A VuFind Index of Alaska North Slope Gas Resources

by Jonathan Jacobsen Monday, September 23, 2013 11:53 AM

Every day we learn about new and diverse users of the VuFind discovery interface. Just recently, the Alaska Resources Library & Information Services (ARLIS) contacted us for some help with "The Pipe Files", a VuFind-powered index of Alaska North Slope natural gas pipeline work from the past 40 years. This specialized collection is an invaluable resource to researchers and workers in this field.

ARLIS had been using VuFind for some time, but had a list of changes and improvements they needed help with. 

The records available in The Pipe Files VuFind site are cataloged in ARLIS’s main library system and exported to MARC format for import to VuFind. Records include a link to a PDF report stored on the ARLIS document server.

Over a few months, Andornot helped with the following improvements to the site:

  • We adjusted the VuFind-MARC field mapping to suit the particular characteristics of these records and to bring MARC tags into the most appropriate VuFind fields.
  • We rearranged, added, and removed fields from the search results and full record display to best present the information in these records.
  • We configured Apache Tika to extract the full text of PDFs and make it searchable.
  • We configured ImageMagick to generate cover images of the cataloged PDFs, in various sizes, and display them when viewing records.

This sort of fune-tuning resulted in a more polished and usable search interface for this unique collection. Try it out at http://www.arlis.org/vufind/ 

Contact Andornot for help with your VuFind site, or to discuss a search interface to any collections you have.

Andornot Newsletter–September 2013

by Kathy Bryce Thursday, September 12, 2013 2:22 PM

Please check out the latest issue of our newsletter.

Andornot News

  • Challenges of using SharePoint for Library Applications
  • Responsive Web Design and Accessibility

Inmagic News

  • Inmagic DB/Text for SQL and Inmagic WebPublisher PRO version 14 released
  • New Features Coming to Genie Version 3.6
  • Presto 4.2 Released and 4.3 On Its Way
  • Inmagic Newsletter, Blog and Webinar

Tips and Tricks

  • Edit Validation Lists through WebPublisher PRO

Tweets of Interest

  • Round-up of Library, Archive and Museum News

Please contact us for further information or to be added to our newsletter list.

Tags: newsletters

Responsive Web Design and Accessibility

by Jonathan Jacobsen Tuesday, September 10, 2013 1:16 PM

In our web development work, two concepts have become increasingly important to our clients and to us over the past year or two: responsive web design and accessibility. If you're not familiar with these ideas, or your own web sites and applications don't meet current standards for both, read on!

Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design is the practice of designing and developing a website that works as well in a desktop browser as on a tablet, smart phone or other size of screen. No matter how the user accesses the site, site elements and features rearrange themselves for best presentation at that size. This might involve hiding some elements or removing functionality that doesn't work well in one environment (such as removing pop-up windows on a phone view).

The screenshot below shows our new website as it appears on a phone or other small device. As you can see, the several columns of information are rearranged vertically for easier scrolling, the logo image is smaller, and the menu has collapsed, but is available with a click or touch.

Andornot Website in a Phone Browser

To reduce cost and speed up development time, we often use all or part of a framework such as Twitter Bootstrap or Zurb Foundation. Both are excellent, customizable, responsive web frameworks with all the CSS and javascript needed to quickly spin up a site or apply to a web application.

Examples

You can experience responsive web design for yourself at any of these sites. If you don't have a tablet or phone handy to access them, just resize your desktop web browser to simulate one. As you make your browser narrower, watch how the site responds.

Accessibility

Accessibility refers to making web sites and applications usable by people of all different abilities. This includes people with visual impairments who rely on high contrast or screen reading software to access content, or who use only a keyboard or spoken commands for navigation.

In all our web projects, we aim to meet Web Content Accessibility Guideliness (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA standards. Using tools such as the WAVE Toolbar, and careful use of CSS and HTML, it's not too hard to meet these standards, or to get very, very close. It's more challenging when integrating a web application, such as a library catalogue, with an existing website that doesn't meet these standards. Often, though, this is an opportunity to help upgrade the entire site to be accessible to all users.

