Open GIS Consortium Online Standards Testing
The Open GIS Consortium (http://www.opengis.org) is an international industry standards consortium of more than 250 companies, government agencies and universities. Members participate in a consensus process to develop publicly available interface specifications that support interoperable solutions that make the Web, wireless and location-based services, and mainstream information technology "map friendly." The most widely adopted OGC specifications deal with maps in a Web Services environment. In particular, they deal with how to make map data (maps or the data that makes up maps) and map services (answering a map-related question) Web-accessible no matter the underlying hardware, software or network.
Two of those specifications, the Web Map Service (WMS) Specification and the Web Feature Service Specification (WFS) have been around for several years. During that time, dozens of technology developers have implemented these two specifications in their software. But until recently, there was no way to confirm that the implementations followed the "rules" as defined in the specification.
Because many of the OGC specifications are Web-focused, it seemed a logical move to create an online testing capability. OGC used its consensus process to develop a testing environment as well as tests for implementations of two specifications. Initiative sponsors defined the goals of what was called the Compliance & Interoperability Test & Evaluation (CITE) Initiative. Interested organizations proposed solutions against those requirements. A team of participants collaboratively built and tweaked the testing environment and the tests themselves during several months in 2003.
The two tests have been online, along with other resources, since November of 2003 (http://cite.occamlab.com). Developers with software that implements WMS and/or WFS specifications can access the testing framework online, test their implementation, and see how it fares. The tests provide the developers with feedback for tweaking the interface implementations and fixing errors. Many testers go through several iterations of testing before clearing all the hoops and achieving compliance. Dozens of organizations have used the tests since they became available with 10 products achieving compliance certifications.
The automated nature of the tests allows for reproducible, objective test results and allows software developers worldwide to see how their implementations comply. Once an implementation has passed a compliance test, the results are submitted, along with an administrative fee, to OGC. OGC in turn provides the implementing organization a letter stating compliance and granting the right to state compliance for that interface. The software is also listed as compliant on the OGC website (http://www.opengis.org/resources/?page=products). The developer can then use the "Certified OGC Compliant" seal on its packaging and literature.
The online standards testing tools are a key step in insuring that those looking for mapping data and services online will be able to find and use them. OGC is working to make more online tests available in the future.
The Xgrain II project
The JISC Information Environment (http://www.jisc.ac.uk/ie/) offers a range of high quality, specialised Abstracting & Indexing (A&I) database and electronic tables of contents services providing key discovery facilities for references to journal articles and other information objects. Institutions have been aware for some time that these services are relatively underused, particularly in the Learning & Teaching context.
Consequently, JISC funded the Xgrain (cross-grain) project whose aim was to develop a prototype cross-searching mechanism for A&I databases and Library OPACs in the JISC Information Environment. After the successful demonstration of this prototype, the Xgrain II project was established to develop a service quality cross-searching tool, named GetRef, that would enable the user to present a simple search string to multiple services and receive the matching results from each. This has two effects:
In this way, GetRef helps overcome the difficulties inexperienced users face in using native A&I services by enabling simple "shallow" searching across the range of available services. This simple form of service presentation may be regarded as an attempt to appeal to the "Google generation". As users gain experience in the use of these services, they are encouraged to access the native interfaces for in-depth searching. Ultimately, the aim is to promote the adoption of A&I services within the curriculum.
A further aim of the Xgrain II project was to explore aspects of the architectural model developed for the JISC Information Environment. The approach adopted was to divorce the cross-searching "broker" function from the GetRef end-user interface. The Xgrain broker acts as a shared service in the JISC model, providing cross-searching functionality over a machine-to-machine interface to a range of Library and subject-specific portals. The Xgrain broker also presents an example of a specialised functional unit, with focus on the discovery function. This should be seen in the context of the UK eLib Programme which developed the four-verb model of discover, locate, request, and access to characterise the process of journal article use.
