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Number 2/2001

Publishing the FSD data catalogue in the WWW

Matti Heinonen 7.6.2001


Acronym jungle

The FSD uses the DDI description language in describing its materials. The DDI is an XML application which is easily machine processed. The descriptions cannot be published on the Internet straight on because the WWW browsers do not yet support XML properly. They can, however, be easily transformed to normal HTML pages by using another XML application called XSL. The XSL is an XML application defining transformation rules between different forms of representation, say from DDI to HTML. An XSL document is called a stylesheet.

In addition, the FSD has at its disposal an operative database called TIIPII. Information on processing and management of the materials is stored in the database. It consists of, for instance, data on the archiving status of different parts of the materials, the location of various files in the file system and their readiness for publication, and so on .

These two information sources contain all necessary information for a materials catalogue. In the FSD, a simple computer program has been developed which automatically carries out the publishing of the data catalogue.

The operation principle of the data cataloguer program

Information on descriptions to be published and their mutual relationships, for instance, whether they belong to some particular series - can be found in TIIPII.

By using this information, the program picks the descriptions to be published and transforms them into an FSD data catalogue . This means that the catalogue remains up-to-date at all times without constant editing needed.

The mode of operation of the publishing program is as follows:

  • Information on descriptions and files that are publishable is retrieved from TIIPII. All DDI-descriptions are then subjected to the following procedures:
  • Each DDI description is read into the computer's memory.
  • Information is added to the description of 1) what other related files are going to be published and 2) what is the location of these related files
  • Then, the augmented DDI description in the computer's memory is transformed into an HTML page with the help of an XSL stylesheet.
  • After the DDI descriptions have been created, the directory pages are made and the transformed description files and directories are transferred to the WWW-server of the FSD where they can be read in the materials pages.

The program is being developed further. The aim is to automatically generate also a PDF version of the materials catalogue for easy printing.

A design for life

Tools in short

The program has been written by using Python programming language. A DDI file is handled with pyXML and 4suite libraries which have also been used in creating an XSL transformation. Database connection has been enabled by using a mxODBC library.

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