Monday, 4 February 2008

Looking forwards to OR08 April 1st and the Repository Challenge

Been thinking about OR08 and the Repository Challenge. Having been involved with a few code-fests in the past, I'm not too sure about the idea of throwing a load of stuff up in the air on the day and seeing which group of developers it lands on and what happens. Particularly, questions of managing the teams, build processes and code sharing all raise practical issues. In the past with code-fests this was less of a problem as usually projects were 90% their own code, and the whole build tree could be shipped around. These days, with so many projects being 5% own code, 95% reuse of other components the issues of configuration management are that much greater. And thats before we get onto required server infrastructure.

I reckon the people who are going to come out of the repository challenge are likely to be those who go with a pretty well defined goal and some infrastructure that lets developers hit the ground running working on the actual problems instead of worrying about the logistics of such an event.

Initially, the repository events api is one that interests me. Having recently finished a solr based indexing component, but having needed to hard-wire that into our lom repository component. It would have been great to be able to just subscribe the indexing service to the repository and let it run. So I'm thinking it might be worth doing a bit of pre-work on a repository events demonstrator, probably with a SOLR based indexing component as a proof of concept. Anyone interested drop me a line :).

MLA's cultural learning objects project - seamless SRW, OAI, Sword and LOM

in late 2007 MLA, the council for Museums, Libraries and Archives commissioned a forward looking project to support the re-purposing of cultural resources as learning objects. Their rational being that the MLA's extensive collection of cultural resources were of value to the learning community. What follows is a brief description of how MLAs choices to use standards based interfaces and open source components has allowed us to integrate several resources and technologies to rapidly provide a standards based solution. Having attended the JISC CRIG Unconference, SWORD seemed the be the natural replacement for the legacy soap and ftp services which used to be used to upload LOM records to the curriculum online repository.


The solution essentially uses SRW to harvest descriptive records and unique identifiers from the Peoples network discover service (Using the restful web service interface). These brief results are presented to the user. The user selects the records they wish to create LOM descriptions for and hit the download button. The tagging tool looks at each record and decides the best way to obtain the full original source record. In this case, submitting a unique identifier back to the source OAI service (As the discover service only contains brief descriptive records). The source record is retrieved and an appropriate XSL transformation applied to convert it into the lom schema, as fully populated as we can manage. The user then opens the file in the tagging tool propper where validation forces them to manually complete the fields needed for the selected lom profile. Finally, the user selects the upload option which uses the SWORD client libraries to submit the LOM document to a LOM metadata repository.

#1 Tagging tool startup. The user is prompted for their sword username and password, along with other personal information that can be defaulted in to the created LOM records.


#2 The tagging tool starts up and presents the user with an empty LOM document that can be used for authoring from scratch.

#3 User selects Discover from the main menu allowing them to search remote SRW repositories.

#4 Search results. The user is allowed to select search results for download and conversion into lom.

#5 The user edits the newly created lom document. Missing mandatory fields are highlighted and defaults applied where possible. The user is supported in selecting controlled classification fields from managed ZThes files.


#6 Finally the user selects the upload menu option and the file is delivered to the configured repository using the sword cliet.

Knowledge Integration Ltd