Category Archives: dev8d

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:

  • University of Texas at Austin for hosting or11 and supporting DevCSI.
  • Microsoft Research for supporting DevCSI
  • Mahendra Mahey for organising the event
  • Peter Sefton for supporting the event and chairing the presentations and keeping the judges in order

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:

  • Drag & Drop
  • Upload and add, as popularised by the Flickr Uploadr and other such upload tools
  • Machine-assisted, e.g. a deposit tool that crawls the user’s HD for files to deposit
  • Network drive e.g. a tool that allows the user to ‘map’ the folder containing papers or accompanying media
  • Contextual community dashboard which draws on the ancillary information around other researchers in a particular subject area to create a view of the research community around that subject area
  • Tools embedded into existing applications, e.g. Microsoft’s Chem4Word project to support the authoring and rendering of semantically-rich chemistry information in Word 2007 documents.

<–!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

  • Tool: DepositAir IE Demonstrator
  • Works with: SWORD, DSpace
  • Platforms/Languages: Adobe AIR, SQLite, Ruby on Rails
  • Description: DepositAir is an Adobe AIR application which borrows its look and feel from the Flickr Uploadr. The user drags and drops the files to deposit from the source folder to the application. DepositAir auto-populates metadata fields such as title, ISSN, publisher, author name, and then sends the files and metadata to

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

  • Tool: ePrints 3 Upload Handler plugin
  • Works with: ePrints, SWORD, Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Platforms/Languages: OpenXML
  • Description: The development roadmap for ePrints 3.2 is focused on a more modular experience with better desktop and cloud integration. The plug-in works with Microsoft Word 2007 and Powerpoint to extract metatdata and media during the deposit process. Although the current extraction process is inline, the plan is to make it an unobtrusive background operation.

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

  • Tool: PDFMetaExtractor
  • Works with: ePrints
  • Platforms/Languages: Java, OO-Perl
  • Description: This tool searches the user’s computer for PDFs and then intelligently extracts metadata as well as keywords specified within the document. A known issue is that non-native PDF documents (e.g. those converted from Microsoft Word documents or scanned from paper) may return incomplete information.

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

  • Tool: ICE (Integrated Content Environment)
  • Works with: Microsoft Word 2007, OpenOffice, Zotero, WordPress
  • Platforms/Languages: Windows, Mac, Ubuntu
  • Description: ICE lets you create web and print documents from a word processor. You can use Microsoft Word, or the free Peter demonstrated the ICE toolbar in Word, uploading the document as styled HTML to an ICE server and then publishing to a WordPress blog. The tool is especially useful for thesis supervision, as it allows comments and annotations to be made without changing the content of the document.

(5) Richard Jones, Symplectic Limited

  • Tool: Dashboard deposit in ‘Publications’ product
  • Works with: DSpace, SHERPA/RoMEO, all major digital repository technologies
  • Platforms/Languages:
  • Description: Symplectic’s tools to link the Repository module of the Symplectic Publications Management System to digital repositories using all major digital repository technologies. Users can upload full text documents and supporting information directly from the Symplectic Publications interface. Copyright guidance is collected automatically from SHERPA/RoMEO and made available to users. A stand-out feature is that the author provides distribution rights information only if it’s available and/or necessary; the system doesn’t mandate that this information is present.

(6) Alex Strelnikov, UKOLN

  • Tool: Email-based deposit plugin for SWORD
  • Works with: SWORD
  • Platforms/Languages: Javascript
  • Description: The premise of this deposit tool is to encourage take-up and use of ‘1-click’ deposit tools by embedding them in trusted and frequently used applications, like email, or Facebook. The user can deposit papers by attaching them to an email and sending to a pre-defined email address. The plugin checks for an attachment, and if found, sends it to an analysis server where metadata is automatically extracted. Future development roadmap includes support of email threads.

(7) Jan Reichelt, Mendeley

  • Tool: Mendeley
  • Works with: PubMed, CrossRef, Google Scholar, ACM, IEEE and others
  • Platforms/Languages: Windows, Mac, Linux
  • Description: Described as “ for research papers”, Mendeley is more a workflow productivity tool rather than repository tool. It is a free research management tool for desktop & web which aggregates metadata from all papers added to the Mendeley research network via the Mendeley Desktop software. This indexes and organizes PDF documents and research papers, creating a personal digital bibliography for users. Mendeley has enjoyed takeup from users in highly respected universities around the world, including Stanford, MIT, Cambridge, Harvard, Aachen, Cornell and others. The company is attempting to redefine the space, time-frame and influences by which the ‘impact factor’ of scientific careers can be determined, by analysing discussions around research findings in social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and FriendFeed.

(8) Ian Stuart, Software Engineer, EDINA

  • Tool: The Open Access Repository Junction
  • Works with: RoMEO, OpenDOAR, all major repositories
  • Platforms/Languages:
  • Description: Known as OA-RJ, this project’s aim is to build on the existing EDINADepot to create a ‘middleware’ interoperability bridge between existing repositories which will act as a deposit broker system. The tool will help authors who are either not associated with an institution, or collaborative researchers from different institutions, to find the right repositories to deposit their work into. The system will automate RoMEO and OpenDOAR lookups, and provide an author disambiguation feature. Although still in development, the Nature Publishing Group is interested in using this tool.

(9) Joe Lambert, University of Southampton

  • Tool: Drag&Drop Deposit Tool
  • Works with: ePrints
  • Platforms/Languages: Mac, Cocoa
  • Description: This prototype updater is written with the collaborative author in mind. It tries to address the issue of metadata tools for time-starved academics submitting PDFs to ePrints. The development roadmap suggests an ideal user experience of being able to drag and drop multiple files into the application, which would return a report of all the metadata extracted for the user to check, approve, edit if necessary and then file to the IR.

