Google Book Covers and Previews

by Denise Bonin Tuesday, October 20, 2009 9:11 PM

Library catalogues are boring.  Face it, their dullness is only mitigated by the thrill received when your catalogue search results have either a link to the full text or a website or to an image or something other than just the basic bibliographic details.  Ok, some folks use the library catalogue to find books - on the shelf and in their library - but if you are not familiar with that book, how do you know if it is worth your while seeking out? 

See the cover and preview the book.  Now there is a way to liven up and to add value to your catalogue, with both a book cover image and a preview of the text, if they are available.  Just by having the book's ISBN in the catalogue database, a link can be made to Google Books.  With this link you can have an image of the book's cover in full and beautiful colour displayed next to the bibliographic information.  You can also have a link to the Google Book Preview, if it is available.  Andornot has long since advocated enhancing the library catalogue and added the Google Books covers and previews to its own Starter Kit.  We then suggested that Inmagic WebPublisher PRO hosted clients do the same. 

Several clients took up the offer and now there are many examples to show you.  Elizabeth Lamont from the Royal Victoria Hospital Library, who oversees the coordination of the McGill University Health Centre Libraries catalogue (try the New Books link), loved this feature:  "Nice visuals for our users. We particularly like the added information on book contents. All without any extra work on our part!"  Both Lance Nordstom and Marci Gibson from WorkSafeBC appreciated the addition to their library catalogue of "a bit of colour to the results pages".  When it was suggested to Leah Harms, the librarian at the Resource Library for the Environment and the Law, that she add this feature to her library catalogue, she said of the Google Books Preview example shown to her that she "had no idea how great that book was until I read the preview."  And after we added them Leah commented: "I really am very pleased with the vibrancy of the covers and the usefulness of having the preview links. They function to better pique curiosity much like abstracts do for journal articles."

You can also see this feature on a few other catalogue databases:  Northern Health, Interior Health, Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health, and the Resource Centre for Voluntary Organizations.  For best results, may we suggest that you search for books published since 2000.

Contact us to help you add Google Book covers and previews to your online catalogue. 

Andornot Starter Kit revamp with Google Book Covers

by Administrator Tuesday, July 07, 2009 10:59 PM
We've been doing renovations - raising the roof, adding re-bar to the foundations and while we are at it, we added a sundeck. What has this got to do with databases you ask? Well - at least in a metaphorical way - we think it does. One of Andornot's strengths is our ability to integrate a database into a website. To continue to do that - which by the way, we think is essential - we had to change a few areas of our base add-on product called ASK.

A bit of history

ASK - short for Andornot Starter Kit - started off as a desktop add-on for Inmagic DB/TextWorks, with a nice looking search page, a few well designed search results reports, a full display form and a fully functional data entry form for a typical catalogue database. This was mostly to help us quickly get a client's database up and running quickly and beautifully. I mean why keep re-inventing the wheel? We added a menu screen and navigational script buttons to each query screen and form to ease repetitive tasks. We eventually added a web search screen and a few web forms to work with Inmagic WebPublisher Pro. In due course we thought that we should have all of this on our website so we could showcase many of the bells and whistles that we have developed over the years. We set-up http://ask.andornot.com using the "include" file method that was added as of Inmagic WebPublisher version 8 with lots to show off.

And so it grows

We used the site as a vehicle for our search and results scripts (including several versions over time - adding revise search, URL Tamer, and AutoBoolean), our Email, Save and Print add-on, our Ordering cart add-on and canned searches. We used this product as a basis for many a fine looking site. But then we became restless - we wanted to add more, we wanted to change the undercarriage. We wanted to make it even better!

The renovations

The "include" files were frustrating our staff. While they were a good and simple solution, we wanted to have something more robust; something easier to maintain. As it turned out we had that in another format. We converted the includes to ASP.NET Master Pages and used our webpub results control, which our late great developer Nathan Mayr was instrumental in creating and which we previously only implemented for our high-end clients. It was time to share it with everyone.

The extras

So once we got the groundwork redone, we added the extras. Based on user requests, we had wanted to add book covers for a while, but what with copyright issues always at the door, we hesitated, but then Google Books with cover images rose to the fore. Imagine every book in your catalogue having a nice book cover image in the record and a link to preview the book all through a bit of code around the ISBN number. Note that if there is no matching ISBN at Google Books, nothing shows. The amount of information available at Google Books varies widely - see the title Knowledge and Strategy for a book that has a detailed Preview with table of contents and selected pages. A great way of letting your users evaluate a title better! Check out the canned search Example of Book Covers from Google... we have added the sundeck to the site.

The future

Who knows what more we can add to this already pretty groovy set of features and functions. Tell us what you would like. You are our lifeblood: we listen to our clients. Go to http://ask.andornot.com and be part of the next reno - we are thinking about a turret or a wine cellar or a bay-window.

Updated Andornot Utility scripts for Webpublisher 11

by Peter Tyrrell Friday, June 13, 2008 11:34 PM

As reported in my last post, Inmagic Webpublisher 11 broke some of our utility scripts. This release is compatible with WPP 11, and is still backwards-compatible with earlier versions.

Download them from our demo site at ask.andornot.com:

Andornot Search Utilities 1.9

Andornot Result Utilities 1.11

 

CSS absolute positioning while using ASK

by Peter Tyrrell Friday, June 13, 2008 10:22 AM

is NOT recommended.

Usually not added when you first install WPP, check your DBTWPUB.ini file in your WPP installation folder on your web server. Make sure that you do not have the line of code "WebCSSOpt=2" as our ASK web forms will not display properly.

You can edit the DBTWPUB.ini file in Notepad and either change it to WebCSSOpt=0 or delete that line entirely.

Below is the DB/TextWorks Help file article for more information....

WebPublisher PRO: Form layout

By default, WebPublisher version 4.1 and later uses Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and absolute positioning, so that report, display, and edit forms look as much as possible as they would look in DB/TextWorks.

WebPublisher detects whether the browser supports Cascading Style Sheets. If not, WebPublisher uses simple HTML (boxes will be left-justified, box labels will appear on top rather than to the left, and so forth).

Forms that contain Raw HTML or inline images are incompatible with absolute positioning. Forms containing these elements will have overlapping text unless very carefully designed. Therefore, simple HTML is used for this type of form unless you explicitly set WebCSSOpt=2 in your DBTWPUB.INI file (see below).

Note: DB/TextWorks tabular forms do not use absolute positioning, so this issue does not affect them.

You can use picture boxes in place of inline images to retain CSS formatting. The Image size option specified using Box Properties>Position in the Form Designer is used. In order for the image sizing to work properly, the images must reside either in the textbase folder (for example, C:\CATALOG\) or the folder specified in the Image field in the record (for example, C:\IMAGES\COYOTE.JPG).

To control whether the site uses CSS, set the WebCSSOpt= parameter in the [WebPublisher] section of your DBTWPUB.INI file equal to one of the following:

0 = do not use CSS 1 = the default behavior 2 = use CSS regardless of whether forms contain Raw HTML or inline images

Example

[WebPublisher] WebCSSOpt=0

Note: The WebCSSOpt= parameter affects all forms and all textbases, unless you override it using the CS= parameter in an individual query screen.

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