Metro Vancouver Selects Andornot and Inmagic Library Suite

by Kathy Bryce Wednesday, November 25, 2009 9:23 PM

Andornot is pleased to announce completion of a contract with Metro Vancouver to replace the integrated library system used by its Harry Lash Library.

Metro Vancouver provides water, sewerage, parks, housing, and planning services to member municipalities in the Greater Vancouver region of British Columbia. The Harry Lash Library, located in Metro Vancouver's headquarters, was established in 1971 and provides services for staff, member municipal staff, elected officials, students, consultants and the general public.

Metro Vancouver selected the Inmagic Library Suite, comprising TextWorks, WebPublisher PRO and Genie, to replace a Horizon system as its primary ILS, with implementation and consulting services from Andornot.

Andornot conducted an extensive configuration of Genie to reflect the particular needs and workflow of library staff and Metro Vancouver's complex infrastructure. This major project required rigorous testing before transitioning to production, with separate environments and databases for internal and external users. Knowledge transfer to Metro Vancouver's IT department was an important component to allow them to handle ongoing maintenance and modifications to the system.Metro_Vancouver's_Harry_Lash_Library_Catalog_screenshot

Metro Vancouver uses MS SharePoint for both its internet and Intranet sites. For the intranet, the Genie OPAC was adjusted to fit within a SharePoint page  viewer web part. Single sign on to MyGenie has been enabled for staff to easily view any active loans or order requests. For the public internet site, Andornot built a web interface based on our Andornot Starter Kit, which is also embedded in a SharePoint page viewer web part. Previously unavailable except to Metro Vancouver staff, the public catalogue is now available for searching by staff at member municipalities and other core library users.

An automatic data extraction utility, coupled with the Inmagic PowerPack Importer, automates the process of keeping Genie's Borrowers and login databases synchronized with Metro Vancouver's Active Directory system. More information on this process is available in this blog post. This utility is also used to extract selected records for the external OPAC.

"Throughout our project I was consistently impressed by Andornot's expertise, patience, and perseverance as they worked their way through a complex data migration and implementation process. They were painstaking in their information-gathering process and achieved a near-flawless data conversion despite having to convert data from both a MARC and Access environment. They provided thoughtful solutions to our localized requirements and were always ready to answer our many questions. We are very happy with the new features such as enhanced searching, canned searches, "My Genie" features, and our brand new external Web catalogue."   [Thora Gislason, Librarian, Harry Lash Library]

Please contact Andornot for more information on the Inmagic Library Suite or our consulting services.

 

Vancouver Inmagic Users Group Meeting: December 3rd, 2009

by Kathy Bryce Tuesday, November 24, 2009 4:13 PM

Metro Vancouver library staff and Andornot will discuss their Inmagic Genie implementation, and their new publicly searchable catalog created with Andornot's Starter Kit and Inmagic WebPublisher PRO.

Andornot will demonstrate how Google Book Covers can be added to search results and how to add a Share button to individual records to facilitate social bookmarking and emailing links.

Have a question about an Inmagic product that's been on your mind? Bring it to the meeting and ask us and your fellow users. If there are any particular topics you would like us to cover, please email us in advance.

Date

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Time

3:00 to 5:00 pm

Place

Metro Vancouver
4330 Kingsway, Burnaby, B.C.
Location Map

The Metro Vancouver offices are a 5-10 minute walk from either Metrotown or Patterson Skytrain stations. There is parking underneath the building with access from Kemp Street.
There will be a sign in the lobby directing you to the meeting room.

RSVP

RSVP by December 1st to Thora Gislason

Contact us for more information.

"Sharing, Sharing, Sharing"

by Jonathan Jacobsen Tuesday, November 24, 2009 12:09 PM

In my kindergarten, we sang a song most days about sharing (probably when one of us brought in a special toy, or a bag of cookies). I no longer remember all the words, nor the melody (which as a 5 year old I probably couldn't manage anyhow), but I sure had it drilled into me that Sharing is Good.

To that end, and following hot on the heels of our recent addition of Google Book Covers and Previews to the Andornot Starter Kit (ASK), today we added a Share button to ASK.

share_button

Look familiar? Yes, you've seen this button before. Just about every website has one now. What is it? A very quick way of letting others know about something you've found. Imagine you've been searching and searching in one online database after another for a very particular resource and... You Found It! And you're excited, and impatient, and you want to share the news, either by email or Twitter or on your Facebook page, or through any other social networking site. With just a couple clicks, you can do that.

This particular button is provided by AddThis.com. This site aggregates hooks into every known social networking site, from Facebook to Twitter to Delicious, as well as providing the ability to simply bookmark the page or email the link to a friend.

When you get your own button from AddThis.com, you can customize its appearance and the social bookmarking services offered, and sign up to have AddThis track usage, so you know how often your resources are being shared.

