Technical Standards / System Design Part 1: Reflections

We have been discussing the Clipper toolkit with people recently as part of our community consultation process. One interesting question we have been asked by the digital library / information community is what ‘Data Model’ are we using? To be honest we have not thought too much about this until now as we had done a fair bit on that previously around 2009. So, a bit of explanation here might help us to clarify our position going forwards.

In the earliest phase of Clipper (around 2009) we created it in Adobe Flash and ActionScript using the Adobe AIR rich ‘internet application’ to create a cross-platform app (PC and Mac that is). This was a little before the HTML5 take off and the rise of tablets and smart phones). In that earlier project we did a lot of thinking about the data flows involved in the user interacting with audio-visual resources and what data would need to be gathered by the system to deliver the functionality the user needed. You can find a set of graphic flowcharts representing the data flow at this link. At the time we were fortunate in working with a colleague at Manchester University (Gayle Calverley) who had just completed a study for Jisc on the types of metadata needed for the storage and management of time based media in repositories. The report that Gayle created was thorough and really useful it was called the “Time Based Media Application Profile”, and it is still on line:

In the end we did not implement a detailed data model based on that study, instead we developed our own ‘slimline’ version based on user ‘walkthroughs’ of the system and ‘reverse engineering’ approaches to see what data would be required to deliver the functionality we needed. The metadata schema we came up with was based on Dublin Core. We produced our own report detailing our approach to metadata and, with Gayle’s help, mapped it to the Jisc TBMAP report. This approach certainly made our life a lot easier then and to extent it still does today, it is useful to reflect on this as we go forwards and I think we shall certainly be using this and Gayle’s report in Phase 3.