Archive for the ‘Other News’ Category

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Greenstone workshop in Pohnpei, Micronesia

Ian Witten. Thursday, May 14th, 2009.

Ian Witten has just returned from giving a workshop on the Greenstone Digital Library Software in Pohnpei, Micronesia. He has given workshops before in faraway places, but this was an extraordinary experience. Pohnpei is a capital city that he’d never heard of before (have you)? It’s little more than a pixel on Google Maps, and on the way from Hawaii his plane landed on atolls uncharted even by Google. Organized by the Pacific Resources for Education and Learning, each of the 18 carefully-selected participants received a laptop to take home with them. They came from Palau, Yap, Chuuk, Guam, Pohnpei, Kosrae, Majuro, and Pago Pago. The hospitality was wonderful, laughter rang throughout the workshop — and the students were extremely dedicated, working into coffee and lunch breaks in a manner unheard of in laid-back tropical islands. In five days we all learned a lot.

First Greenstone-Mellon Grant Awarded

John Rose. Monday, May 4th, 2009.

In 2008, the University of Waikato a received a Grant from the Mellon Foundation to promote contributions to the Greenstone Digital Library suite which provide significant benefits to higher education, libraries, museums, arts, or nature conservation. The University is using the award to support the Greenstone community of developers and users, particularly in developing countries (see the announcement below).

The first grant of US$ 8,000 has been awarded to Prodigio Consultores in Santiago, Chile, to coordinate the launching of a sustainable, voluntary, not-for-profit Greenstone support network for Latin America. In carrying out this work by end June 2010, Prodigio will:

  • identify national coordinators for focal points for promotion of the Greenstone Digital Library software in at least 3 Latin American countries;
  • establish contracts engaging each national coordinator to organise a national Greenstone training workshop, provide technical support services for one year and to ensure development and public access to at least one new Greenstone digital library application;
  • create a regional coordinating and evaluation committee composed of representatives of the national coordinators and other Latin American experts;
  • establish a collaborative portal to inform and facilitate cooperation among Greenstone users in Latin America (including announcement of training events, news about and links to Greenstone collections in the region, FAQs, and documentation on Greenstone in regional languages);
  • provide technical assistance to the work of the national coordinators;
  • coordinate the work of the regional coordinating and evaluation committee with a view to formally establishing and consolidating the regional support network.

Additional support has been provided to enable Diego Spano, Director of Projects at Prodigio, to undertake a visit to Waikato to familiarise himself with the latest Greenstone developments and to discuss the development of the Latin American network.

Although Prodigio is a commercial company, it will be undertaking this activity on a totally not-for-profit basis. This work will build on the Spanish-language Greenstone discussion list which has been moderated by Prodigio for the past year. Further information can be obtained from Diego Spano.

The Latin American network will join the Greenstone support networks in South Asia (operating since 2006) and Southern Africa (operating since 2007).

We hope to award the remaining Greenstone-Mellon grants by June 2009 in order to meet the deadlines for the use of these funds. Interested parties are referred to the grant announcement:


Announcement of Prof. Ian Witten of 23 December 2008

I am very pleased to announce that the University of Waikato has been awarded US$50,000 for the Greenstone project within the Third Annual Mellon Awards for Technology Collaboration (see http:// matc.mellon.org/press-release). This competition is meant “to recognize important organizational contributions to open source projects which currently or potentially provide significant benefits to at least one traditional Mellon constituency (higher education, especially the arts and humanities; libraries; museums; arts organizations; and nature conservation).” We understand that the committee was primarily impressed by Greenstone’s impact in the developing world as testified by many users who supported our candidacy online, thanks to all of you who contributed recommendations.

The University intends to use the award to further the Greenstone community of developers and users, particularly in developing countries. This will involve improving the documentation, making tutorial videos, and stimulating the development of Greenstone capabilities and user groups in developing countries.

As part of this effort we invite proposals from the Greenstone community in developing countries for small grants (US$1000 to US $5000) which will be awarded in 2009 according to the following criteria:

  • one-time assistance (not a continuing subvention) for a project which will lead to sustainable follow-up: examples of activity could be organisation of user meetings or training workshops, expert missions for training and advice (particularly exchange of expertise within a given region or country), institutional exchanges or user services;
  • priority to regional networks and to countries and institutions in greatest need (normally grants will not available to individuals, but there could be exceptions);
  • priority to projects which are partially self-funded or partially funded by third parties.

Detailed proposals should be addressed to John Rose, Research Associate, University of Waikato, who will correspond with the submitting parties as needed to refine their proposals. Awardees will be expected to submit a detailed evaluation report at the conclusion of their projects.

Greenstone3 Goes Mobile, Ported to Android Platform

Steve Jones. Wednesday, April 1st, 2009.

