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

Challenges of using SharePoint for Library Applications

by Kathy Bryce Friday, July 26, 2013 10:56 AM

Inmagic recently blogged about the limitations of using SharePoint for library applications, and this prompted me to write this post sharing my recent experiences setting up a SharePoint site for a library catalogue.

We have been working with a client to create a SharePoint 2010 site for a new resource library to manage codes, standards and related documents.  SharePoint is this client’s preferred platform, and as their processes for getting approval for any new software such as a proper integrated library system are onerous, time consuming and often futile, it was decided to just accept the limitations of SharePoint. 

Once it was established that we would need to design a library catalogue in SharePoint, I went searching the web for advice and suggestions.   This in itself is not easy, as a core concept in SharePoint is “Libraries”,  so it is hard to differentiate terminologies and find results relevant to SharePoint usage in a corporate Library setting.  However the references I did find were mostly concerned with how unsuitable it was, although none gave any detailed specifics of particular issues.  I found one SharePoint based library system advertised, but the vendor website is no longer active, and I chatted to a reputed ILS vendor who mentioned spending three years trying unsuccessfully to port their ILS to SharePoint. 

The prospects for designing a catalogue in SharePoint for our client were therefore not promising!  I started our project with SharePoint 2007, but very fortunately the client was able to upgrade the site to SharePoint 2010 mid way through.  I would never attempt to design a catalogue (or anything else) in SharePoint 2007 again.   However with either version, there are still many frustrations, especially as in our situation we were not allowed access to SharePoint Designer which allows editing the underlying website and HTML.  We were required to work with our client’s templates, stylesheets and site structures to ensure a consistent branding across all their SharePoint sites. All comments below are therefore based on just the out of the box functionality available to a site administrator. 

Designing any site in SharePoint needs a thorough planning process, and discussion of this is beyond the scope of this post.  However for anyone contemplating designing a catalogue in SharePoint, here are some factors to consider.

Specifying content types:

  • Most corporate library catalogs will include different types of material, i.e. books, reports, journals, videos, websites etc.  Some of these may require columns (fields) unique to a specific type.  For example you will probably want to add a Frequency column for a journal but not for the rest.
  • By default, all columns show in all displays regardless of whether they have data.  (This reminds me of the original library systems which have now all long since hidden any empty fields!) SharePoint_1000x569
  • To get around this, we set up different reusable Content Types each inheriting from a core set, and different views (display forms) for each type of material.
  • Depending on your version of SharePoint and your specific site settings, there may be a lengthy list of content types and existing site columns to choose from.  There is a very rudimentary description of the expected content for each column,  but no indication in advance of parameters such as if the column type is pre-set, i.e as single line of text, multiple line of text, choice, lookup etc.  Changing a column from one type to another after the fact is often not an option.  Some may also have unexpected settings, e.g. the Route to External Location column.  There is no indication when adding it to your content type that this is a Required Yes/No column, or that it is a  persistent or “sealed” column that cannot be deleted!   There are 28 or so of these persistent columns including others with innocuous sounding names such as Article Date.
  • SharePoint has several reserved column names that cannot be changed. Therefore “Author” in SharePoint terminology is the person creating the resource (record), not the author of a book. It’s not difficult to add a new column for BookAuthor or equivalent, but on the default search results, all records include this SharePoint Author column which is of course inappropriate in a library context. “Date” is also included by default too, but this is the Date entered not a Publication Date.

Formatting views:

  • Most default views in SharePoint are columnar which is perfect for many types of information but does not work well with variable library data where for example, a title can be very short in one record, and very long in the next.  There is no easy way to force a set column width unless you have access to SharePoint Designer.
  • There is a Datasheet view option which is very similar to Excel and would be great for quick editing, but SharePoint does not support this type of view if your content type includes any Managed Metadata columns. 

Managed Metadata:

  • Managed Metadata provides a new taxonomy capability in 2010 which mitigates some of the other negatives when working with SharePoint. 
  • We are using this new column type in several ways: SPTermStore
    • As a controlled vocabulary for our LC Subject Headings so that our technician can start typing and any matching terms are displayed. 
    • Synonyms or abbreviations can be included, so we use this for Publishers so that they are findable by both their full name and their acronym.
    • Terms can be added in a hierarchy so we use this for specifying a general Location and then a specific Office where the items are stored.
    • Multiple terms can be added to a record quickly, and new ones added either on the fly, or through the Term Store.  (However there is no way to batch add an existing list without SharePoint Designer.)
    • Best of all, we can use these Manage Metadata columns as Search Refiners to produce a faceted search results page.
  • The downsides are that you cannot import records from a spreadsheet or use a Datasheet view if the list contains any Managed Metadata columns. 

