Progress Report, Jan 2004

Title of project: A2Z – Akenti Access to zetoc
Project Manager: Ross MacIntyre
Lead Institution: University of Manchester
Duration of Award: 11/02-02/04
Total amount: £79,321
Period of Report: 08/03-12/03
Total co-funding: n/a

Confirmation Statement

I confirm that the project development is being conducted under the terms agreed in the initial contract with JISC.

Aims, Objectives and Methodology

Highlights, Outcomes and Important Findings from project

Changes to original award

Finish data of project put back to end February 2004

Project staff

Project Manager: Ross MacIntyre, MC
Developers: Mike Jones, ESNW, Andrew Weeks, MC
zetoc Application Consultancy: Ashley Sanders, MC
Web Services Consultancy: Ann Apps, MC
e-Science Consultancy: Stephen Pickles, ESNW
Systems Support: Geoff Lane, MC

Involvement with Programme

No face-to-face meetings held during reporting period

Publications and Publicity

Paper and Poster given at AHM2003 2-4 September, Nottingham (eScience All Hands Meeting) both available via web site http://a2z.mimas.ac.uk/

Engagement with Potential Outcomes Users

The Evaluation Report has been publicised and placed on the A2Z web site.

Two related courses were organised by MIMAS:
Introduction to XML Web Services 18th July, University of Manchester
Course covered Web Services concepts, uses and benefits and the key technologies underlying Web Services including UDDI, WSDL and SOAP.
eGIF Seminar 10th December, University of Manchester
(eGIF=e-Government Interoperability Framework.) Covered an introduction to both eGIF & XML and implementing systems using XML technology.

Detailed Progress and Future Plans

It was agreed with AAA Programme management that the end date of the project be moved from November 2003 to February 2004. This was solely to deal with a resource availability issue. In order to prevent any delay in the reporting of results, the Evaluation Report has been split into two. The first covers the Akenti implementation work, the second will cover the web services/GRID elements.

The Evaluation Report covering the implementation of Akenti was drafted and forwarded to the development team at LBNL at the start of November. A visit to LBNL by Ross MacIntyre and Mike Jones took place on 25th November to discuss the project and to successfully obtain formal agreement of the report. The report is now available on the web site (http://a2z.mimas.ac.uk/)

Following on from a lead given during the XML Web Services Course run at MIMAS in July, development of a Web services SOAP interface to zetoc has begun, implemented using gSOAP and C++. gSOAP is a set of compiler tools that provide a SOAP/XML-to-C++ language binding to ease the development of SOAP/XML Web services and client applications in C++. It has been developed by Prof Robert van Engelen and his team in the Department of Computer Science and School of Computational Science and Information Technology at Florida State University, USA (http://www.cs.fsu.edu/~engelen/soap.html) . It is available under a GNU licence from SourceForge (http://sourceforge.net/projects/gsoap2). gSOAP is used to implement several major applications, most recently Adobe Version Cue, an innovative file-management feature of the recently unveiled Adobe Creation Suite.

A prototype SOAP interface providing a zetoc general search, which replicates the Web interface general search has been implemented. The resulting set of brief zetoc records has a maximum size limit but subsequent sets can be requested. A ‘proof of concept’ SOAP search of zetoc has been performed using a simple SOAP client running on the same machine, developed alongside the SOAP server, and called via a simple Unix command line interface. The zetoc search is performed by existing C++ procedures that interface to the BRS database functions that control the zetoc database. The gSOAP compiler has been used to generate the SOAP bindings and serialise the C++ class public data and operations into XML for the SOAP server, and in reverse to implement the client. gSOAP also generates the WSDL file for the zetoc SOAP interface. Access to this prototype interface is restricted to Manchester Computing machines.

Work is continuing to develop a full SOAP interface to zetoc that replicates the full Web search facility, including a journal based search, and a conference proceedings based search, both returning brief records. A full record request that returns the full zetoc citation details for an article from its identifier is also being implemented. As far as possible metadata open standards are used to describe the properties within the XML request and result.