(10) Viv Cothey, Gloucestershire Archives

  • Tool: GAip desktop curation tool
  • Works with: SWORD, DSpace
  • Platforms/Languages: Perl
  • Description: This tool stood out for being one of the only deposit tools to address archive and repository materials which aren’t academic research papers. The Gloucestershire Archives deals with physical materials as well as digital records, and faces the problem of taking “a 100-year view”. The intended user for GAip is an archivist – not the creator or the author. Viv raised the very pertinent issue of trusted storage. (Aside: anyone interested in the issues around long-term digital storage should read/listen to Clay Shirky’s Long Now lecture on digital durability.)

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

  • Tool: Map a WebDav or FTP drive directly into ePrints 3.2
  • Works with: ePrints
  • Platforms/Languages:
  • Description: The ePrints team presented a video walkthrough of this tool, authored by Tim Brody. This solution seems targeted at a technical IR administrator or author, as the interface design is definitely geared to people very familiar with the command line, rather than your standard non-techie academic user. It provides a browsable and searchable folder structure with ‘dropbox’ like import functionality. At present it lacks any automatic metadata harvesting, and requires the user to complete the deposit via a standard ePrints web interface.

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

  • Tool: EM-Loader (Extracting Metadata to Load for Open Access Deposit)
  • Works with: SWORD, the Depot,
  • Platforms/Languages:
  • Description: This project, still under development, is a proof of concept middleware that links the Depot and, a web site for researchers to build a web page listing their publications. EM-Loader’s goal is to make batch deposits easier, by handling multiple queries for metadata from web-based resources like PubMed, Web of Science, and personal databases such as EndNote, Reference Manager, BibTeX etc. Fred’s annotated presentation on the ‘From Swords to Ploughshares’ is available on his site.

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

  • Tool: EasyDeposit configurable deposit client
  • Works with: SWORD
  • Platforms/Languages: PHP
  • Description: The EasyDeposit client is a PHP powered configurable SWORD repository deposit client which can be configured to create a custom deposit interface for your repository. In this case, Stuart demonstrated how it can be configured to accept deposits via email using the standard PHP IMAP library to connect to your inbox. It extracts metadata from the sender of the email, the email subject, and the body of the message, which should contain the abstract. The script also adds each email attachment to the deposited item. When the deposit process is completed, the sender receives an email with a URL linking to that record in the repository. The script can also be configured for deposit via Facebook.

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

  • Tool: WordDeposit
  • Works with: Microsoft Word 2007, ArXiv, SWORD
  • Platforms/Languages: Windows
  • Description: Microsoft’s External Research division is working with several leading academic organisations and researchers to produce workflow support tools. Alex discussed two exciting repository developments. First, the fact that arXiv now accepts submissions of Microsoft Office Word .docx files and other Office Open XML documents. Second, the company’s hosted self-publishing eJournal Service, currently in alpha, which helps conference chairs handle submissions of papers, and subsequently allows them to easily select and share those papers (via SharePoint Server 2007) with one click.

(15) Seb Francois, University of Southampton

  • Tool: sWordInbox
  • Works with: SWORD, ePrints, WordPress
  • Platforms/Languages:
  • Description: Seb demod an embeddable remote uploader tool for ePrints, which he developed for the University of Lincoln. It addresses the use case more widely seen as individual researchers maintain their own blogs, i.e. it integrates with WordPress and allows the user to post their papers to their own blog once the deposit to ePrints is complete. There are still some bugs to work out, not least that embedding a login request into a web page has all the appearance of a phishing attack!

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

  • Tool: Xerte online authoring toolkit and Xpert deposit tool
  • Works with: Any LMS or VLE
  • Platforms/Languages: Web-based
  • Description: This is another of the tools demo’d with a focus on something other than academic research papers. Xerte is an open source suite of tools to rapidly develop richly interactive learning content. Content created in Xerte can be deposited into Xpert, a searchable distributed repository compiled by harvesting content from the publishing institution via RSS feed. The aim is to make learning content available for re-use, re-purposing and adaptation.

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

  • Tool: Copyright Licensing Applications using SWORD for Moodle
  • Works with: SWORD, Moodle, ePrints, DSpace
  • Platforms/Languages: PHP
  • Description: Another tool in development with a focus on learning materials, CLASM assists students and academics who deposit through the familiar Moodle interface into a closed repository designed with a librarian’s workflow in mind. CLASM is designed to support better management of CLA licensed materials.

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

  • Tool: Names Project
  • Works with:
  • Platforms/Languages:
  • Description: The last of the tools to focus on something other than deposit workflows, the Names Project is developing a pilot name authority system to address the critical issue of author disambiguation. It uses data from Zetoc, British Library and contextual information from research documents to build a database of all UK research authors which will reliably and uniquely identify individuals and institutions. A public beta API is available for testing and no doubt all eyes will be on the British Library and Mimas to produce what most think will be an invaluable system.
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 …

  • If you have a yearning to see library information put to best use and displayed to best effect
  • If you like developing compelling applications and interfaces regardless of the domain
  • If you’re into mash ups – but note that this competition is about any application, not restricted to mash ups

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:

  • Mashups
  • Aggregating tags
  • Semantic web and linked data
  • Data search
  • Visualisation
  • Personalisation
  • Mobile technologies
  • Lightweight shared infrastructure services
  • User interfaces

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.