Would you like to have a Greenstone3 server in your pocket? Now you can with our port of the run-time system to Android. Fire-up Greenstone3 on your mobile phone and then access it just like any other Greenstone server, searching and browsing multimedia collections. You can connect to it over a wi-fi network, an ad-hoc wireless network (device-to-device) or via a USB cable.

You may have read about our earlier success in porting Greenstone2 to Apple devices. We have Greenstone2 running on early (3rd to 5th generation) iPods (see details of our demo) and the iPod Touch (see our paper here). Now Greenstone3, our next-generation digital library software, runs on a mobile handset.

Specifically, it runs on an HTC G1 Android-powered mobile phone. Android is a project of the Open Handset Alliance, and is an open platform for mobile devices.

How does it work?

Collections are built on a desktop computer in the same way as with standard Greenstone3. It is the runtime code that we have ported.

Greenstone3 conventionally runs as web-application of a Tomcat web server. However, it’s not tied to Tomcat, and can be used with an alternative web server such as Jetty . Of course, these and other desktop web servers aren’t going to run on a mobile device. Fortunately the people at Webtide have created i-jetty , a port of Jetty to Android, which solved our mobile web server requirements.

Greenstone3 is written in Java, as are Android applications. Normally though, Greenstone3 uses mg++ for indexing and GDBM as its database. Unfortunately both are written in C/C++ which isn’t much help when a totally Java runtime is needed. However, Greenstone3 supports the use of Lucene (indexing) and JDBM (database), both of which are Java. Using these we can build collections such that only Java is required for a fully functional Greenstone3 server.

However Android Java isn’t exactly the same as desktop Java, so some modification of the Greenstone3 runtime source code was required. This mainly relates to as yet unimplemented aspects of Android Java and its limited supported for XML processing. Some workarounds were required because of the limited memory (192Mb RAM) and processor power (528MHz) available on an actual handset.

The runtime is compiled into a JAR file. This and other necessary Java libraries, along with the standard Greenstone3 ‘web’ directory (which includes the collections) is organised into an i-jetty web application directory structure. i-jetty provides a utility to combine this into a WAR file, with Java classes converted into the byte code required by the virtual machine running on the Android device. This is then transferred to the SD card on the phone.

i-jetty is then launched on the phone with Greenstone3 available as a web application and accessible from a web browser by specifying the phone’s IP address and the webapp context as the URL.

At the moment the code is in pre-alpha release state. It works but needs some further debugging and optimization. When it’s ready we’ll make it available separately from the standard Greenstone3 distribution but eventually we’ll integrate it to the Greenstone3 package.

Any enquiries, technical or otherwise, should be sent to stevej@cs.waikato.ac.nz.

Acknowledgement: purchase of the G1 handset was supported by the ICT Science Kudos Award 2008.

Greenstone Wins Andrew W. Mellon Foundation MATC Award

Ian Witten. Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008.

I am very pleased to announce that the University of Waikato has been awarded US$50,000 for the Greenstone project within the Third Annual Mellon Awards for Technology Collaboration (see http://matc.mellon.org/press-release). This competition is meant “to recognize important organizational contributions to open source projects which currently or potentially provide significant benefits to at least one traditional Mellon constituency (higher education, especially the arts and humanities; libraries; museums; arts organizations; and nature conservation).” We understand that the committee was primarily impressed by Greenstone’s impact in the developing world as testified by many users who supported our candidacy online, thanks to all of you who contributed recommendations.

The University intends to use the award to further the Greenstone community of developers and users, particularly in developing countries. This will involve improving the documentation, making tutorial videos, and stimulating the development of Greenstone capabilities and user groups in developing countries.

As part of this effort we invite proposals from the Greenstone community in developing countries for small grants (US$1000 to US$5000) which will be awarded in 2009 according to the following criteria:

* one-time assistance (not a continuing subvention) for a project which will lead to sustainable follow-up: examples of activity could be organisation of user meetings or training workshops, expert missions for training and advice (particularly exchange of expertise within a given region or country), institutional exchanges or user services;
* priority to regional networks and to countries and institutions in greatest need (normally grants will not available to individuals, but there could be exceptions);
* priority to projects which are partially self-funded or partially funded by third parties.

Detailed proposals should be addressed to John Rose , Research Associate, University of Waikato, who will correspond with the submitting parties as needed to refine their proposals. Awardees will be expected to submit a detailed evaluation report at the conclusion of their projects.

cheers
ian

Greenstone on an iPod wins “best demo” prize

Ian Witten. Thursday, July 31st, 2008.

A paper by four members of our group entitled Running Greenstone on an iPod won the “best demo” prize at the premier international Digital Libraries conference (JCDL), held in Pittsburgh recently.