These buttons are available from other sites as well, such as ShareThis.com. You could also construct your own that provides all the same services: emailing, bookmarking, sharing... but it's far simpler to take one of these pre-built buttons, available at no cost.

Why should you have a Share button in your online database? These have become ubiquitous on the web. More and more users are expecting a site to have these and the ability to quickly click a button to grab the identifying information. As links are shared, more users will become aware of your resources. Search engines rarely index deep into databases, but they do index social networking sites, providing a whole new way for users to find and re-share your resources. This in turn may help increase your website's standing in search engine rankings, especially if you have unique or very specialized content.

A small but major caution: By default, the AddThis button shares the URL that appears in your browser's address bar. After searching an Inmagic WebPublisher PRO textbase, this URL contains a temporary variable. While the URL will continue to link to a record for a while, depending on the volume of searches on your site, the link may no longer work after just a few days. However, Andornot has developed a Permanent URL http handler that can be easily added to a textbase so that the URL that is bookmarked remains valid indefinitely.

What next? See the button in action here (search, click through to the full record detail page, and test the button by emailing yourself details of a book), then contact us to help you add a Share button to your site.

IE6 gzip bug solved using IIS7's URL Rewrite Module

by Ted Jardine Friday, November 20, 2009 10:21 AM

“IE6, that shambling wreck that clings with nightmare strength to its living death.”
Peter Tyrrell, Literary genius nonpareil

When Internet Explorer 6 was first released way back in 2001 it quickly became the predominant browser. It was much better than everything else out there. But now NINE years later, working with IE6 is truly one of the most frustrating things a Web developer has to deal with. In 2009, it has countless issues: problems with transparent PNGs, flakey caching, esoteric rendering, lack of support for modern Web standards, and the list goes on and on.

robot-jonny-ie6
Image courtesy of RobotJonny

This post is about yet another IE6 hair-puller: gzip compression. Compressing HTML, CSS, javascript, etc. allows content to be scrunched up so that it’s served up way faster while reducing bandwidth costs. It’s a great way to increase the performance of your site…except when IE6 is involved that is: IE6 does not correctly handle data that has been compressed using the gzip algorithm. This would be frustrating to deal with, but nevertheless acceptable, except for the fact that IE6 problems with compressed content only pop up sometimes, on certain machines, and intermittently. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. The worst kind of bugs are the ones you cannot faithfully replicate.

With IIS6 we use Port80 Software’s excellent httpZip module to compress site content (compression is available natively in IIS6, but it’s a pain to administrate, and doesn’t work well with older browsers). One of httpZip’s big selling features is that it accurately deals with browser idiosyncrasies; therefore, until now we haven’t had to worry about IE6 and compression.

However, we have recently started transitioning more sites from being hosted on Windows Server 2003 (with IIS6) over to Windows Server 2008 (IIS7) and Windows Server 2008 R2 (IIS7.5).  With IIS7, gzip compression can be easily and correctly implemented right out of the box. But we’ve discovered that in certain scenarios with static and dynamic compression enabled, IIS7 doesn’t safely handle IE6’s idiot tendencies concerning gzip compression. The immediate solution is to turn off dynamic compression altogether, and this seems to solve the problem, but that doesn’t sit right with me: do yet another regression for IE6 users that punishes non-IE6 users.

Therefore, on to saving the world from IE6, one workaround at a time! Seb Duggan presents a solution involving ISAPI_Rewrite which essentially sniffs out whether or not IE 5 or 6 is doing the request and turns off compression for CSS and JS files if that is the case. Sounds good (although he does a sniff for pre-SP2 IE6 only, which I believe is erroneous). However, we already use IIS7’s URL Rewrite Module and I would prefer to avoid bringing another cook into the kitchen. There’s a couple of obstacles to getting this working however:

  1. The current version of the URL Rewrite Module v1.1 does not support rewriting server variables.
  2. The IIS7 URL Rewrite Module has very different syntax.

So how did I do it?

