IslandoraCamp UK - Day One

I'm away from the Digital Scholarship Unit this week in semi-sunny London,  as an instructor for Islandora Camp UK. Here are some of my notes:

Note: Fresh and Maybe Flawed.


Camp started this morning in a basement room of the King’s college Strand campus. Altogether, we are 20 folks from Canada, Korea, Germany, Italy, Croatia, and areas of the UK. Our morning roundtable discussion revealed that our professions are as diverse as our countries of origin - there are developers (of course) as well as librarians, archives, administrators, private company service providers, and government staff. But we’re unified by our interests - In no particular order, the leitmotifs of IslandoraCamp UK are shaping up to be:

  • The Institutional Repository
  • Multisites
  • RDF/Linked Data
  • Long-term preservation
  • Archives and Islandora
  • Running at Head & Migration (Systems Sustainability)
  • Internationalization


After a very animated morning break, it was time for show and tell. Nick Ruest showed off his WARC Solution pack for archiving websites.  It looks like this. Particularly cool is the idea of running a local wayback machine to show off the archived files.  

Nick then showed some great new content views he’s been building using Islandora Solr Views. This module isn’t part of the current release, basically because it doesn’t respect access control. But, it is great for an open collection, and particularly impressive in the hands of Nick and his (York’s) rich metadata. Nick showed us how he’s leveraging Infinite Scroll to show off 11,000 digitized slides, and a beautiful map of georeferenced assets using leaflet.js.

We also took a look at Innisfil Public Library’s “Faces of Innisfil” project. This awesome public library is using the Islandora Simple Workflow Module to crowdsource community photos, which are then vetted by a site administrator. 

At this point, there was a discussion of Biological Data sets in Islandora. Giancarlo Birella presented on the V2P2 repository for storing, searching, and sharing data from research on plant microorganism-virus interactions. Mike Haft, from the Freshwater Biological Association had stories from the trenches, and many good suggestions for useful tools and existing taxonomies. 
A great initial output of Giancarlo’s project has been a documentation wiki V2P2 Repository Dev Zone. As a convener of the documentation group, I’m definitely bookmarking this to see how we might be able to promote or contribute to this work. 

We talked about Darwin Core, which, as Mike pointed out, is good for samples, but not for books. This sparked a discussion of repositories using mixed schemas (for example MODS for book records and Darwin Core for specimens). An interesting outshoot of this question was whether attendees wanted to consume other taxonomical authorities, or wanted to be sources of taxonomical authority. Donald also talked about the progress made in the OAI module over the last release cycle, which has really emerged as a great way of publishing metadata. Also good for folks to know: D6 had a harvester for OAI, but D7 does not - 

The camp then shifted to a discussion of the peculiarities of different systems infrastructures and the challenges this poses for generalizing different migration, ingestion, and update scripts in diverse server environments (particularly when the scripts need to be reviewed for any sensitive information). Donald Moses provided a tour of the Robertson Library (UPEI) Github Organization, including the scripts his team has published. The general consensus is that the more public-facing tools, the better.  

Donald also showed off the Newspaper Solution Pack in  UPEI has built a very nice landing page for the Newspaper level of the collection, and a calendar view of the repository contents. The newspaper pack’s native ITQL queries were slowing down the system, as did an attempt to swap out ITQL with one large Solr query. The solution was to leverage smaller custom Solr queries in a module that will be released in the next cycle. 

Nick also gave us an overview of how he has overwritten default urls to make them prettier and more informative using an Islandora Path Auto module written by “Rosie,” Rosemary le Faive (who is sadly not at camp). Leveraging Drupal’s path auto module, you can use this code to set up URL patterns using tokens. This hasn’t been offered as a release module, because the default SPARQL query is hardcoded, and has to be edited to accommodate each project. 

at 11:45 the air conditioning kicks in. It’s a good moment for everybody in a tiny room with a bunch of people and computers. Offhanded comments are made about SKOS vs MADS.

The last presentation before we move to the release modules is about a new viewer for the Video solution pack (video.js). Watch for Nick’s link on the lists in the coming weeks! 

After lunch, we finished a discussion of tools and modules in the latest Islandora release, which led to a discussion of why certain things wind up in the release and some things don’t, which meant looking at some Travis files to determine how contributors prepare contributions and a quick tour of the developer documentation. In the end, we toured all of the currently released modules and tools, including the new digital preservation suite, image annotation module, command-line batch ingests, and lots of others. We talked media annotation and the media fragments spec.

Alan gave us a tour of a new Xquery module for Islandora that allows for batch editing of repository content - this means you can do things like find and replace text across the whole repository. This seems very powerful, and also terrifying (thank goodness there is a preview query function). As Alan pointed out, the bigger your xquery, the more chance there is of making a mistake. For now, it was exciting enough to see Alan batch edit the DC of several objects to make the content UPPERCASE. Finally, Islandora has its very own Kanye West Button. 

When we were talking about XML Form Builder, it became clear that this tool has uses we are still figuring out. In particular, various Drupal modules can be leveraged by the form builder. Nick demoed the use of Chosen for better select lists, and Donald talked about Taxonomies and Forms. It would be great to get a coordinate picker in there from one of Drupal's many map modules.

The end-of-day Installfest went pretty well, but revealed that some windows users have to edit BIOS in order to use the new VM (which is 64 bit instead of 32 bit). Tomorrow, we split into our administrative and developer streams. As always, I wish I could be sitting in both places at once... 

If this sounds interesting, come to Islandora Camp GTA!