Research Data Spring Showcase  University of Birmingham

Just arrived in Brum to meet colleagues interested in RDM  tomorrow at the Jisc RDS showcase eventr #dataspring. Looking forwards to hearing what other folk are doing and catching up.

We will be giving a lightening / flask talk followed by a networking / chat session to demo the app and talk about future plans and our experience of working with the technologies we have chosen.

Making Plans for Clipper

As we come to the end of the Clipper project we have been thinking about the future and the thorny question of sustainability. We have decide to continue our work and are forming a small limited company to act as legal and commercial ‘vehicle’ to carry the work forwards.

In the short term we are concentrating on getting the current round of development completed and the code out the door to the community. We will then seek to promote take up – via adopting and using the code or subscribing to a service we are planning to launch later this year. We have also identified some other funding opportunities to continue with this work and develop related products using the same technical infrastructure. More on this subject soon

Testing, Testing…September 2016

We are now in the middle of a round of testing (mostly human, but soon with machines like karma and jasmine). I will use this post as a testing record and add to it as we go along

Thumbnails: Had a few heart stopping moments at recent workshops when the thumbnails seemed to randomly not appear – eventually identified the cause: the active area to load thumbnails in the search results from YouTube does extend to the highlighted text in some browsers – but clicking on the image in the search results always seem to work. Took a long time to work this out but now should be a straightforward fix.

Dropbox paste a URL link does not work – but it did in the previous version

Interface tweaks required: text in clip list needs to be better arranged. Video panel needs to be smaller.

Tags: being updated

Copy URL Button: needs to work again

Notes field: Active cursor area needs to be more clearly identified to users

Site Access Issues from corporate networks: Need to implement SSL and test again in different locations

Attribution: Auto Attribution of source content (Text and URL of source – to appear at the bottom of the notes page)

Licence Picker: for User Generated Content

Transition Option: Between clips to improve user experience and possibly display IPR info

Audio Only  Content: When playing an audio clip display a ‘slide’ with an audio icon? In the player area

Other Integrations: Vimeo and Soundclous

File sharing services: Further testing

Mobile phone Interface: Needs improving

W3C: Provide WA group with examples for validation / review

Clipper Jisc RDN workshop, Cambridge 6th September 2016 – sparking ideas

I attended a very busy and interesting meeting of the Jisc RDN (Research Data Network) and gave a presentation about our work in the Clipper project. Much of the attendees were involved with the Jisc shared service pilots in this area. The event was held in the historic Corpus Christi college and the main plenaries were held in the Mcrum Lecture Theatre – up a side alley from the famous Eagle pub (where I had a very fine pint of Greene King IPA – after work). You never know what may turn up at these events and it pays to keep an open mind about possible connections, this was one of those days when sparks seemed to fly from different ideas.

showing the overall between web annotation and data citation
Schematic showing the overlaps between web annotation and data citation

The day began with a really interesting and though provoking keynote from Danny Kingsley – the Head of Scholarly Communications at Cambridge. During this she mentioned the challenges presented by time based data such as audio and video (Clipper I thought!). But Danny also mentioned the growing field of data citation and the challenges this presented. This created Spark No.1 – I though to myself – well Clipper is actually a form of data citation – specialising in time based data (citing parts of a web data resource via a URI and making some comments about it in context).

But the more I thought about this as I sat in the lecture theatre I started to scribble some notes. Clipper is also a web annotation tool that is using emerging W3C standards in this area so that standard provides a nice potential for a vehicle to create and transport data citations more generally. This then got me thinking about the work we have been doing with the Roslin Institute at Edinburgh University in the project (see the draft ‘Clipper Snapshot Case Studies‘ document) where we discussed linking Clipper annotations to the DataCite DOIs ‘minted’ by Roslin for their data that linked to the time based media files we were annotating. The DOIs provide the provenance of the data we are ‘clipping’ and annotating, it seemed to make a lot of sense then in the Clipper project and perhaps now in the wider field of general data citation. After all, the content of a W3C web annotation can carry any information we like so it should be able to accommodate all disciplines and emerging data citation formats?

I was musing about this at the lunch break when I briefly bumped into Neil Jefferies (Head of Innovation at the Bodleian Library Oxford) who I knew from the Jisc Data Spring Programme. I was explaining these ideas to him when he added the idea of using the ORCID standard into the  mix to identify researchers and link them to their data – so that was Spark No.2. It’s an attractive idea – use existing standards (DOI, ORCID) with the soon to be standard W3C Web Annotation data model as a means of creation and transport for data citation. One of the advantages of this is that the citations themselves would be easily shared on the web and so accessible by search engines and analytics services.

Perhaps at some point it would be useful to do some pilot work in this area…

Some images from the Cambridge event  are below and here is the slidshare version of our workshop

Addendum: Neil got back in touch and suggested I look at the subject of ‘nano pubs’ – at first , I have to confess I thought of micro breweries! But a search showed up this link

It seems to map nicely onto what we have been discussing…hopefully to be continued.

Images from the RDN event are below


Where the Clipper project workshop was held
Where the Clipper project workshop was held – the ‘new’ part of Corpus Christi College
The old part of the Corpus Christi College where the other workshops were held







The Corpus Christi Dining Hall at lunchtime.
The Corpus Christi Dining Hall at lunchtime.

