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Edinburgh, UK
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According to the modus operandi of Linux server's software package management, installing search engine ought to be as simple as a single command line execution. On Ubuntu 12.04, the [Apache Solr search engine]( along with the required Java container/server such as Jetty, can indeed be installed through "apt-get install solr-jetty". However, this installs archaic versions of Jetty (6) and Solr (1.4). Jetty 6 is 7 year-old and EOL. The current official release of Solr is version 4.5 (Oct 2013) while the binary compiled from Solr trunk now labelled as version 5. For further details on the current development of Solr... Continue reading
I came away from a [DevCSI]( workshop: [paper-based agile design techniques]( beaming with ideas. The workshop provided a useful introduction to agile methodologies and card-based techniques. Agile techniques are relevant to [UX2]('s development of library systems and user interfaces, which are mainly working prototypes for evaluation purposes. Adopting an agile method seems logical. In a [previous post](, I described the work on an open source [library user interface]( The prototype has since been evaluated through a [usability test]( involving a group of users from the University of Edinburgh. This post discusses the agile method introduced at the DevCSI workshop as... Continue reading
A digital library can be underpinned by a search platform such as [Apache Solr](, which facilitates faceted search services. In my previous posts, I have described the development of a Solr-based search engine infrastructure, involving metadata and rich binary documents indexing of multi-sourced data, *viz.*, the CERN Library book data, content from a digital repository (Fedora). The search engine only provides underpinning services. It does not provide a user interface. This post outlines the work involved in prototyping a digital library user interface - [UX2 Library]( It describes the UX design, development made with respect to an associated open source... Continue reading
Faceted search is becoming a *de facto* search feature for websites such as online stores and digital libraries. From interaction design perspective, faceted search is essentially an alternative to advanced search - “[post-coordinate boolean operations via a navigational metaphor](”. It has a propensity to enhance the affordance of advanced search, as less efforts are required from the users to perform the equivalent and traditionally more convoluted search tasks. This post describes the faceted search infrastructure development of the [JISC UX2]( project. The infrastructure is based on [Apache Solr](, a Java-based faceted search platform. In [Part 1]( of this post, I... Continue reading
A timeout function could be the next best solution, although some survey/measurement should be done on the timeout duration. We didn't video or capture screen. I just reproduced the screenshots based on the notes taken on the user's steps. So the typo was mine! And I'm surprised too about the results. I guess this kind of validate one of the user comments about the fuzzy search. But the same can't be said about the spelling test we are conducting in the usability test right now. Yup we have some feedback on world cloud both from the user research and usability testing. If I have time in Glasgow I will show you some videos.
User research has been a key activity of the [AquaBrowserUX]( and [UX2]( projects lately. In a [previous post](, I outlined a scope of user research involving library persona development, usability testing and contextual inquiry. The activities fulfil two general aims, 1) to bolster usability research capability and practice, 2) to evaluate specific usability issues of existing library services. The research involves various qualitative and quantitative methods such that richer case studies can be attained without relying on a single approach. We have just completed the development of library personas ([approach and outcomes]( - two posts to come). Usability testing of... Continue reading
Searching and sifting through large amount of information is a challenging task and a norm confronting web users today. There is a need for resource discovery services capable of dealing with large search resultsets effectively. Previous research indicates a tendency for users to prefer interfaces that incorporate some form of categorisation and grouping of results. These types of UIs tend to enhance the efficiency of information seeking and provide greater user satisfaction. This post describes the development of faceted search, a resource discovery approach based on a type of category system which has become prevalent in digital libraries. A remit... Continue reading
We have been undertaking two [JISC]( projects: [UX2]( and [AquaBrowserUX]( Both of these projects are addressing user-centric issues surrounding the development and provision of digital library systems. In general, digital libraries (DLs) have become increasingly complex in terms of scope and nature, from a variety of repositories to virtual environments (see a [previous post]( New ways of providing user interface and user experience have emerged, for example the use of AJAX, novel interaction patterns (e.g. _[mspace]( and a multitude of user-centric 'rehash' of traditional library practices (e.g. tagging, folksonomy). These developments present challenges to institutions and wider communities involving in... Continue reading
This post provides a technical account of integrating Twitter services into a social networking platform. The implementation dovetails with a goal of the [UX2.0]( project, to explore social networking for digital library. Dealing with [OAuth authentication]( is a prerequisite of any implementation involving Twitter services. The requirement not only underpins identity services (federated sign on), it is also mandatory for consuming the API methods of the social network. [Part 1 of this post]( addresses this prerequisite and provides an account of how Twitter federated sign on can be developed. This post describes the development of [tog]( - an existing open... Continue reading
Resource discovery services for digital library have evolved significantly. There is an increasing use of dynamic user interface. New ways of user interactions are also emerging. Faceted searching for example provides a “navigational metaphor” for boolean search operations. It also results in greater user satisfaction ([Olson 2007]( AquaBrowser is a leading library product which provides faceted searching and new resource discovery features based on emerging interaction design patterns ('fresh, modern interface' according [SerialsSolutions]( These features appear to support better ways of searching: fast drill-down of results, enhanced search context. An interaction design pattern we explored earlier this year, through a... Continue reading
Everything is becoming user-centric these days. Signing on, the usual prerequisite to access additional features of a website is not as prescriptive as it used to be. Sites are now less disposed to demand user registration prior to signing on - a typical usability barrier. Instead, users can opt to log in by designating an existing identity provided by another site. Getting rid of the potentially disruptive registration process makes sense and in tune with creating flowing user experience. For example, users are more likely to comment on blog posts if their actions (and thoughts!) are not punctuated with lengthy... Continue reading
Digital library is becoming an all-encompassing term. [Google Book Search]( for example, has been referred as a digital library containing 30 million books. This coincides with a [generic definition]( a repository of resources accessible via the internet. The resources can be "born digital" and in Google's case, digitised version of printed documents hosted on a singular repository - a gigantic 'one-stop' electronic bookshelf. The precise nature of digital library is not important to end users who care more about the usefulness of a particular service presented to them regardless of its origin, whether it is a facet of a larger... Continue reading
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Dec 4, 2009