Glimpse into the Future of Repositories: videos now available!

DevCSI Challenge @ Open Repositories 2011

As usual the standard of the entrants were very high and the solutions were diverse.  There was also high energy and an infectious buzz in the room during the presentations!  See videos at

JISC Prize:


“Repository as a Service (RaaS).  Stuart Lewis, Kim Shepherd, Adam Field, Andrea Schweer, and Yin Yin Latt (University of Auckland, DSpace Committers, EPrints services and the library Consortium of New Zealand.

Repository as a Service (RaaS) is the idea that the repository is a commodity which provides a service. In order for current repositories to act like this they need standard interfaces to get data in and out.  Once these standard interfaces are in place, the repository becomes a commodity which can be swapped in and out, and the ‘repository service’ can be provided by many repositories or one.  The entry demonstrated an Android mobile app that used SWORD to deposit photos into both DSpace and EPrints.  Then using solr indexes as a common interface for getting access to the items in the repository, a tool called Skylight was demonstrated that could display the repository collections.  Identical experiences were provided by both EPrints and DSpace because of the common interfaces in and out.  In addition, the repository as a commodity was shown to be useful for providing further services – examples including translating the content of the repositories using the Microsoft Translation API, and extracting geo-location data from GPS-tagged photos.  The idea for RaaS was conceived and worked up during the conference and it demonstrated strong collaboration and agile development.

JISC Runners up:

“Distributed Research Object Creator” D-ROC Patrick McSweeney and Matt Taylor, University of Southampton

D-ROC is a data driven interface collating resources which already exist on the web to tell a story of research from the research object creators perspective. The author uses a tool to explain how resources from web sources like institutional repositories, slideshare, data repositories, youtube and other online sources are linked together to make up a full piece of research. Behind the scenes this makes an RDF linked data document which could be reused in a number of ways. For their competition entry Patrick and Matt chose to make a data driven website which aggregates attention metadata (views, dowloads, citation counts) from the various web sources but they invision far wider scoped applications for this kind of rich data. One of the key selling points is that a user can imediately see value from there time invested using to tool. To be able to design a project website in half an hour illustrates the power of the tool.

Microsoft Prize:

“Dynamic Deep Zoom Images and Collections with Djatoka” – Rebecca Sutton Koeser, Emory University Libraries

This entry used the Microsoft and Deep Zoom and Pivot applications on top of special image collections in their Fedora repository.  This has wider application to other image-based repository collections and it was impressive to see what was achieved in the time constraints of the developer challenge.

Special mention goes to Sam Adams from Cambridge University for his use of the PIVOT tool over the chempound semantic data repository (JISC Clarion project) which allows rich domain access to physical science data.

Special mention goes to Dave Tarrant from Southampton University for using the XBOX Kinect technology to drag and drop items into ePrints.  It was very ingenious and entertaining watch.

Use of SWORD prize:

RaaS  – same as above.  The project produced a SWORD App for Android mobile devices to allow photos to be deposit from smartphones.  The potential for this implementation as a mobile deposit device is fairly extensive, potentially allowing for geo location, orientation, audio, video, stills to all be recorded to an archival location in near real time, or to enable ‘citizen science’ via data collection from thousands of remote devices.

Thank you to:

Reflecting on the JISC developer days event

I’ve now had a couple of weeks to reflect on the busy and interesting JISC developer days event (also known as dev8D) that was held in London on the 24th – 27th of February. The purpose of the event is to get software developers from across higher education and related sectors put them in a room and give them opportunities to network, learn and sink their teeth into challenges posed by new software or datasets. We believe that this approach leads to interesting new ideas and approaches to issues, better trained developers and better connected developers who are more effective because of those connections.

I don’t propose to review the event because you can get an impartial review from some of the many blogs written by people who attended the event. This post is meant to collect the interesting things that were done at and after the event into one place so people can easily find out more about what the event produced. 

Despite this not being a review, reviews are an excellent way to get an overall flavour of the event. So here are a few of the thoughtful reviews produced by people who attended dev8D.

As well as these reviews you can also see the feedback that delegates left about the event on the wiki.  

One of the benefits of dev8D is the networking. Dave Challis of Southampton has used the twitter accounts of people attending the event to illustrate how people’s networks grew during the event

If you have a hankering then you can access all the dev8D tweets from before during and after the event.