We had other successes too. Of ten papers submitted by members of our group, 8 were accepted (well above the odds—the overall success rate was 30%). Here’s a slide the Program Chair presented in the opening ceremony breaking submitted papers down by “continent,” which also included New Zealand, as it has more submissions than Africa, South America, and Australia combined. It was a well-received note of humor, and the audience was quite impressed.

In the DL world, NZ is a continent!

Waikato visit report from John Rose

John Rose. Wednesday, March 26th, 2008.

I have been a volunteer research associate in the Greenstone team for more than two years, and was very pleased to be able to visit the University of Waikato, at the invitation of Prof. Ian Witten, from 5 to 19 March 2008 (this was also my first visit to New Zealand).

I live in France and have been working, mainly through the internet, to promote the use of Greenstone in developing countries. As a corollary activity, I have also been collaborating with Anna Huang to improve and test the Greenstone language interfaces with emphasis on those needed in developing countries. I had met Ian several times in Paris, and also David Bainbridge, but this visit was my first opportunity to meet the other members of the team.

During my visit I was able to experiment with Greenstone functions which were new to me, discuss problems encountered and future improvements, and consider with the team our strategies for more effectively reaching and involving users in developing countries.

Here are some of the highlights of what was learned and discussed:

Possible problems with Windows XP Home edition

I had followed the instructions for setting up an Apache web server (file library.txt in the Greenstone home directory) under Greenstone 2.80, and found that access to existing collections from the same computer was only possible when the collect sub-directory was shared with all network users (a contradiction since only one user was concerned for client and server).

Similarly, I followed the instructions for installation of the GLI Client and could neither create new collections nor access existing collections.

These two problems were consistent and replicable on my computer for several days, but without explanation they both stopped. I personally feel that there is some interference with the file sharing system under Windows XP Home edition, which mysteriously ended with the many manipulations that were done to understand the problems (there seem to be some internal system user names which may have been involved). Kathy Don is experimenting with Greenstone on this version of Windows. Users who are having similar problems are invited to report them on the Greenstone users list.

The reason for the problem that I was having with the GLI applet was found: the directory where Java SDK was installed was not in the PATH environment variable, which prevented the keytool/jarsigner sequence from functioning. When it was added to PATH, the applet worked fine. I added a warning to this effect in the GLI applet installation instructions.

OAI-PMH

Open Archives Initiative - Protocol for Metadata Handling is a powerful method for open access sharing metadata on the web (see tutorial).

I tested the OAI server under Greenstone 2.80 and it works fine (this is documented only very briefly in the OAI Demo documented example collection, but it’s operation is simple: one needs to have the Web Library - not the Local Library - running and to have previously edited the etc/oai.cfg file according to the instructions found in it.. When this option is active, one or more specified collections serve OAI data to OAI harvesters while the normal web access to these collections continues normally.

I also tested the OAI downloading function as presented in a tutorial on the wiki. This function, potentially very useful for collecting external documents for local Greenstone collections, makes use of the fact that, although OAI-PMH is formally designed only to share metadata, this metadata normally provides information on the location of the original document in the dc.identifier metadata field. But two major constraints were identified:

  • The provision of simple url in this field (as done in the “Rocky” collection at Virginia Tech used in the OAI Demo documented example collection) is not widespread; most OAI repositories provide a handle reference (DSpace) or the url of a webpage containing a link to the original document (EPrints).
  • In the Greenstone version 2.80, the metadata imported under OAI-PMH cannot be edited, justifiable in the sense that they were assigned by the original creator, but inconvenient if documents are to be integrated into a new special collection.

While I was at Waikato, David Brainbridge improved the OAI download facilities to recover the original documents in a all of the above cases, and to convert the metadata to editable form if desired. These improvements will be included in version 2.81 of Greenstone.

Depositor

This undocumented function enables a remote user of a Greenstone web library to submit documents to a collection, and to assign metadata to them, through the web without installing Greenstone or GLI. One need only enable the depositor (by changing “disabled” to “enabled” in the main.cfg file in the etc directory); the Depositor can then be called from a button on the Greenstone home page.

This function should be very useful in creating institutional repositories with Greenstone. It will be documented in version 2.81 (careful: to test it now, you have to assign the user to the “colbuilder” group, even though this has now been replaced by “all-collections-editor” or “personal-collections-editor” for authentication in Greenstone.

Formatting Documents within GLI

If Greenstone users want to manage the formatting of documents in a collection, they are presently obliged to do it outside of GLI (either by reformatting the original document or by creating a formatted html document from the original). Anupama Krishnan has developed a prototype function enabling the user to convert the original document (e.g. in Word or pdf format) to html and subsequently edit it within GLI (for example to define section headings and sub-headings or to improve the style of presentation) before building the collection. This function, to be included in version 2.81, will enable users in many cases to reduce the size of their collections and/or improve the quality of presentation by eliminating the need to present both the original document for display and the html version for searching.

