Monthly Archives: August 2012

OAIS reference model

The OAIS reference model is a central piece of digital preservation. a new version (PDF), identified as CCSDS 650.0-M-2, has been released. It’s dated June 2012 but seems to have been publicly available for only a short time. Most people who know about OIAS know about SIPs, AIPs, and DIPs and not too much more, and I’m pretty much among the unlearned masses here, so I’ll just refer you to Barbara Sierman’s article, OAIS 2012 update, which has a summary of the important changes.

The state of file format registries

Looking through UDFR is like walking through a ghost town that still shows many signs of its former promise. The UDFR Final Report (PDF) helps to explain this; it’s a very sad story of a brilliant idea that encountered tons of problems with deadlines and staffing. What’s there is hard to use and, as far as I can tell, isn’t getting used much. I don’t see any signs of recent updates.

The website is challenging for the inexperienced user, but this wouldn’t matter so much if it exposed its raw information so developers could write front ends for specific needs. Chris Prom wrote that “it is a great day for practical approaches to electronic records because all kinds of useful tools and services can and will be developed from the UDFR knowledge base.” But I just can’t see how. I wrote to Stephen Abrams a while back about problems I was encountering (including my inability to log in in Firefox — I’ve since found I can log in in Safari), and his reply gave the sense that the project team had exhausted its resources and funding just in putting the repository up on the Web.

The source code is supposed to be on GitHub, but all that I see there is four projects, three of which are forks of third-party code and the fourth just some OWL ontology files.

If it were possible to access the raw data by RESTful URLs, even that would be something. So far I haven’t found a way to do that.

In fairness, I have to admit I was part of the failure of UDFR’s predecessor GDFR. The scope of the project was too ambitious, and communication between the Harvard and OCLC developers was a problem.

The most successful format registry out there is PRONOM. Programmatic access to its data is provided with DROID. GDFR and UDFR, with “global” and “unified” in their names, both grew from a desire to have a registry that everyone could participate in. PRONOM accepts contributions, but it’s owned by the UK National Archives, and this bothers some people, but it’s the most useful registry there is. The PRONOM site itself expresses the hope that UDFR “will support the requirements of a larger digital preservation community,” and it still would be great if that could happen.

Occasionally some people have discussed the idea of an open wiki for file format information. This would allow more free-form updates than the registries, and if combined with the concept of the semantic wiki, could also be a source of formalized data. I’m inclined to believe that’s the best way to implement an open repository.

iPRES 2012

iPRES 2012 now has real information on its website.

JHOVE 1.7, finally!

After well over a year, a new version of JHOVE is finally available. Really, not very much has changed since 1.6 as far as the software itself goes. However, I’m leaving Harvard at the end of August and asked for and got custody of JHOVE, so this version marks its transition from a Harvard-supported project (which, in practice, it hasn’t been for a long time) to a separate open-source project. The JHOVE web pages are now hosted on SourceForge, and all support and discussion will go through SourceForge. The jhove-support and jhove-users mailing lists hosted by Harvard will shut down in the near future.

This doesn’t mean JHOVE is dead. I may actually have more opportunities to work on it than before, now that I’m going into independent consulting. I need to stay visible to the library and preservation world, and this is one way to do it.

Meanwhile, I’m looking for contract opportunities. Please take a look at my new business site or my LinkedIn profile.

JHOVE web pages moved

The web pages for JHOVE are now on SourceForge. They’ll remain on the Harvard site for some period of time but won’t be further updated.

There’s at least a chance this means there will be a release of JHOVE soon. Yes, I know, I’ve been promising that for a long time.


Personal note: I’m now on LinkedIn and looking for contract software development work starting in September.