The dev8D blog also talks about networking and why it’s important.  

We were lucky at this year’s dev8D to have a really diverse bunch of attendees, here are some examples of the people who attended:

Adrian Stevenson has also posted some video interviews with some people at dev8D over on the eFragments blog

The event was jam packed with opportunities to learn. These came in the form of guided sessions to learn new languages, quick 15 minute intros to topics, freeform workshops and ad hoc meetings.

All this learning activity is neatly summed up in Milly Shaw’s  post on the dev8D blog. You can also get a flavour of how the delegates felt about the training from the review posts linked above.

What does this kind of event produce? Well, not finished software but demonstrators and new ideas abound. This year at the event a number of organisations offered prizes for developers who came up with an interesting solution to a problem or did something interesting with their technology. There were 9 of these prizes offered by people as diverse as Microsoft Research, MLA, IMS, Edina, Memento and the Internet Archive.

A description of all the entries to these competitions is available on the dev8D blog The prototypes produced for these challenges are often worth much more than the prizes offered. Sam Adams, the developer who won the Memento challenge, is going out to visit the Memento team in the US as a result of his entry and Rob Sanderson who ran the Memento challenge commented to me that Sam’s entry was likely to have a real impact on the work of the Memento team.

In a similar vein, the winner of the Microsoft Research challenge has been asked to do a show and tell on his entry at the Open Repositories conference in Madrid.

The ideas weren’t limited to those entering the competition for prizes. There were fascinating ideas people bought along to the event or worked on while they were there:

For a complete listing of event outputs see the happy stories page of the dev8D wiki which collects interesting ideas, experiments, thoughts, etc.  

In summary, it was an amazing event, so much happened and I missed far more than I managed to see. The enthusiasm and energy that organisers and attendees put into the event was astonishing and I am still digesting a lot of the things I saw and learned. The devCSI project who organised this event as part of their remit to support a community of developers in UK HE did a fantastic job and keep an eye on their blog for more events like this. 

Make your own event programme for dev8D

The JISC developer days event (dev8D) is fast approaching and the programme has been made available. It has taken a little longer than usual to prepare because the organisers wanted to do something interesting with the source data for the event programme. They have certainly succeeded.

They have provided the data about each session as a dynamic dataset that will continue to evolve in the lead up to the event. This dataset is available to anyone who is interested from the dev8D website and is provided in three semantic web formats: RDF, n3, and nt . The dataset includes details of session titles, timings, and locations.

The organisers have used this dataset to build a timetable for the event which includes useful links to add events to your calendar. However they have also issued a challenge to people attending the event to design a better way to view or use the data. The best examples will be provided along with the existing timetable.

All sorts of interesting tools were designed at dev8D in 2009. So I am very excited to see the innovative ways that this year’s delegates choose to use this data both before the event and during it.

Congratulations to Chris Gutteridge, Dave Challis (both of ECS at Southampton University) and Mahendra Mahey of UKOLN for their great work on this.

There are still a few places left for dev8D, it should be really useful for all HE developers and for people interested in their work. Registration is free and each day should stand on its own so no need to feel you have to attend the entire event. You can register on the event website.

Dates for 2010 dev8D announced

Following on from the very successful developer happiness days event in February of this year. The dates for the second dev8D event have been announced.  It will take place 24th-27th of February 2010 in London. This year’s event will run from Wednesday to Saturday with each day designed to stand alone but are also designed to fit together to provide a complete experience. So delegates can choose to come to as many or as few days as suit them. Learning from successful events like Barcamp London 7, Saturday was included in the event to expand the potential audience.

Free accommodation will be provided at a boutique hostel. Accommodation is basic and rooms will be shared but we hope that by providing this it will enable a greater range of people to attend.

Dev8D in 2009 was a very successful event. Exciting prototypes were produced as part of the event and the dev8D competition winner, a reading list prototype called list8D has since been funded as a JISC rapid innovation project. An early version of the list8D reading list software has been released recently for others to experiment with.  Dev8D 2009 was mentioned in the Edgeless University Report produced by Demos as a good example of experimentation that can:

help uncover not only new educational tools but also new uses for educational materials, and can draw on the energy and ideas of new constituencies. (p 48)

The sign up sheet for the event will be released soon and I look forward to seeing lots of new people at the event.