In terms of implementation, the main protocol used both for interacting with portals and with targets is Z30.50. The project is now incorporating a number of additional access protocols to accommodate a wider range of portal interface requirements, and to simplify the task of the portal implementer in incorporating Xgrain functionality. In addition, the adoption of additional back-end protocols for searching new types of target will enable Xgrain to address problem areas outside the initial domain of A&I services. Experience with Xgrain and other related projects has shown that these underlying ideas of functional separation, reuse, and open standards are practical and enable disparate service components to interoperate effectively. In joining-up these functional units, the Information Environment aims to be greater than the sum of its parts.
With the conclusion of the Xgrain II project this summer, the intention is for GetRef to enter full user service. Background information can be found at <http://edina.ac.uk/getref>.
For additional information please contact <EDINA@ed.ac.uk>.
DigiStates is a moderated discussion list for individuals who are working on collaborative (i.e., multi-institutional) projects for the digitization of cultural heritage resources. The list started in August 2003 as an effort to increase communication among archivists, librarians, museum curators, and others who are involved in ongoing statewide digitization projects in the United States. We now have representatives from almost all active statewide projects, and want to attract subscribers from statewide and regional projects that are still in the planning stages. We also welcome individuals from other countries who are involved in multi-institutional projects. However, we are not permitting representatives of commercial entities to subscribe at this time.
DigiStates provides a friendly and supportive environment that facilitates the sharing of information. Possible topics for discussion include project planning, training issues, digitization standards, software options, K-12 users, digitization centers, metadata harvesting, collection development, grants and funding, and marketing. In addition, we encourage subscribers to announce developments of their projects.
Individuals interested in subscribing should go to: <http://lists.mdch.org/bin/listinfo/digistates>. Scroll down to the "Subscribing to DigiStates" heading.
DigiStates is administered by Mark Mojdehi of Maryland Digital Cultural Heritage, and is moderated by Ken Middleton, co-chair of the task force for Tennessee's Volunteer Voices digitization project.
In the News
Excerpts from Recent Press Releases and Announcements
Watch Your Inbox-Heritage Health Index Survey Begins in July
April 13, 2004 - Washington, D.C.: " In July 2004, the Heritage Health Index questionnaire will arrive at 16,000 archives, historical societies, libraries, museums, and scientific organizations nationwide. This survey of the condition and preservation needs of collections willfor the first timeproduce a national picture of the state of artistic, historic, and scientific collections held by the full range of institutions that care for them."
"'Survey respondents have a unique responsibility to assure that the evidence of our artistic, historical, and scientific heritage survives into the future,' said Dr. Robert S. Martin, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). 'We cannot afford to wait to identify collections that are at risk for immediate and permanent loss. I encourage all institutions that receive the Heritage Health Index survey to complete it thoroughly and promptly.' The Heritage Health Index is administered by Heritage Preservation in partnership with IMLS."
"Heritage Preservation estimates that about 50,000 institutions hold collections, including books, manuscripts, paintings, photographs, archeological artifacts, natural history specimens, historic objects, audio-visual materials, and digital media. The survey will be distributed to collecting institutions of all types and sizes in all U.S. states and territories."
"...The results and recommendations that come out of the Heritage Health Index will be publicized and distributed widely and given to key national and state policy makers. The data will also give collecting institutions and their leadership a context in which to view their collections' condition and preservation needs."
"...The Heritage Health Index has received major funding from IMLS and the Getty Grant Program and additional support from the Bay Foundation, Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Peck Stacpoole Foundation, and Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation."
For more information, please see teh full press release at <http://www.imls.gov/whatsnew/current/041304-1.htm>.
AACR2 Added to Cataloger's Desktop on the Web: Cataloging Rules Added to Web Version of Library Tool
April 1, 2004 - "The Cataloging Distribution Service (CDS) of the Library of Congress and the co-publishers of the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd edition (AACR2) have agreed to add the AACR2 to the Web edition of the widely used cataloging tool from CDS, Cataloger's Desktop. Currently in test, AACR2 soon will be available to users of the Web version of Cataloger's Desktop, which provides the cataloging documentation resources in an integrated, online system."
"The agreement to include AACR2 in Cataloger's Desktop on the Web was signed by representatives of the Library of Congress and the American Library Association on behalf of the co-publishers of AACR (the American Library Association, the Canadian Library Association and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals). AACR2 has been in the CD-ROM version of Cataloger's Desktop for many years."
