JISC – Open Book Project

releasing open data for illuminated manuscript collection records and research…

It’s not quite so obvious (#3)

Part 3 – Putting it all together

Let’s start with a picture:

JISC Open Book Block Diagram

This is a block diagram of what the ‘Open Book’ project has deployed. Some brief explanations:

  • blue represents existing infrastructure/services, orange represents new ‘project’ infrastructure/services
  • the bottom line (of boxes) represent internal, primary datastores & applications (more later)
  • the middle line represents ‘middleware’ components which do not hold primary data, the exception to this is the CIIM which can be both (more later)
  • the top line end-points represent services offered to the internet
  • the Digital Asset Management System in grey doesn’t exist – but it is obvious that this is a key primary store/application which is missing… put another way it’s a ‘gaping hole’…
  • the orange dotted arrows are also obvious near future integrations

For those who are interested, below is the same diagram with some details about technicalities added.

JISC Open Book Block Diagram (with tech. labels)

JISC Open Book Block Diagram (with some technical labels)

So in summary the project is deploying the ‘middleware’ (which was the focus of the problem scenario and solutions/benefits outlined in earlier posts).  The middleware’s primary purpose is to provide services.

I went through all the theoretical benefits of this approach in the previous post.

I don’t think its too much of a stretch to say this project (in conjunction with JISC-Contextual Wrappers, JISC-Contextual Wrappers#2 and our own re-development of our online catalogue – ‘Collections Explorer‘) has brought us to a new level of understanding around how to build far more sophisticated, agile and adaptable information management systems.

Sophistication in that ‘best of breed’ software systems are brought to bear on previously intractable problems (when we were limited by existing technologies).  Sophistication is also present as an opportunity – we have only just scratched the surface of what this architecture makes possible.

Creating ‘secondary stores’ whose design and purpose is to serve ‘end user’ or ‘end point machine’ services means, at its simplest, more rapid development of those services is possible.  A secondary store is simply a re-arranged version of one or more primary data stores – in the diagram these secondary stores exist through the middle layer (CIIM, Collections Explorer and Triplestore).

The CIIM is the odd one out here, as it is able to act also as a ‘primary store’ – it can provide data & functionality which cannot be easily provided in other primary stores – namely the creation of ‘sets’ and ‘contexts’ either in relation to the secondary data it holds or brand new data. It’s a topic on its own which I’ll cover in my next blog. Suffice it to say that these features of the CIIM enable to storage of new data sets (e.g. for the project to implement and store, say, Collection Level Descriptions) and augment existing records (e.g. for the project to relate, say research data, to existing object records).

Agile and adaptable are not buzz words in this project – it is through development experience on the project that we know the new architecture provides these characteristics.

We are now finalising deployment of the services which the project has developed.


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