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A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk Interoperability? We Must Have QA! Brian Kelly UKOLN University of Bath Bath Email:

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Presentation on theme: "A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk Interoperability? We Must Have QA! Brian Kelly UKOLN University of Bath Bath Email:"— Presentation transcript:

1 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk Interoperability? We Must Have QA! Brian Kelly UKOLN University of Bath Bath URL: qa-focus/ UKOLN is supported by: About This Talk This talk describes the work of the JISC-funded QA Focus: About the project The QA methodology QA Focus resources Relevance to the archives sector A brief description of UKOLN will also be given About This Talk This talk describes the work of the JISC-funded QA Focus: About the project The QA methodology QA Focus resources Relevance to the archives sector A brief description of UKOLN will also be given

2 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 2 About Me / About UKOLN About Me: UK Web Focus: Web advisory post Long-standing involvement with Web Based at UKOLN since Nov 1996 UKOLN’s Policy & Advice Team leader Team leader of Interoperability Focus team UKOLN: National centre of expertise in digital information management Based at the University of Bath Funded by JISC and MLA to support the higher & further education communities & cultural heritage sector Background

3 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 3 UKOLN and Cultural Heritage UKOLN: Long-standing involvement in support for Higher Education & Public Library sector Have recently strengthened its Interoperability Focus team Due to changes in funding bodies increasingly working with: Further Education Museums, Libraries and Archives Examples: Workshops for MLA Regional Agencies Participations at key national events e.g. mda conferences, Museums & Web conference, … Provided (with AHDS) the Technical Advisory Service for the NOF-digitise programme … Background

4 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 4 Supporting Digital Library Programmes UKOLN has long-standing involvement in support for national digital library programmes: JISC's eLib programme (from about ): development of eLib Standards document, hosting eLib central Web site, … The NOF-digitise programme: ( ): development of NOF-digi Standards document, providing NOF-digi Technical Advisory Service, … JISC 5/99, X4L, FAIR (and other) programmes: ( ): development of QA framework by the QA Focus project Background

5 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 5 Promoting Open Standards We have advocated use of open standards: To provide application-independence – remember when documents were trapped into particular word processing software To provide platform-independence – allowing migration across PCs, Macs, Unix boxes, PDAs, etc. To support interoperability – allowing data to be integrated across systems To provide long term access to data – avoiding the digital dark ages To provide a coherent architectural model – which allows for evolution and integration To provide an open marketplace – allowing users to choice their preferred solution Open Standards

6 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 6 Not As Easy As It Seems Problems encountered: What are open standards?  PDF, Java, Flash, MS Word, … Advantages of proprietary formats Open standards: May not be used correctly (cf over 90% of HTML pages don't comply with standard) May not take off (cf. OSI & Coloured Books) May be difficult to understand or require technical expertise not readily available (cf RDF) May change in light of implementation experiences (wait until version 3?) In light of such issues should we (a) leave it to the marketplace; (b) have greater policing (penalty clauses for non-compliance or (c) develop an alternative approach Open Standards

7 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 7 Support For Digital Library Programmes The approaches taken in JISC’s digital library programmes includes: Use of open standards to ensure interoperability, wide accessibility and interoperability and long term access to resources Advice provided by funders covering reporting processes, project management, evaluation, sustainability, … Peer support infrastructure implemented to support sharing & collaboration (e.g. mailing lists for techies) No formal checking of compliance with technical standards and best practices Digital Library programmes

8 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 8 Stronger Policing? A lack of formal compliance checking: Sensible in eLib days when standards still being developed (Gopher anybody?) Nowadays: Web and XML acknowledged as key technologies We’re no longer building self-contained solutions Interoperability is key Funders seek to ensure deliverables can be repurposed But: Is a formal compliance checking service appropriate? Digital Library programmes

9 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 9 NOF-digitise Experience NOF-digitise: Lottery-funded programme to digitise cultural heritage resources Technical advice provided by UKOLN and AHDS Compliance checking provided by BECTa Comments: Formal compliance checking probably needed due to lack of experience by many projects Compliance checking can be expensive Compliance may be regarded as being imposed Importance of open standards may not be embedded within organisations Approach is alien to culture within HE Digital Library programmes NOF-digi TAS Web site