You can read more about a recent accessibility project in this blog post about the Canadian Conservation Institute library, and try out a fully accessible site here: http://library-bibliotheque.cci-icc.gc.ca/en/cci-icc/lib-bib/search-recherche/.

Making your website accessible to people where, when and how they want to access it is no longer a luxury or "nice to do if there's time" part of a project. With the tools available, it's often less effort to make a responsive website than a non-responsive one, and with ever more users not sitting at desktop PCs, it's imperative!

Andornot would be pleased to evaluate your current website, library catalogue or other web application and advise on how well it meets standards for accessibility and mobile access; just drop us a note and we'll set up a time.

Hurrah! Andornot Launches New Website… for Andornot!

by Jonathan Jacobsen Tuesday, September 03, 2013 7:46 AM

Hip, hip hooray! Break out the bubbly! Andornot has launched a new website for… ourselves!

If you’re reading this blog post on our new site, you can see the fruits of our labour for yourself, and perhaps nothing more need be said. However, since this was long overdue, and a long process, perhaps you’ll indulge us and let us tell you the full story.

Why We Did This

All year long we work with you, our clients, to update your websites and applications. We’re usually very pleased with the results and love to talk about our work. Alas, we don’t always have time to practice what we preach and somehow never quite got around to updating our own website. We’ve always been good about blogging, tweeting and emailing about topics and projects we think you’ll be interested in, but a website re-fresh was somehow put off for another day. Does this ever happen to you? 

Finally we reached the breaking point: our somewhat older eyes could no longer read the text on our site, with its rather small font size! It had to go, and along with it, an aging design. It was time for something new.

How We Did This

We spent some long sessions discussing the look we wanted and came up with a list of other websites that we liked.  We all have very strong opinions, but fortunately we all agreed that we wanted a simpler, minimalist style.  Ted hand-crafted the layout and design based on our overall design goals, and using the Zurb Foundation responsive web framework. This ensures the website is as usable and readable in a desktop web browser as on a tablet or iPhone, as this is part of our standard approach to web design now.

We continue to use the Umbraco Content Management System and blogengine.net to manage our site and blog, both hosted in our data centre. Ted built up the new site in each of these web applications.

After seeing our old content in our new design, Jonathan revised the site architecture and rewrote much of the content. He tried to provide clear and concise descriptions of the key solutions, products and services we provide, as well as incorporate details of projects from our blog that will be of interest to you.  

Peter re-jigged the popular Andornot Search Cannery Wizard for the new site, so it continues to help you created canned queries into Inmagic WebPublisher PRO databases and the Genie integrated library system.

Kathy reviewed, critiqued and niggled over formatting and content changes just as with all the designs since the very first Andornot website 18 years ago.

And together, many months later, we pushed the big red button and pulled the large silver lever to launch the site. Hence the champagne.

What Came Before

Thanks to the Internet Archive Way Back Machine, we have a collection of previous versions of our site.

Remember that the design of these older sites are the product of their times, much like your high school yearbook photo. They’re embarrassing, but nostalgic.

Andornot Website 1997 Andornot Website 1998-1999 Andornot Website 2000-2004 Andornot Website 2005-2009 Andornot Website 2010-2013

How you Can Do This Too

Hire Andornot and relax.

or

  • Get yourself a content management system; it really does make website management easier. 
  • Make a short list of sites you like, for both their design and their content. 
  • Find a designer to create a look unique for you (or purchase and tweak one of the many excellent pre-created design templates). 
  • Find a developer to craft the HTML and CSS, and integrate it into your content management system or build up static web pages.
  • Review, revise and rewrite your content to be sure it speaks to visitors/users/staff.
  • Launch!

Let us know what you think of the new site, and please feel free to comment on any of our blog posts and subscribe to our newsletter. If you need assistance updating your own website, we’d be happy to help!

Month List