Archive for September, 2008

A small patch and a big trip

My first patch for VuFind has been accepted and merged into the upstream release. This was just a simple one-liner that now allows the use of the ‘&’ character in VuFind’s MySQL password.

Tomorrow, I head down to Hamilton for Access 2008. The programme looks great and I’m looking forward to meeting a whole bunch of new people there. I’ve been experiencing a conference drought for the past few years – the last one which I attended was the 2005 Ottawa Linux Sympsosium – so it will be nice to once again get that huge boost of energy and enthusiasm that I take away from these types of events.

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Peter Murray has an excellent analysis of the Zotero lawsuit in this blog post of his. The highlight:

I’d note that it doesn’t look like the Thomson legal team actually had anyone look at the Zotero code. The complaint alleges that “users of Zotero [are freely converting] the EndNote Software’s proprietary .ens style files into open source Zotero .csl style files and further distributing such converted files to others.” That isn’t happening. Zotero is reading the .ens style files into internal data structures in the browser, but it is not converting .ens style files to .csl style files and storing them on disk. Nor is Zotero or anyone associated with Zotero redistributing .ens style files.

On a less optimistic note, I was also reminded that Virginia, the state in which this lawsuit was launched, was one of only two states to pass UCITA, which was soundly rejected by other states:

UCITA has another indirect consequence that would hamstring free software development in the long term—it gives proprietary software developers the power to prohibit reverse engineering. This would make it easy for them to establish secret file formats and protocols, which there would be no lawful way for us to figure out.

UCITA does not apply only to software. It applies to any sort of computer-readable information. Even if you use only free software, you are likely to read articles on your computer, and access data bases. UCITA will allow the publishers to impose the most outrageous restrictions on you. They could change the license retroactively at any time, and force you to delete the material if you don’t accept the change. They could even prohibit you from describing what you see as flaws in the material.

It should be noted that UCITA was opposed by no less than the IEEE because they were concerned about the possibility of legal action of the nature of this Thomson Reuters lawsuit.

Will UCITA (or even the DMCA) be used by Thomson Reuters to justify their claims?

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After recently stumbling across Johannesen’s criticism of MARCXML, another interesting blog entry regarding cataloguing crossed my RSS reader this morning.

This post on Inquiring Librarian talks about the possibility of RDA turning into yet another missed opportunity to sanely digitize cataloguing data:

RDA is supposed to be “made for the digital world.” This is something I can completely get behind. But the drafts I’ve read (and I admit I gave up on them at some point, so maybe this has changed) don’t seem to me that they’re actually accomplishing that. It’s the right goal, but the products I’ve seen don’t meet it. And then it occurred to me: by “for the digital world” I think what the RDA folks actually mean is “catalog digital stuff” rather than “create data that can be used by machines as well as people.” I’m interested in the latter, so that’s what I was assuming they were interested in. But I’m now wondering if that assumption was false.

If true, this is just sad. This isn’t just missing the boat; this is missing the boat by a decade (or longer).

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Zotero is being sued by Thomson Reuters, the makers of Endnote and one of their proprietary competitors. The reason?

A significant and highly touted feature of the new beta version of Zotero, however, is its ability to convert – in direct violation of the License Agreement – Thomson’s 3,500 plus proprietary .ens style files within the EndNote Software into free, open source, easily distributable Zotero .csl files.

If you’re an Endnote user and wish to move your existing citations to an open and accessible format, will Thomson Reuters let you? Or will you, too, be sued for trying to access and manipulate your own data?

Just one more reason to use open formats on free/open source systems.

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…there is something so anti-XML about the way MARCXML was designed…”

So says Alexander Johannesen in this excellent blog post. I wholeheartedly agree with him – I’ve never seen XML abused quite like this.

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Evergreen released

The latest stable version of Evergreen,, can now be downloaded. It includes a whole bunch of fixes and is likely the last 1.2.3.x release before the 1.4 release candidates start becoming available.

In other news, I managed to import some sample MARC data into my installation without too much trouble. However, I suspect that my Postgres password unhappiness isn’t limited to the installation procedure, which I had previously fixed. I’ll need to investigate this a bit further.

I have also started on an Evergreen ILS driver in VuFind. I haven’t progressed very far yet.

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The folks over at Evergreen are busy getting ready for their 1.4 release. Apparently, the first release candidate will be ready for the end of September. In the meantime, they’ve also posted a video preview of their new acquisition system, which will be released in version 2.0.

I installed VuFind this morning, which was quick and painless. The only small snag I hit was with my chosen MySQL password, which included a ‘&’ character. The install script writes the password string to the config.ini file using a sed search-and-replace command. Unfortunately, the ‘&’ character in the “replace” part of the command inserts the original search string at that position (so sed -e “s/abba/cd&c/” would turn “abba” into “cdabbac”, as opposed to “cd&c”). I put together a quick-and-dirty one-line patch and fired it off to the mailing list.

I also checked out the SVN trunk of VuFind, Evergreen, and OpenSRF so that I may try both stable and development versions. I noticed that there’s still a need for an Evergreen ILS driver in VuFind, so I might make an attempt at putting one together.

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