"The Cataloging Distribution Service of the Library of Congress has provided publications and services to the international cataloging community on a cost-recovery basis for more than 100 years. Additional information about CDS and Cataloger's Desktop is available online at <http://www.loc.gov/cds/desktop/>."
Digital Preservation Coalition and Pilgrim Trust announce shortlist for new Digital Preservation Award
April 1, 2004 - "This year for the first time the Pilgrim Trust Conservation Awards will include a new Award sponsored by the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC). The Digital Preservation Award, worth £5,000, will recognise leadership and achievement in the developing field of digital preservation."
"More and more material is being converted to digital format and increasing quantities of information are available only in digital form. Whether they are used for the day-to-day business of government departments, to support academic research, or for the general public seeking information and entertainment, these resources represent a significant investment and there is an increasing dependence on them. The DPC Award aims to encourage and highlight creative approaches to furthering the digital preservation agenda. The award is aimed at projects that focus on "born-digital" resources rather than those using technology for preservation or conservation purposes and will be awarded to a project which demonstrates leadership and advancement in the digital preservation area."
The short list for the 2004 Digital Preservation award is:
For more information about each of the above, please see the full press release at <http://www.dpconline.org/graphics/awards/press.html>.
The Library of Congress announces the release of a new online collection
April 1, 2004 - "A Civil War Soldier in the Wild Cat Regiment documents the Civil War experience of Captain Tilton C. Reynolds, a member of the 105th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers. Comprising 164 library items, or 359 digital images, this online presentation includes correspondence, photographs, and other materials dating between 1861 and 1865. The letters feature details of the regiment's movements, accounts of military engagements, and descriptions of the daily life of soldiers and their views of the war. Forty-six of the letters are also made available in transcription."
"This collection offers a look into the lives of a Union soldier and his family during the Civil War. The selected letters lend insight into the wartime dynamics of the Reynolds family. Their words reveal how family members in Reynolds's regiment looked after him, announced his capture, and gave advice. The letters also describe the daily life of a Union soldier, touching on such topics as food, clothing and shelter, health, and punishment. Finally, the selected correspondence provides a unique perspective on the Civil War. Soldiers' feelings and views on slavery and the election of 1864 can be found here. Correspondents also wrote of news about specific events of the war, as in Reynolds's account of President Lincoln."
"American Memory is a gateway to rich primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the United States. Its more than 120 collections range from the papers of the U.S. presidents, Civil War photographs and early films of Thomas Edison to papers documenting the women's suffrage and civil rights movements, Jazz Age photographs and the first baseball cards. The collections contain over 8 million items from the Library of Congress and other major repositories."
The new collection is at <http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/tcrhtml/>.
Leading Entertainment, Consumer Electronics and Technology Companies and Organizations Support ISO Rights Expression Language Standard
March 31, 2004: MSNBC Wire Servieces "Agnostic Media, Inc., Content Directions, Inc., ContentGuard, Inc., Content Reference Forum, DMDsecure, EDItEUR, GiantSteps Media Technology Strategies, IFPI, Lydia, Inc., the Motion Picture Association of America, Microsoft, Navio, Inc., NTT, OverDrive, Inc., Ramp^Rate, the Recording Industry Association of America, Rightscom, RightsLine, Inc., SAMSUNG Electronics Co., Ltd., SyncCast, TranTech, Inc., Universal Music Group, VeriSign, Inc. and Warner Bros. welcome the approval by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) of the MPEG REL, its first digital rights management (DRM) standard."
"ISO MPEG REL is an XML-based Rights Expression Language used to specify terms and conditions for the authorized distribution and use of any digital content. This rich language will be used not only in the entertainment industry, but also by enterprises and individuals to enable the authorized distribution and persistent protection of valuable data and content in accordance with privacy and confidentiality requirements."
"ISO MPEG REL is the first in a set of DRM industry standards to be established by ISO and is an important step forward in building worldwide, robust trust ecosystems for digital content. Other technologies being standardized include metadata, asset identification and aspects of security, protection and trust management."
For more information, please see the news item at <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4636641/>.
