Mar 232011
 

As part of the SWORD v2 developments, the Technical Advisory Panel have been busy discussing many aspects of the proposed new version of the standard.  This has been a lively and engaging process.  If you would like to read these discussions and contribute any feedback, you would be very welcome!

One particularly interesting thread came from the project’s technical lead.  The message concerns the scope of SWORD v2 (what areas it should contribute to, ans which it should not):

Hi Folks,

There’s been some great discussion on the list this past week or two, and I thought it might be time for a summary of what looks to me to be a key sticking point: the scope of sword.

There are two distinct sides to this argument as it’s been articulated on this list:

a) That we should adopt the approach of content management API like CMIS or more likely GData

b) That SWORD should be not say anything about what happens to the content once it is sent to the server.

In general, I am against (a) for a number of reasons.  First, I am concerned that the idioms that are associated with GData are not /necessarily/ appropriate.  The hierarchical file system is a common idiom but an idiom nonetheless, and it wouldn’t be SWORD’s place to therefore build itself over the top of it.  CMIS I have a harder time refuting or accepting, so am open to persuasion either way.  Secondly, I don’t see a reason to re-create a content management standard, since they already exist.  SWORD should, instead, provide support for the things that these standards don’t provide for our sector/use cases, while not preventing the use of them.

From a purists perspective of (b) the main thing that SWORD offers, then, is support for Packaging (with a capital P).  This is a valuable addition to the community since it is both common in our sector and expressly not covered at least by GData and I believe not by CMIS (though again, open to correction).  The support for packaging, though, needs to extend to a full CRUD implementation of AtomPub, which is a large part of what the profile attempts to do.  I think we have had some good technical discussion which which will allow the next draft of the profile to do better at that.

In the mean time, there are some grey area parts of the profile, particularly In Progress and Suppress Metadata which are more content management than they are deposit.  I, personally, think these are important; they are light touch, the profile doesn’t mandate the server to obey them, and they help fulfill known use cases.  Likewise the Statement could be viewed as more content management than not, although we have tried to pitch that as more an informational resource rather than an operational one (i.e. read but not write).

What I’m going to suggest for the next draft is as follows:  we’ll put some more time into analysing the appropriate ways of updating and overwriting deposit packages using the feedback on this list.  And we will extend the profile to cover how you would use the SWORD headers to be used in content management operations /if that’s what your implementation wants/ (e.g. how you might use Suppress Metadata or In Progress with GData).  There will, obviously, be plenty of time for comment.

In conclusion: we must constrain the scope of sword to something which doesn’t tread on anyone’s toes and is of value to the community.  Too far one way or the other and we’ll either be superseded or of no value.

Cheers,

Richard