Part 1 of 2: Report on #DepoST (Deposit Tool Show & Tell) Meeting 2009-12-10



Published by: David F. Flanders (JISC Programme Manager)

Just before I sat down to write this post, I quickly went back to have a look at the originalSWORD (Deposit API) Project to look up when the first draft specification was published, to my amazement version 1 was published *exactly* two years to the date of the “Deposit Tool Show & Tell” event: 12 October 2007. And quite significantly (as you’ll see below), there are well over twenty different applications and deposit tools built atop the SWORD Deposit API since that first 1.0 publication. So, CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY SWORD! A little tip of the hat to Rachael Heery who brought a bunch of us hackers to sit around a table to talk about how deposit could be improved, your focus and drive in this space is missed.

The show (and tell) -must of course- go on, accordingly here is agenda for the day along with the people who attended. The rest of the story is picked up by our blogger-on-the-day Bashera Kahn:

12 October 2009, London, UK. JISC held a one-day Barcamp at the University of London focusing on author deposit tools, ahead of the DSpace User Group Meeting at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

The Deposit Show & Tell event is one of the first steps in JISC’s plan to invest £300,000 in sustained improvements to author deposit tools. It followed the September 2009 JISC report into how and why UK researchers publish and disseminate their findings, which provides an excellent contextual backdrop to the challenges facing the architects and users of repositories and deposit tools.

‘DepoST’, as it was tagged, brought together developers and stakeholders from across the UK and Europe who have already broken ground on creating and refining author deposit tools and interfaces.

Several lightning-fast rounds of demonstrations proved that the development space in this area is thriving, with a strong focus on making the deposit process quicker and easier for users authoring research content, from academics to students, librarians to archivists and curators.

JISC’s David F. Flanders stressed in his welcoming address the importance of adding improved ‘feedback loops’ to the deposit process, to provide authors with more information during and after the process than just ‘Okay’.

Flanders mentioned a few patterns he’d observed in the showcased tools which adopted workflows and interactions that would be familiar to users from commonplace computing or online experiences, such as:

David’s Slides on: The ‘Deposit Tool Show And Tell’ Event (Introduction to the Day and Overview of Deposit Tool Types for Author Publishing)

<–!DFF: The twenty some, short and fast (“lightning talk”) ‘show and tell’ presentations followed with five minutes a piece to SHOW their app, with five minutes ‘question and TELL’ following:

Shown & Told:

(1) Julian Cheal, SUE/SIS Systems Developer, UKOLN

(2) Dave Tarrant, Postgraduate researcher, University of Southampton

(3) Pat McSweeney, ePrints project developer, University of Southampton

(4) Peter Sefton, eScholarship Tech Team Manager, University of Southern Queensland, Australia

(5) Richard Jones, Symplectic Limited

(6) Alex Strelnikov, UKOLN

(7) Jan Reichelt, Mendeley

(8) Ian Stuart, Software Engineer, EDINA

(9) Joe Lambert, University of Southampton

(10) Viv Cothey, Gloucestershire Archives

(11) Tim Brody, EPrints WebDav, University of Southampton

(12) Theo Andrew & Fred Howell, The Open Access Repository, EDINA

(13) Stuart Lewis, IT Innovations Analyst & Developer, University of Auckland Library

(14) Alex Wade, Director for Scholarly Communication, Microsoft External Research

(15) Seb Francois, University of Southampton

(16) Julian Tenney and Patrick Lockey, Xerte, University of Nottingham

(17) James Ballard & Richard Davis, University of London

(18) Dan Needham, University of Manchester & Alan Danskin, British Library

The second half of the day focused in on the FEATURES that each of the above tool provided to the end-user along with the various work(FLOWS) that depositing research content could take:


A community support project for higher education developers coming soon…..

In February of this year JISC put on an event called dev8D aimed at software developers throughout Higher Education and in other relevant sectors. This event was very full and productive, the main strand of the event focused on developers working with end users to come up with ideas for technology to solve user problems or answer their needs. The outputs of the event and interviews with participants were recorded on the event blog.

Yesterday in an internal JISC innovation group meeting, Ross Gardler of OSS Watch issued the challenge that while dev8D was good, what is following up on what was started there?