  • Download and install the URL Rewrite Module 2.0 RC (Release Candidate) or wait until the RTM is released (don’t know when). This version supports rewriting request server variables so we can fake IIS7 into thinking the requesting browser does not support gzip encoding (because for all intents and purposes, it DOESN’T – at least for CSS and javascript files that is).
  • Brute force hacking and documentation reading resulted in the following (the handy “Import Rules”, which can be used to translate Apache mod_rewrite rules, wasn’t up to the task). The important thing to remember is that each dash is replaced with an underscore and each server variable is made all caps and prefixed with “HTTP_”. Oh, and looking at the RFC specs, “0” is valid for setting the encoding to nothing (“.*” didn’t work for some reason).
    <system.webServer>
        …
    <rewrite>
            <rules>
                <rule name="IE56 Do not gzip js and css" stopProcessing="false">
                    <match url="\.(css|js)" /> <!— Match all .css and .js requests -->
                    <conditions>
                        <add input="{HTTP_USER_AGENT}" pattern="MSIE\ [56]" />
    <!— Where the User Agent includes MSIE 5 or MSIE 6 -->
                    </conditions>
                    <action type="None" />
    <!— Don’t do any redirects, rewrites, etc. -->
                    <serverVariables>
                        <set name="HTTP_ACCEPT_ENCODING" value="0" />
    <!—Make it so the request’s Accept-Encoding variable is
    set to nothing instead of gzip,decompress -->
                    </serverVariables>
                </rule>
            </rules>
        </rewrite>

    </system.webServer>
  • Explicitly allow the Accept-Encoding server variable to be overwritten by specifying the following in the applicationHost.config file (required for security reasons). If you don’t do this part, you’ll get an "HTTP/1.1 500 URL Rewrite Module Error".

    <rewrite>
        <allowedServerVariables>
            <add name="HTTP_ACCEPT_ENCODING" />
        </allowedServerVariables>
         …
    </rewrite>
  • You can implement the above on a site-by-site basis or server-wide (rules in site’s Web.config or location specific in applicationHost.config or site-wide in applicationHost.config).
  • ie6-gzip
    Fiddler showing IE6 with compression off for .js and .css files (while still compressing all other applicable files such as .htm).

    ie8-gzip
    Fiddler showing IE8 with compression on for all applicable resource types.

    The usual caveats apply to implementing the above: we don’t guarantee any of it. If it kills your cat, I know nothing. If you lose your job because of it, it’s your fault, not mine. On the other hand, if it helps you out or if you figure out a refined implementation, please let us know.

Tags: IIS 7

Top Ten Word 2007 Features

by Jonathan Jacobsen Monday, November 16, 2009 9:34 AM

Up until a couple years ago, I was a fan of OpenOffice, the open-source office suite, and in particular Writer and Calc, the word processor and spreadsheet applications. I found they had all the same features as Microsoft Word and Excel, and the price ($0) was great. Sure, the interface was a bit dated and you had to hunt through endless menus to find features, but that had been my experience with all the versions of MS Office up to that point.

Then two events conspired to change my view: Microsoft released Office 2007, with a greatly revised user interface, and I took a job teaching other people how to use it! It's a bit of a challenge to teach something you don't use, so I dived in to Office 2007, and in particular Word, poking into all the nooks and crannies to master every last feature... or at least to keep one step ahead of my students. It was painful at first, abandoning the familiar menus for the new Ribbon Bar, but I must say, within a couple of months I was a convert. I truly enjoy using Office 2007 every day now. And to celebrate that, I put together a top ten list of my favourite Word 2007 features. Many have been around for a while, but are even more usable in this version, while others are new.

1. Push Pins

As you work on documents, they appear in the Recent Documents list under the Office button in the top left corner. A single click on one re-opens it for editing, until it's pushed off the bottom of the list by new arrivals. Clicking the push pin sticks the document to the list for as long as you need to work on it.

2. Table Styles

Tables are a great way to present information, and now, it's easy to make them pretty with the built-in table styles.

3. Smart Art

Attractive, easy to use, pre-created charts and diagrams come in handy and save time when I want to add some visual interest to a document, as an alternative to a table.

4. Cropping Images

I am often pasting screenshots of websites into documents, and I think they are tidier without the browser window around them. I want the viewer to focus just on the web page content. The image cropping tool is invaluable for quickly trimming an image down, without need for external image software.

5. Visual Previews

I love seeing changes happen as I make them, such as when resizing an image or previewing different styles. Such a change from the earliest versions of Word, where you waited many minutes for a page to re-render after adding an image!

6. Track Changes

When collaborating on a document, it's critical to see the changes others make. Enabling this feature makes that such a breeze.

7. Compare Documents

However, if your collaborators forget to track their changes, this feature will find them, by comparing two different versions of the same document. You can easily accept, reject and merge changes into a final version.

8. Inspect Document

After a series of revisions, changes tracked and accepted or rejected, and comments added and removed, running the Document Inspector is wise. It will let you know about any last stray changes and comments, so that the version you release is truly the final one.

Read more about issues related to tracking changes in these two blog posts:

9. Save as PDF

Not everyone has Office 2007, but most people have or can install Adobe Reader or one of several other PDF readers. You can save your document as a PDF directly from Word with no additional software required.

10. The Ribbon Bar

Last but not least, I've found that the grouping of features on the Ribbon Bar really does make sense. A skeptic at heart, I've come to enjoy using this interface over the options buried many levels deep in menus.

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