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In a similar vein to my previous post, here’s a bit of unfinished exploration. This time, relevant to the RUBRIC project.

Thinking about repository ingestion services, I began to wonder if there was a better way of mapping from an XML schema to an HTML form?

  • FEZ does it using a very complex HTML interface, which may have usability issues, and (I think) stores the mapping rules in a database. It’s a great achievement for the FEZ developers to have performed this amazing feat using PHP but I fear that it may prove to be a maintenance headache in the longer term and I am not of the opinion that this kind of configuration needs to be point and click in any case.

  • VTLS Valetdoes it using a rudimentary intermediate XML format that you transform into XML metadata via XSLT. VALET is one way only, and does not use the Fedora repository back-end for its workflow.

  • VTLS Vital doesn’t even try. It uses an XML editor. I have had the opportunity to express my opinion on this matter via the ARROW developers group. I think this is not acceptable, and there needs to be a way of editing complex metadata in a browser (and not through a generic XML editor component either! ).

  • DSpace and GNU Eprints  both do it using configuration files that cannot deal with hierarchies in metadata. I have written before about how flat metadata causes problems.

I like the idea of using configuration files for this kind of work, as they are easy to version control, and typically more robust than elaborate interface code.

A bit of poking around led me to XForms, a W3C recommendation with very limited support.

Even though browser support is still a way off  XForms does have ways of expressing mapping rues from an example data document to a forms interface. I used the free FormFaces software which is a single Javascript file that magically turns your browser into an XForms engine.

Here’s my unfinished simple demo. The html page loads a mods data file and rules in the page map it to form widgets. You can’t save the data anywhere, but there are buttons there that allow you to add new subjects – and yes it does deal with hierarchy, so it should be OK with the affiliation issue. Worth exploring, if anyone has the time.


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