, congress presentations dealing with all aspects of CDS/ISIS computer program in all its versions. The scope includes research, application development and papers on training and education. It is being published quarterly since 1995.

Some of the topics covered by INFOISIS are: comparisons between ISIS and other softwares; applications using ISIS Pascal: library applications; system utilities technical applications; networking with ISIS and communications applications; performance of ISIS running under different operating systems (VMS, UNIX); advantages and disadvantages of input formats; non-conventional applications; different aspects of learning and training of CDS/ISIS; news from national distributors; news from users' clubs; communications from national and/or international projects using CDS/ISIS as computer programme.

The magazine is edited by Sergio F Seymandi and published in English and Spanish. The magazines will bring out a diskette with an application or demo.

Contact: Sergio F Seymandi, Editor, ISISTEC SA Avda. De los Incas 3315 Piso 5 Dpto. 361426 Buenos Aires (Argentina) for subscription details.


The development of Windows version of CDS/ISIS (WINISIS) was started in July 1996.WINISIS Version 1.0 (developed in January 1998) includes all the features of the MS-DOS version except the Database definition component, which will be released at a later date. Therefore, it is designed for current MS-DOS users who wish to migrate to the Windows environment.

Users wishing to create new databases can do so by using the Data definition module of the MS-DOS version (ISISDEF services).

The structure of the directories and the names of the files are similar to the DOS version. See the file SYSPAR.PAR located in the WINISIS directory. One can use the DOS databases without any conversion.

WINISIS Version 1.4 has been launched by Unesco in January 2001 and it is available either from the national distributor or update only can be downloaded from


It contains CDS/ISIS 3.08 (Upgrade only), ISIS-DLL Version 5.0, ISIS for UNIX and ISIS for Windows in DOS, ISIS_DLL, UNIX and WINDOWS subdirectories under the said URL respectively.

The CDS/ISIS Version 3.08 can only be used for licensed users of CDS/ISIS as it is not a complete system, but contains only those files which must be sreplaced. It is available at The file can be used to upgrade your current version3.07x of CDS/ISIS to version 3.08.

The file contains isis.exe, pasovl.ovl, defovl.ovl, isiscd.exe, and the same needs to be replaced with corresponding existing files of CDS/ISIS Version 3.07x. The readme file describes the changes and corrections made. Links are also provided to download CCF, DB3ISO, FANGORN at

The ISIS-DLL (version5.0 13 August 1997) is available for Windows 16 bits, Windows 32 bits, Linux platforms at Directory. The update.txt file describes the release notes on the new version.

The Micro CDS/ISIS for UNIX is available at and its readme file is available at Any problem arising with the UNIX version should be reported to the Programme Manager, Division of Information and Informatics, UNESCO, 1 rue Miollis, 75015 Paris, France.


The details of some of the Web interfaces for CDS/ISIS are given below:


IQUERY, i.e. Interactive Query for CDS/ISIS Search System, is a software designed to run under three platforms, Linux, SCO and DOS. The system was designed to act as an interactive search engine for Mini Micro CDS/ISIS databases. It was developed taking the directives given in the ISIS 3.0 version. The software can run in three different modes, as an interactive command shell, as a CGI to run under WWW servers, and as an interpreter taking the statements from a file.

The Spanish Web Server, a real IQUERY example of a search in a CDS/ISIS database that has information for all the Spanish Web Hosts, is maintained at by Marcelo Kruk.

The IQUERYc v1.0.3b trial version is downloadable from The software is available for MSDOS, Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Linux, and SCO. The details of files updated as on 17 March 1998 are given below.

OS URL [Size]
MSDOS   [43K]
Windows 3.1   [43K]
Windows 95   [43K]
Linux   [44K]   [37K]

SCO   [73K]

To download the files, hold the Shift key and Click on the file. After downloading rename the file to *.cgi or *.exe (MSDOS).

WWW to ISIS Interface

The WWW/ISIS interface is a form-based, interactive and dynamic interface to the ISIS full-text database. Its main features include: complex and/or wild card searches on multiple keyboards, powerful but intuitive form-based user interface, online lists of keywords, rich and flexible formatting of search results, cross-linked output (e.g. author links inside publications), on-line thesauri support, multiple database support, multiple language support, online help; and multiple platform support. Moreover, it is fully configurable and fast.

The WWW/ISIS interface has been implemented on multiple sites and some of them are hosting very large databases such as FAOLEX database at, FISHLEX database at and Oefse online catalogue at

The WWW/ISIS interface is based on Micro CDS/ISIS version 3.0 running on AT&T Compatible Unix. Currently, WWW/ISIS supports Linux, SCO and Sunsoft Solaris/X86; a Windows NT version will be available very soon. The interface can work with virtually every WWW server available (either free or commercial). It has been tested on Apache and NCSA 1.5 WWW servers. The system is written entirely in C, hence it is very fast.

The WWW/ISIS is being jointly developed by CC at and Institute of Computer and Information Engineering at

Contact: CC at for more information.