10 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 10 QA Focus JISC: Issued ITT for a “Digitisation and QA Focus” post to support JISC’s 5/99 programme in 2001 Remit to develop QA methodology to ensure project deliverables interoperable, accessible, … QA Focus: UKOLN and TASI proposal accepted by JISC After first year provided by UKOLN and AHDS 1 FTE split across two services Built on UKOLN’s & AHDS’s experiences with NOF-digi Technical Advisory Service Addressed various technical areas including: Digitisation  Web / Access  Metadata Software  Service Deployment ... QA Focus

11 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 11 A QA Approach The approach taken by QA Focus was developmental: Seek to ensure projects understand importance of open standards Encourage a culture of sharing experiences and best practices Appreciate difficulties projects may experience in implementing standards and best practices Develop a self-assessment approach for monitoring compliance Publish brief focussed advice for projects Commission case studies from projects QA Focus

12 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 12 Why Do Things Go Wrong? Networked services may go wrong (i.e. fail to be functional, widely accessible or interoperable) for a variety of reasons: Failure to understand the need for standards Failure to use appropriate standards Failure to use appropriate technical architecture Failure to test Failure to embed best practices … In addition there may be non-technical reasons (lack of resources, poor management, etc.) Such issues were out-of-scope for QA Focus – but there are overlaps with addressing technical problems QA Focus

13 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 13 Addressing These Issues QA Focus sought to address these issues by providing brief focussed advice on: The importance of standards in general & an appreciation of standards in particular areas (e.g. Web, metadata, …) The pros and cons of particular architectural frameworks The importance of checking compliance and advice of different approaches to checking But it's easy to provide advice. How do we ensure that the advice is actually implemented? QA Focus

14 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 14 QA Methodology We developed a light-weight QA methodology based on documented policies & systematic compliance checking Deliverables Policy: Web Standards Standard: XHTML 1.0 and CSS 2.0 Architecture: Use of SSIs and text editor Exceptions: Automatically-derived files Checking: Use,validate * after update Audit Trail: Use,rvalidate monthly for reports Mechanisms should be implemented to ensure the policy is being implemented. Findings may be used in- house, shared with peers or (possibly) reported to steering groups, funders, etc. * Example of lightweight checking tool – append,tool to URL

15 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 15 Selection of Standards Standards are important but may be immature, fail to take off, difficult to deploy, difficult to select, … “Ideology Or Pragmatism? Open Standards And Cultural Heritage Web Sites” gives an approach for selecting standards A checklist for selection of standards has been developed An online toolkit version is also available We envisage the toolkit supporting internal decision- making, with decisions documented (possibly for approval) QA Focus

16 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 16 Other Resources We have also produced: Over 70 briefing documents Over 30 case studies A simple online toolkit which can help projects in ensuring they have addressed appropriate best practices QA Focus

17 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 17 What Next? QA Focus project funding finished on 31 July 2004 Plans for the future: Seeking further funding to develop methodology in more depth in other areas (e.g. metadata, service deployment, …) We intend to maintain existing resources as part of our core work activities We will seek to embed QA in our working practices We intend to support QA approaches across other communities (e.g. FE & HE, museums, libraries & archives) We intend to make QA Focus resources available under a Creative Commons licence What Next?

18 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 18 QA For Other Digital Library Programmes Nightmare Scenario Digital Library programmes in UK, EU, USA, … built on open standards (XML, DC, OAI, …) National developments across public sector (government, education, cultural heritage, etc.) built on similar open standards But standards not implemented correctly or consistently leading to problems QA Across Digital Library Programmes There is a need for QA in order to ensure interoperability QA methodology may be appropriate for national & international DL community QA Focus encourages other DL programmes to may use of QA Focus methodology and resources What Next?

