Monday, February 28, 2005

Notes on the Workshop "Open Source Software in Libraries"

We began by installing an Apache Web server. Many folks are still using version 1.3 rather than 2.0. One reason is because they would loose the functionality of AxKit, an XML transformation engine.

Next we examined Perl. Very common and useful language. Learning Perl was recommended as an introductory text.

Z39.50. Installed Yaz, a Z39.50 client toolkit and ran some command line searches against the Library of Congress catalog. It does have a Perl interface to the API.Zebra, also from Index Data, is an indexer and server.

MARC::Record is a Perl module for reading and writing MARC records. One interesting exercise was converting MARC to XHTML. This format makes the records useful to a greater number of tools.

Swish-e. Indexed and searched a group of XHTML files. Swish-e handles metadata, so it is possible to provide fielded searches to users. Comes with a Perl API. Can provide spelling correction, thesaurus intervention and best bets.

Xsltproc and Xmllint. Xmllint validates XML files. Not very exciting but a good tool to know about. Xsltproc is exciting. It will take an XML file and transform it on the fly (requires AxKit) to another format, SQL, XHTML, DOC (for Palms), ASCII and any other plain text format. An example of the power of this is from the Alex Catalog. The one file is available in multiple formats to suit different users needs. Xsltproc can generate metadata tags from the text which can then be indexed by Swish-e.

MySQL. A database. PhpMyAdmin provides a set of PHP scripts to manage, manipulate and query the database through a Web browser window. Why don't more librarians know the SQL language? Databases are so basic to much of our work, it seems a strange lack.

Thank you, Eric Lease Morgan, for an excellent workshop.

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