Department Awards $34.6 Million Contract to Develop and Operate World's Largest Education Database
Department's Institute of Education Sciences to oversee development of searchable Internet-based catalog of education literature
March 18, 2004, Department of Education - "The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a five-year, $34.6 million contract to Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) of Rockville, Md., along with its subcontractors, to develop and operate a new database system for the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC). The ERIC database will use the latest search and retrieval methods to cull education literature and give high-quality access to educators, researchers, and the general public."
"The ERIC database is the world's largest education database. Begun in 1966, it is composed of more than one million bibliographic records. The goal of the new ERIC is to provide more education materials quicker, and more directly, to audiences through the Internet."
"With the new ERIC, individuals will be able to go to one Web site to search a comprehensive database of journal articles and document abstracts and descriptions and, for the first time, directly access full text. The database will include as much free full text as possible, and links will be provided to commercial sources so that individuals can purchase journal articles and other full text immediately."
For more information, please see the full press release at <http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2004/03/03182004.html>.
Law Library of Congress to Upgrade GLIN
March 18, 2004, U.S. Library of Congress - "The Law Library of Congress has awarded a five-year contract to develop and implement major enhancements to the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN). The improvements are necessary to respond to the challenges of globalization and an increasing demand for online legal research resources. Initial designs for the upgraded GLIN system are expected to be unveiled this August. 'This major system re-design will keep in step with 21st Century expectations for GLIN performance,' said Dr. Rubens Medina, the Law Librarian of Congress and Chairman of the GLIN Executive Council."
"Initiated by the Law Library in 1993, GLIN is a voluntary federation of governments that contribute official legal documents to its Internet database. GLIN was recently honored at a Worldwide Forum on e-Democracy as an organization that 'has made outstanding e-political and e-government achievements that have forever changed the political process.' Currently, 25 national and international governing bodies contribute legal documents to GLIN. The growing online digital database contains statutes, regulations and related legal materials that originate from countries in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia."
"...The technical upgrade is made possible by a Congressional appropriation that also provides funds for targeted promotion to expand GLIN membership in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Further, Congress provided support for a retrospective project that will provide unprecedented access to the laws of 19 Latin American GLIN members."
"The mission of the Law Library of Congress is to provide research and legal information to Congress, the federal courts and executive branch agencies, and to offer reference services to the public. It contains the world's largest collection of law books and other resources from all countries. GLIN was developed to support the Law Library's research and reference services and increase digital access to its unparalleled collections."
For more information, please see the full press release at <http://www.aallnet.org/press/press040318.asp>.
NSF Digital Libraries Part of New Yahoo! Search Effort
March 16, 2004 - "National Science Foundation: As part of a new effort by Yahoo! to expand the breadth and depth of the Web content it searches, several digital libraries supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) will make their collections of Supreme Court audio, Babylonian artifacts and science education resources accessible through Yahoo!'s enhanced search capabilities."
"'NSF supports many innovative digital library collections, and we are pleased to have these unique national and international resources included in Yahoo!'s effort to provide the best and most relevant Web content to its users,' said Steve Griffin, program director for digital library activities in NSF's Computer and Information Sciences and Engineering directorate."
"Three NSF-supported digital libraries are among the first non-commercial partners in Yahoo!'s new program designed to increase comprehensiveness, maintain the most up-to-date data and improve relevancy of search results for its users."
"The NSF's National Science Digital Library (http://www.nsdl.org/) integrates more than 250 merit-reviewed resource collections, organized in support of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education at all levels."
"Northwestern University's online OYEZ project (http://www.oyez.org/) contains more than 2,000 hours of Supreme Court audio, including all audio recorded since 1995. NSF support will allow the OYEZ archive eventually to provide public access to all Supreme Court audio—more than 6,000 hours."
"UCLA's Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (http://cdli.ucla.edu/), which has been supported by NSF, is pursuing the systematic digital documentation and electronic publication of approximately 500,000 cuneiform tablets that document Babylonian history from its beginnings around 3500 B.C. until the time of Christ."
NSF Program Officers:
For more information, please see <http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/news/04/tip040316.htm#second>.
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