Greenstone3

I was able to install Greenstone3 without any difficulties. It currently performs most of the functions of Greenstone2. The main difference for the basic user is that the formatting language for displaying documents is different, and may appear, at least at first, more complicated than the formatting language of Greenstone2. Dave Nichols is preparing to develop a graphical user interface to facilitate the formatting process, but this will have to await the completion of the basic formatting interface. Given the substantial benefits of Greenstone3 for advanced programmers, and the substantial overhead in maintaining two versions, there is a consensus within the Greenstone team that Greenstone3 should be developed and stabilised as soon as possible to replace Greenstone2.

Updates and documentation

I was able to point out some shortcomings in the latest update (version 2.80):

  • Several of the language interfaces (including Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu) not activated upon installation (the user should add them to the main.cfg file if needed
  • Example collections not updated on Sourceforge (now fixed).

It was agreed that the checklist for issuing new versions should be tightened more closely controlled for future distributions.

In addition we discussed ways to:

Collaboration with users

The Greenstone team is consists overwhelmingly of faculty members who are doing research in the area of digital libraries. Some technical staff (one full time and several part-time, including Ph.D. students) are available to support the research effort, including as appropriate to help incorporate new research results into Greenstone, but resources to ensure support for the international Greenstone community are extremely modest. I participated, in some sense on behalf of the users, in discussions of the Greenstone team on how to improve user support and collaboration within the existing constraints.

The following ideas were expressed:

  • Users as well as developers should be encouraged to use the bug reporting system, which can be used to report interface presentation problems as well as technical problems.
  • The regional and linguistic user communities should be encouraged to participate more actively in helping users in their regions and beyond, while in turn the Greenstone team could work more closely follow and support organised user efforts, especially in the developing countries (already Kathy Don is providing technical support for the southern African network, Anuparma Krishnan for the South Asian network, and Anna Huang for the language interfaces, all with support from myself on the “soft” aspects.
  • The possibility of more closely involving institutions in developing countries in Greenstone research and development activities should be explored. For example, major research thrusts in digitisation of newspapers and in audio-visual collections could perhaps include the development and testing of relevant applications in developing countries.

Workshop Map Started

admin. Thursday, January 24th, 2008.

We have just started the Greenstone Workshop Map, which shows the locations of all the Greenstone workshops and tutorials which have been conducted around the world.

Each workshop and tutorial is annotated with the city and country it was held in, the name of the conference it was part of, the date it was held, the university or other establishment which hosted it, and the person or people who conducted it. Just click on a placemark to view its metadata.

The map uses Google Maps, which provides a familiar interface for panning and zooming. We invite you to take a look!

Note: The map is for past events. Future workshops and tutorials appear on the Greenstone calendar, not the map.

SA Greenstone List

admin. Friday, September 28th, 2007.

A new greenstone mailing list has been set up for users in the Southern Africa sub-region.

The address is: sagreenstone@elibserv.unam.na

Renate Morgenstern, Head of Technical Services and Systems at the University of Namibia Library and the sub-regional coordinator for the Greenstone pilot project for Southern Africa, says:

“This is a test of the Greenstone users discussion list which has been set up by the University of Namibia Library in its role as sub-regional centre within the project.

“All Greenstone users in Southern Africa are invited to address their technical problems to this list, for which I will be the moderator. We are looking forward to your active participation on this list in both submitting and responding to queries. Queries which cannot be answered by the list members will be forwarded to the Greenstone team in New Zealand and the response will be given back on this list.”

Newspaper digitisation project based on Greenstone

admin. Tuesday, September 18th, 2007.

DL Consulting are pleased to announce that the redesigned Papers Past has now been officially released. Papers Past is a collection of 19th and early 20th century newspapers belonging to the National Library of New Zealand. The new site is a complete redesign, and is based on Greenstone. DL Consulting have been working on it with the National Library of New Zealand since mid-2006.

Read more at the DL Consulting Blog.

Greenstone Developers’ Section Lauched!

admin. Wednesday, August 29th, 2007.

The developers’ section of this website has been launched. This gives greenstone contributors access to a more extensive and more integrated set of online development tools.

These tools include greenstone trac, our new bug tracking system and source code browser, greenstone svn, our source code repository, the greenstone wiki, the home-base for greenstone documentation, and the greenstone mailing lists.

Programmers, language maintainers, document writers, feature requesters, and anyone else who wants to help with greenstone development should register as a developer. Once you are registered, you use a single username and password to access all of the greenstone tools.

Please post a comment if you have questions, comments or suggestions. Happy development!

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