Search Refiners:

  • We were able to set up several custom search scopes and set the default search to the Library Catalogue only.  
  • Our custom search results page is set up with multiple Search web parts including a Refinement Panel.  Choosing which columns to use as refiners is picky requiring editing a popup XML Editor, but at least it can be done without requiring SharePoint Designer.  However we have not been able to force a consistent order for displaying these refiners, so if a result set mostly belong to the same material type, that refiner is not considered important so it appears lower down the list. 

We have had to lower our expectations regarding what we will be able to accomplish without SharePoint Designer or any IT support. Fortunately the collection is predominantly virtual, so we have not had to think about printing spine labels or shelf lists sorted by LC Classification.  We now have a functioning catalogue and some workflow created with InfoPath forms to support requesting and approving new orders, but there is no question that a purpose built integrated library system would be preferable. 

It may appear that migrating an existing library system to SharePoint or starting a new catalogue would be a cost saving measure if an organization already has SharePoint.  However, as there are no commercial library packages offered on the SharePoint platform, any system will have to be developed and maintained internally.  This reminds me of the many library systems set up over the years in Microsoft Access that end up unsupported when the particular developer leaves. We have converted many of these Access databases to standard library software, but this can be a time consuming process as often the records have limited fields or authority control, requiring us to upgrade the cataloguing. 

Please contact us if you would like further information.  Check out our blog post on options for integrating DB/Text data into SharePoint, or ask about the SharePoint integration capabilities in Presto for DB/Text.

Tags: SharePoint

Inmagic DB/Text for SQL and Inmagic WebPublisher PRO version 14 released

by Kathy Bryce Wednesday, July 03, 2013 8:32 AM

All clients with a current Inmagic maintenance subscription for either DB/Text for SQL or WebPublisher PRO should soon be receiving an email from Inmagic with the download information for version 14.  Version 14 of the non SQL version of DB/TextWorks was released last year.

If you have a current maintenance subscription but have not received a notification email in the next week, please email advantage@inmagic.com with your serial number and email address so it can be resent.  Please also remember to let us know if your contact information has changed so we can update our records and pass this on to Inmagic.

New and enhanced features in WebPublisher PRO include:

  • Support for renaming query logs and starting new ones on a scheduled basis.
  • Ability to edit validation lists.
  • Ability to expose the Find button and disable find-as-you-type in InmagicBrowse.
  • InmagicBrowse can now update records after a validation term is changed to another term already in the list.
  • Improved support for Internet Explorer v10.

Please contact us if you would like assistance upgrading or would like to renew an expired maintenance subscription. We can also help you update your current interface to include the latest features available in the software itself, or with our add-on products.

How to Use the DB/TextWorks Runtime Version for Read-Only Searching

by Kathy Bryce Monday, June 10, 2013 6:19 PM

The DB/TextWorks runtime version is a free, search-only version of the non-SQL DB/TextWorks.  It’s a useful tool for providing access to a textbase just for searching.   Originally it was a popular way of distributing a textbase on a CD, but now it's often used in these scenarios:

  • Archives or library reading rooms with no internet or network access.
  • Very small law firm libraries without an intranet for staff searching.
  • Prisons or correctional institutes where the inmates have no internet or network access or there is concern about tampering with the data.
  • One time anniversary projects to distribute searchable copies of a textbase.

Although there are multiple ways of publishing DB/TextWorks textbases on the web or intranet, we still regularly get requests for assistance with setting up runtime instances, so we’ve written up the following guidelines and best practices.

The first step in any runtime implementation is to read the DB/TextWorks online Help.  Search for “runtime” and read the licensing section, how to install the software and what to give end users or transfer to the PC where it is to be installed.  You will need to have downloaded the runtime installation kit from the Inmagic extranet.  Depending on the version this was included in the DB/TextWorks download zip file and appears as a  \runtime folder, or more recently it is available as a separate download.  Login using the credentials from your most recent emailed download notification from Inmagic to download the install kit.  

Important considerations:

  • Only one user can access the runtime version at a time.
  • Exclusive access to a textbase is required, so you cannot install the runtime on a network server and set it to search your live textbases.
  • The textbases are read-only once installed on the target PC.  This means you will not be able to adjust any query screens or reports on the target PC.
  • If you have links to images or documents in your textbases, the runtime version requires linked files to be in the same folder as the textbase.

