ABCD is the acronym for a software suite for the automation of libraries and documentation centres. In Spanish this is, in full : 'Automatisación de Bibliotécas y Centros de Documentación', which keeps the same acronym valid also for French (Automation des Bibliothèques et Centres de Documentacion) or Portugese (Automatização das Bibliotecas e dos Centros de Documentação). Even in other non-latin languages, with some slight but quite acceptable variations, - e.g. Dutch : 'Automatisering van Bibliotheken en Centra voor Documentatie' - the acronym can still be maintained.
The name itself already expresses the ambition of the software suite : not only providing automation functions for the 'classic' libraries but also other information providers such as documentation centres. Flexibility and versatility are at the forefront of the criteria on which the software is developed. This flexibility e.g. is illustrated by the fact that in principle, but also practically, any bibliographic structure can be managed by the software, or even created by itself. Even non-bibliographic structures can be created, as long as the information is mainly 'textual' information, as this is the limitation put by the underlying database technology, which is the (CDS/)ISIS textual database. Good understanding of some basic ISIS-related concepts and techniques, e.g. the Formatting Language, is crucial for full mastering of the ABCD-software. For this reason some sections of this Manual will also deal with the underlying ISIS-technology.
ABCD is called a 'suite' of softwares for library and documentation centres automation because it exists of some relatively independent modules, which can fully co-operate but also can exist without each other. In fact some existing advanced softwares, mostly having already shown their potential in demanding environments in BIREMEapplications (within the Virtual Health Library context), were adopted and adapted into ABCD - that is why the original names such as iAH, SeCS (both developed by BIREME) and EmpWeb (Empréstimos en Web) developed originally by KALIO ltda. of Uruguay and amply tested in Chili) are maintained. These main parts are shown, with their hierarchical relationships, at the second level in the following picture and subsequently discussed briefly :