19 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 19 Applicability To Archives What applicability does all this have to: The Society of Archivists EAD Group The wider archives community You may be thinking: I'm an archivist – I don't do Web sites I use a dedicated archivist package and export data to the Web. Is this relevant? I work on a volunteer basis and have limited time, resources, technical expertise, … My wonderful CMS, Wiki, PHP scripts, … will guarantee it all works It sounds very interesting. I'd like to implement QA. Will you be addressing other areas? You may be thinking: I'm an archivist – I don't do Web sites I use a dedicated archivist package and export data to the Web. Is this relevant? I work on a volunteer basis and have limited time, resources, technical expertise, … My wonderful CMS, Wiki, PHP scripts, … will guarantee it all works It sounds very interesting. I'd like to implement QA. Will you be addressing other areas? QA And Archives

20 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 20 Society of Archivists EAD Group Web Site Simple checks of Web site indicate: Some HTML compliance errors Small number of broken links (including link to "EAD Best Practice Guidelines: from the Research Libraries Group" on links page) CSS is fine on home page Issues: Broken links should probably be fixed (esp. important ones) as this relates to the functionality of the Web site. HTML compliance is a policy issue and is affected by tools and workflow processes. Survey shows that some errors are easy to fix, whereas others are due to saving from MS Word document. Issues: Broken links should probably be fixed (esp. important ones) as this relates to the functionality of the Web site. HTML compliance is a policy issue and is affected by tools and workflow processes. Survey shows that some errors are easy to fix, whereas others are due to saving from MS Word document. QA And Archives

21 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 21 Checking With Limited Resources You may have limited resources, technical expertise, other priorities, … A technical audit may still be worthwhile: In order to scope extent of any problems To see if simple tweaks to publishing process can bring significant benefits To avoid your boss making embarrassing public statements ("Yes we have a fully accessible Web site" – you can't comply with WAI AA guidelines if your HTML is broken) Simple approaches to auditing: Use of Web-based checking services URI interface to the services Bookmarklet interface to the services QA And Archives

22 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 22 Automated Tools QA Focus toolkit provides access to various checking tools which are freely available on the Web Appending,tools to any UKOLN page will un tools (e.g.,validate ) Note also that bookmarklets are available for use in most browsers (use in Mozilla Firefox browser is shown)

23 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 23 You Will Want A Richer Web! You will want a richer, more structured Web service: XHTML pages may display more quickly XML (e.g. XHTML) resources are more easily repurposed XHTML pages must comply with standard RSS Example RSS is a lightweight news / syndication standard which allows information to be repurposed (e.g. what's new pages displayed in pop-up alerts, bookmarks, , …)

24 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 24 QA And Metadata (1) Metadata Not just for resource discovery – metadata provides the "glue" for interoperable services Metadata is data which is used by software If the metadata is 'wrong' interoperable services may break Unlike data, we don't normally 'see' the metadata – so visual inspection, user feedback, etc. won't spot errors QA And Archives Metadata is particularly important to the cultural heritage sector, who have long-standing experience in cataloguing, developing schemas, etc. There is a need to build on this expertise to help us build richer interoperable digital services Metadata is particularly important to the cultural heritage sector, who have long-standing experience in cataloguing, developing schemas, etc. There is a need to build on this expertise to help us build richer interoperable digital services

25 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 25 QA And Metadata (2) Training Cataloguing rules Input validation tools Centralised vs distributed Data processing Output CMS, Wikis, PHP scripts, … Data input Work flow Cleaning data Handling exceptions Understanding system Compliance with output standards Use by humans and software Accessibility, usability & interoperability QA Areas QA And Archives

26 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 26 QA And Archives Standards For you to think about: Are these issues applicable to effective use of archives standards? Is the QA Focus approach applicable? QA And Archives

27 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 27 Deploying QA Approaches (1) If you wish to implement QA Focus methodology in your organisation: Resources on Web site and ideas free to use You can download and tailor content of briefing papers (subject to credit being given) Extending the work: We primarily addressed Web & digitisation and just briefly addressed other areas We'd like to cover other technical areas We'd welcome case studies (you explain what you did & we promote you as good practice) We'd welcome contributions to the briefing documents … this helps address the sustainability of the resources QA And Archives

28 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 28 Deploying QA Approaches (2) UKOLN provide a Benchmarking Web Sites workshop for the MLA sector: Has been hosted by MLA Regional Agencies Hands-on workshop for participants Enables participants to check aspects of their Web sites, compare with their peers and learn from best practices and mistakes to avoid Addresses QA approaches to help implement best practices No charge from UKOLN apart from expenses (you provide venue and audience) See Would this workshop be of interest to the archives sector? If so, who could host it? QA And Archives

29 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 29 Questions Any questions?


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