The JAVA ISIS Release 2.0 is a client-server software, which allows browsing any CDS/ISIS databases through a JAVA interface. The JAVA Client interface works with every platform where a Java Virtual machine is available. The server is also now available in Java language that works with the client by a TCP/IP port. Both are under testing on Windows 95, Windows NT, Sun Solaris and Linux.

JAVA ISIS menus are equal to WINISIS interface. The only difference is the way to open a database. When Open command is selected from the database menu, the application shows the list of running servers. When connected to a remote server, the default database will be opened and first record will be displayed. The demo is downloadable from after executing a bond.

Contact: for further information.


WWWISIS is a system developed and distributed by BIREME/PAHO/WHO, specially designed to act as a server for ISIS databases in a WWW client/server environment. It provides functions for searching and data entry operations over ISIS databases.

WWWISIS operates as a server through the WWW Common Gateway Interface (CGI). WWWISIS may be called directly or as a command line inside a CGI script.

WWWISIS output to the WWW browser is generated via ISIS formatting language. Taking into account the possibility to include HTML codes in format specifications, using conditional and unconditional literals, it is possible to develop a fully graphical, client/server search interface for ISIS databases (in an Internet or Intranet environment).

WWWISIS versions for several platforms (HP-UX, SunOS 5.5, IBM AIX, PCLinux 1.2.13, PC-Windows, and PC-SCO) are available for free to download from Official license may be purchased at a cost of US$ 150.00 and annual maintenance fee of US$ 100.00. Acquiring an official license and maintenance right grants licensee a limited online assistance. For license information, send an e-mail to

BIREME hosts a discussion list on WWWISIS. Subscribe the discussion list by filling out a form at Send an email to to post a message to all the list members. The current archive is available only to registered users at .

WWWISIS manual in MS WORD and RTF format is available at .The list of sites using WWWISIS is available at

The feedback may be sent at


These databases on CDS/ISIS can be searched during Monday through Saturday from 6 AM to 11PM EST. To access ISIS, NAL's Online Public Access Catalog and Journal Article Citation database connect telnet:// and log in as ISIS.

To search the Journal Article Citation database, enter the command /IND. To return to the NAL Online Catalog from the Journal Article Citation database, enter the command /BIB. Within ISIS, two databases, namely, NAL Online Catalog and Journal Article Citation database are available to researchers for information retrieval.

The NAL Online Catalog is updated daily and contains the most current bibliographic citations for books, periodicals, reports, maps, audio-visuals, CD-ROMS, and other materials added to the collection. It also serves as an agricultural union catalogue that includes citations for materials at the US National Arboretum Library and five USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Regional Research Center Libraries.

The NAL Online Catalog is the default database when accessing ISIS. It is the most current source of AGRICOLA cataloguing records. For materials published prior to 1966, consult the printed Dictionary Catalog of the National Agricultural Library if not found in ISIS.

The Journal Article Citation database is also updated daily and consists of citations reflecting periodical articles, book chapters, reprints, and other specialised materials indexed and its cooperators. This database, a subset of AGRICOLA database contains AGRICOLA citations from January 1984 to the present. The Journal Article Citation database is the most current source of AGRICOLA indexing records.

Contact: NAL at for technical assistance or visit their ISIS homepage at


This page contains purpose and objectives, features, system development policy, hardware and software requirements, the Windows version, Internet tools, distribution policy, links to other CDS/ISIS sites, and downloading sites related to UNESCO micro CDS/ISIS software. A non-exhaustive lists of various initiatives taken by many users in promoting the software in Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and United Kingdom is provided in this page.

Links are provided to the Web products developed by users in China (IMS Web at, Germany (ISISWWW at, Italy (ISIS Net at, Easyweb and Easycat at, Poland (WWW/ISIS at, Spain (Selecta v.1 PRO: a library management system at and Uruguay (IQUERY at

It also provides links to various CDS/ISIS databases developed in different countries on the Web.

Contact: Davide Storti at (who maintains CDS/ISIS Home Page) for any clarifications.

CDS/ISIS Databases on the Internet (Indian Efforts)

Union Catalogue of Books held in IISc, NAL and RRI libraries in Bangalore using WWWISIS

INDAB: Indian Abstracting and Indexing Services and Databases in Science and Technology

Catalogue of Reprints, Bioinformatics Centre, University of Pune

Web Access to IISc Library Catalogue

Indian OPACS


Established in 1997 in Germany CDS/ISIS FAQ aims at collecting a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about CDS/ISIS. FAQ is a useful way of documentation and help in Usenet and mailing lists.

Questions and answers may be sent either to the aforesaid URL or by e mail to to help collect questions and answers by the forum. Use as subject one or several of the following topics (general basics, DOS, WINISIS, UNIX, WWW-Interface, Tools) and combine with the topic of your question. For example: UNIX: How to print; or DOS: Tools: Where can I get Heurisko.

Attention ITT Readers

The Internet Edition of ITT, available at, comes out much before the publication of its print version. You may also browse the back issues from 1995 onwards.

Information Today & Tomorrow, Vol. 20, No. 1, March 2001, p.16-p.23

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