Fortunately I was able to say that DevCSI is picking up what dev8D started and, with impeccable timing, Paul Walk of UKOLN announced the JISC funded devCSI project last night:

Keep your eyes on the DevCSI page and the twitter tag #devCSI for further news.

A developer competition focused on library data

A JISC project called MOSAIC has set a competition for developers to develop a web app using library activity data. Full details are below:

The JISC MOSAIC project has gathered together data covering user activity in UK Higher Education libraries. The data, which is freely available for you to reuse, represents circulation records linked to the course affiliations of the borrowers.

The project is holding an open competition to discover what you can do with that data. This is your chance to impress the world with your ideas as well as your coding and to win one of three prizes of £1000, £250 and £100 …

To enter, simply produce a browser based application that makes use of some or all of the MOSAIC library activity data by the closing date – Monday 31 August 2009.

Full details, open access to the data and competition rules 

More about the JISC MOSAIC (Making Our Shared Activity Information Count) project

jiscri – The results

We have been notifying and sending out grant letters to bidders to the JISC Rapid Innovation call, also known as  jiscri, this week and are now able to release some information about the call.

We got 94 bids for the call and have ended up funding 33 projects at a cost of £1.1m. Originally we had allocated less funding to this call but in response to the number and quality of bids we received it was agreed we were able to increase the level of funding available for these projects. So thank you to those that submitted proposals and showed interest in this programme activity.

The 33 projects still need to sign and return their grant letters before the projects are confirmed so we can’t give a full run down of them yet but will list them on this blog and the JISC website as soon as we can. We were able to fund projects in each of the priority areas specified in the call:

The projects will start in June and run for 6 months. We will be having a meeting for these projects and people interested in them in early September. An announcement about this should come from the IE demonstrator soon. The IE demonstrator will be showcasing the work of these projects so it is a good RSS feed to grab if you are interested in jiscri.

A technical challenge for a Friday afternoon

We have had an interesting technical challenge posed by Chris Rusbridge, Director of the DCC relating to marking JISC bids and wondered if any of you clever people out there could come up with a solution.

For the jiscri call we received 94 bids each of these has to be marked by 3 markers, the marking process has approximately 5 sections with comments. That is a lot of data to process so an online submission system is essential. We use a web form for this. However, lots of our markers are mobile and entering marks directly into the web form is not convenient so the markers prepare their marks and comments offline and then add them to the web form at a later date. JISC provides a standard spreadsheet to help people make notes.

Copying comments and marks from the cells in the spreadsheet into the individual boxes on the web form  is a time consuming and dull task and Chris is keen to find an automated way to do this. 

I had a look at this myself last night and got halfway to a quick and dirty solution. Since the webform doesn’t have an API, I figured the easiest way to speed things up will be to make the pasting process easier. This can be done with enhanced clipboard systems such as ditto or clipdiary. However, getting the individual cells from the spreadsheet as unique entries on the clipboard in the correct order is a problem I couldn’t solve.

So over to you. Is there a way to use the clipboard solution to make Chris’ task easier or is there an altogether more elegant solution? Chris’ deadline is 10am Monday 11th May so answers before then would make Chris happy. 

Here is a dummy example of the webform (it is from a completed marking process):

I have put an example spreadsheet on google docs the text in the yellow boxes is what needs to be copied.

The way in which JISC bids are managed and marked is under review in the JISC policy department and they are looking for a manageable yet user friendly approach. This challenge is not part of that process so we are not looking for suggestions for different marking systems here, it is purely a technical challenge that happens to be related to marking. 

We may be able to send a small gift to the most elegant solution but surely making Chris happy is the main prize here.  

A couple of resources to support jiscri bidders

Since JISC are not planning a briefing day for the 03/09 Rapid Innovations Grants call, we have provided a couple of resources to support the call documentation.

The first is a high level overview of the reasoning behind the rapid innovation approach and what we hope it will achieve:


The presentation used in this video can be found on the prezi site.

We have also provided a podcast of three JISC programme managers talking about the call and explaining the thinking behind some of the most important sections.

Download audio 

The example bid that is mentioned in the podcast will not be available for this call. Please look to paragraph 65 in the call document for the bid structure.

As always, if you have any questions, please post them as comments.

Next Page →