As Spring et al  have suggested, one of the ways that the standards development process might be improved is to automate various parts of the document development process. During 1995, a prototype system to support collaborative authoring and editing was constructed in the Department of Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh. The system is called CASCADE (Computer Augmented Support of Collaborative Authoring and Document Editing). During the summer of 1995, the members of the CASCADE research team began working with members of the Software Engineering Institute who were involved in the development of the POSIX standard (1003.21). It was agreed that a reasonable first test of CASCADE might be to have it manage the review of comments made on the mock ballot to be carried out during the fall of 1995. Because the individuals involved did not all have interactive access to the system over high speed networks, it was decided that the comments could be made through e-mail with software handling the parsing and placement of comments in the source text.
Ultimately, we seek to determine whether real time electronic commenting and comment review can speed, improve and facilitate the standards development process. Within the context of this preliminary study, we seek to determine the reliability and validity of an automatic mail parser in terms of the validity of comment identifications, placement of comments in the source document, and the classification of the comments. The study also gathered preliminary data on the usability of interfaces to those comments.