Over the years our preferred procedure for creating and updating runtime versions has evolved to the following:

  • Create a folder called DB/Text_Runtime and unzip the install kit files.
  • Create a copy of the textbase that you wish to make available through the runtime version in this folder. (Name it to distinguish from the original such as CatalogRuntime.) (Menu screen > Manage Textbases > Copy Textbase).
  • If desired, open this new textbase and search for and Batch Delete any records that should not be included. (Records > Batch Delete)
  • Open this new textbase and set defaults for  query screens and forms appropriate for runtime users (Maintain > Change Textbase Defaults)
  • Optionally, remove extraneous forms to avoid confusion – most runtime users will only need a couple of reports (Maintain > Manage Textbase Elements)
  • Edit these chosen query screens and forms to add more search tips or information suitable for new or infrequent users. (Search > Design Query Screen or Display > Design Form)
  • Copy any linked image or document files that you want to make accessible into this same folder.BatchModify
  • Batch modify the fields for image or document links to remove pathing information.  (Records> Batch Modify. Choose Substitute Text and Affects Matching e.g. if a typical entry is N:\Archives\Images\2012-01-67.jpg  enter the path to the last \ in the Old Entry box (N:\Archives\Images\) and leave the New Entry box blank. This will leave just 2012-01-67.jpg  in the field.)  You may need to run several separate batch modifications if you have linked files in many different folders.
  • Create an introductory menu screen in the same folder setting the preferred query screen and forms. (Menu Screens > Design > Create > Box Properties > Initial Elements).  You may wish this to contain contact and additional explanatory information.

To install the runtime version:

  • Copy over the entire DB/Text_Runtime folder as created above (make sure to close the runtime textbase first).
  • Run setup.exe and follow the install instructions.
  • When DB/TextWorks first opens, Select the appropriate menu screen ( Menu Screens > Select).
  • Customize the toolbars to remove extraneous or confusing icons, i.e. the Sort Report and Select Form icons if you have specified only one report of each type. (Tools > Customize Toolbar).
  • Any adjustments to query screens or report forms or the data itself will need to be made on the original version and the files copied over again.  Always be sure the textbase is not open when copying the files.

To update the runtime databases:

  • Export and Import records from your working textbase rather than using Copy Textbase again unless you are OK with repeating all the steps above each time. 
  • Use Copy Textbase to create a new copy of the Runtime version of the textbase instead.import
  • In your working textbase, search for all new or modified records (or just the subset you wish to make available through the runtime version).
  • Export in Inmagic Tagged Format (File > Export. Inmagic Tagged | Current Record Set | All fields)
  • Switch to your Runtime textbase and Import.  (File > Import.  Inmagic Tagged | Add/Replace = Check for Matching Records & Replace Fields matching on your textbase unique record identifier field.  (You should always have an Automatic Number type field such as Record ID.) Accept New Record if Match Not Found)  The screenshot is from version 14 which added the ability to set up Import Profiles so you can retain these settings for the next update.
  • If you have image or document links you will need to batch modify these for any new or updated records and ensure that you copy over these files into the runtime folder too. 
  • Delete the original runtime textbase and rename the new version to the original name (Manage Textbases > Delete and then Rename). This ensures your menu screen still links correctly.

Setting up and maintaining the runtime version can be quite time consuming!  If you do have an intranet or web site, please contact us to discuss the various options for publishing your textbases.  We can also host authenticated sites if you do not have your own intranet or webserver. 

An important update from Inmagic

by Kathy Bryce Monday, June 10, 2013 1:44 PM

SydneyPLUS, the leading global developer of knowledge management solutions, announced yesterday that SydneyPLUS and all of its affiliated companies – Inmagic Canada Software, Cuadra Associates, Questor Systems, LookUp Precision, LawPort, and Incite Software Solutions – will now operate as one company under the new name Lucidea Corporation. All products will retain their brand names, and will continue to be enhanced and supported by Lucidea.

"The creation of a consolidated corporate structure allows Lucidea to more effectively leverage combined resources to support strategic initiatives in product development, sales and marketing, and implementation services. Innovation and growth in these areas will enable Lucidea to more quickly deliver exciting products and enhancements to its rapidly expanding global customer base. "

If you have questions about the specifics of the change,  Inmagic have put together some resources to address them. You can find the customer FAQ, the press release announcing Lucidea, a new corporate overview, and consolidated product information, at the new corporate website, www.lucidea.com.

For our Inmagic customers, we will be still be your reseller and it will be “business as usual” with the same contacts, emails and phone numbers.  Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about this announcement.

Tags: Inmagic

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