Clipper DRHA Workshop

On Monday the 5th September at the Brighton DRHA conference we are going to be presenting a workshop and forum about our new working prototype of the Clipper toolkit. Technical information about participating in the workshop appears below. This our first outing of the new system, which has been completely reworked from the ground up in Angular2, MongoDB (using JSON LD), using a NodeJS server. This has been a big undertaking for us, but is now beginning to bring big benefits and opportunities.

Here is the slideshare version

DRHA Workshop Tech Info:

Launch Clipper (NB use Chrome or Firefox for this test version)

To launch the toolkit click on this link – –  into your web browser address bar and hit return to load the site.

We have created a series of test accounts that you can use with user names ranging from clipper1@clippertube to clipper30@clippertube each with a password of the same name – e.g. clipper1@clippertube has the password of clipper1.You can also register to create an account of your own. Please note that as this is a test system any data you create will not persist in the long term. In the final production version of the system your data will persist and you will be able to download a copy to keep (in different formats).

Clipper Workshop: Bring Your Own URLs

URL – Page (MP4 / MP3) – Online Test Resources – with their URls

  • This page contains some online audio and video resources for you to use to as source URLs to create clips in Clipper
  • This demonstrates the Clipper editor working directly with online audio and video files
  • Copy a URL of your choice (just clicking on it will open it in your browser player if you want to preview it)
  • Return to the clipper editor and paste the copied URL into the field at the top of the editor window.
  • You can now play the resource and create and save clips using your chosen resource
  • If you have the URL for your own resources, you can try using them with the same method (MP4 / MP3 only)

BBC Video

Finding news masterclass video

Interviewing masterclass video

Scriptwriting masterclass video

BBC Radio 4 – Audio

In Our Time Philosophy – Daoism – audio

A history of the world in a thousand objects – audio

Welcome Trust Library – Video

Anti-Smoking Video

Roslin Institute – Scientific Microscope Videos

Clip 1 – video

Clip 2 – video

Animation – video

Big Buck Bunny -video

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – Audio

Yorkshire Accent 

Update: we had some very positive feedback and the interesting suggestion of working on a rich media portfolio system – which we are following up.

MECCSA Practice Based Research Symposium, Edinburgh Napier University

On Monday the 13th of June we present a short introduction to the Clipper project at the MECCSA Practice Based Research Symposium, Edinburgh Napier University. This academic grouping is one of the core areas that Clipper is aimed at in terms of research data management. So it will be interesting and useful to get reactions and feedback.

Slides are here as PDF

Slides are here on Slideshare

Demo handout instructions are here to download as a PDF


It’s the little things…Clipper & the W3C at Berlin

Trevor and myself attended the IAnnotate web annotation conference in Berlin this week, having been kindly alerted to it by colleagues at EUSCREEN. Having previously encountered the image annotation standard IIIF with colleagues from Digirati in the UK. Previous experience with standards had made us a little wary as sometimes standards work can lose  contact with practical everyday experience and become an expensive end in their own right, consuming vast resources but leading nowhere, – my own experience with educational interoperability standards confirms that  :-).

So, we were beware of getting entangled in a standards runaway – as it happens some of the other participants had similar reservations about past standards initiatives, including W3C ones. However, our experience of attending the W3C working group briefing on the development of the web annotation standards was like a great of fresh air. One statement in particular stuck in my mind – it went something like

“Look, we don’t care what you do inside your own [web annotation] systems, but when you come to share your data with the outside world it makes sense to do it in a standardised way – so that others can make sense of it and use it”

This was the turning point for me – the little thing that revealed the intent – that and the fact that the proposed standard is admirably practical, light weight and makes useful reuse of other W3C standards such as media fragments. Believe it or not I have seen developers and designers trying to adopt a heavy standard internally in their systems in a slavish and sometimes pedantic manner – leading to what might be most charitably described as ‘sub optimal outcomes’.

So, a great result for us from attendance at the conference – we also get a ready made data model that we can adopt and build on without having to dream up our own that also makes compliance with the emerging W3C web annotation standards easier and more useful.



Clipper @ I Annotate 2016

This week John and Trevor are attending the I Annotate 2016 conference in Berlin here is a link to the PDF of our presentation. The last 4 slides describe the new technical architecture of Clipper. We think it will fit well with the world of annotating the web, we are very much looking forwards to finding out about this area of web development as it fits so well with our plans and we hope our conference colleagues will our work interesting / useful.

Down the Rabbit Hole

In this third stage of Clipper Development we have, after some discussion, decided to change the technical infrastructure we have been using (javascript, SQL PHP) to a more modern, powerful and scalable set of technologies (Angular2, MongoDB, NodeJS, JSON-LD). This comes at a price some of it is very new  and still evolving (Angular2) and others are new to us as technologists and developers. In small team with fixed project time limits this presents us with risks and extremely steep learning curves. Our first encounters in creating a stripped down test version (‘Clipper Lite’) have confirmed this, yet we think the potential benefits outweigh the risk for future development benefits (speed – eventually!)  and  other related products and services we can create on the same foundation.

Hence the title of this post:

“Down the rabbit hole”, a metaphor for an entry into the unknown, the disorienting or the mentally deranging, from its use in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Addendum – September 13 2016

It seems to have paid off we are making some great progress now and entering a testing cycle before releasing a beta service and code for evaluation