Dec 192014
 

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on expanding the linking services that MarcEdit can work with in order to create identifiers for controlled terms and headings.  One of the services that I’ve been experimenting with is NLM’s beta SPARQL endpoint for MESH headings.  MESH has always been something that is a bit foreign to me.  While I had been a cataloger in my past, my primary area of expertise was with geographic materials (analog and digital), as well as traditional monographic data.  While MESH looks like LCSH, it’s quite different as well.  So, I’ve been spending some time trying to learn a little more about it, while working on a process to consistently query the endpoint to retrieve the identifier for a preferred Term. Its been a process that’s been enlightening, but also one that has lead me to think about how I might create a process that could be used beyond this simple use-case, and potentially provide MarcEdit with an RDF engine that could be utilized down the road to make it easier to query, create, and update graphs. 

Since MarcEdit is written in .NET, this meant looking to see what components currently exist that provide the type of RDF functionality that I may be needing down the road.  Fortunately, a number of components exist, the one I’m utilizing in MarcEdit is dotnetrdf (https://bitbucket.org/dotnetrdf/dotnetrdf/wiki/browse/).  The component provides a robust set of functionality that supports everything I want to do now, and should want to do later. 

With a tool kit found, I spent some time integrating it into MarcEdit, which is never a small task.  However, the outcome will be a couple of new features to start testing out the toolkit and start providing users with the ability to become more familiar with SPARQL in general.  The first new feature will be the integration of MESH as a known vocabulary that will now be queried and controlled when run through the linked data tool.  The second new feature is a SPARQL Browser.  The idea hear is to give folks a tool to explore SPARQL endpoints and retrieve the data in different formats.  At this point, I’m supporting XML, RDFXML, HTML. CSV, Turtle, NTriple, and JSON as output formats.  This means that users can query any SPARQL endpoint and retrieve data back.  In the current proof of concept, I haven’t added the ability to save the output – but I likely will prior to releasing the Christmas MarcEdit update. 

Proof of Concept

At this point, this is still somewhat conceptual.  However, the current SPARQL Browser looks like the following:

image

At present, the Browser assumes that data resides at a remote endpoint, but I’ll likely include the ability to load local RDF, JSON, or Turtle data and provide the ability to query that data as a local endpoint.  Anyway, right now, the Browser takes a URL to the SPARQL Endpoint, and then the query.  The user can then select the format that the result set should be outputted. 

Using NLM as an example, say a user wanted to query for the specific term: Congenital Abnormalities – utilizing the current proof of concept, the user would enter the following data:

SPARQL Endpoint: http://id.nlm.nih.gov/mesh/sparql

SPARQL Query:

PREFIX rdf: <http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#>
PREFIX rdfs: <http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#>
PREFIX xsd: <http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema#>
PREFIX owl: <http://www.w3.org/2002/07/owl#>
PREFIX meshv: <http://id.nlm.nih.gov/mesh/vocab#>
PREFIX mesh: <http://id.nlm.nih.gov/mesh/>

SELECT distinct ?d ?dLabel 
FROM <http://id.nlm.nih.gov/mesh2014>
WHERE {
  ?d meshv:preferredConcept ?q .
  ?q rdfs:label 'Congenital Abnormalities' . 
  ?d rdfs:label ?dLabel . 
} 
ORDER BY ?dLabel 

Running this query within the SPARQL Browser produces a resultset that is formatted internally into a Graph for output purposes. 

image

image

image

The images snapshot a couple of the different output formats.  For example, the full JSON output is the following:

{
  "head": {
    "vars": [
      "d",
      "dLabel"
    ]
  },
  "results": {
    "bindings": [
      {
        "d": {
          "type": "uri",
          "value": "http://id.nlm.nih.gov/mesh/D000013"
        },
        "dLabel": {
          "type": "literal",
          "value": "Congenital Abnormalities"
        }
      }
    ]
  }
}

The idea behind creating this as a general purpose tool, is that in theory, this should work for any SPARQL endpoint.   For example, the Project Gutenberg Metadata endpoint.  The same type of exploration can be done, utilizing the Browser. 

image

Future Work

At this point, the SPARQL Browser represents a proof of concept tool, but one that I will make available as part of the MARCNext research toolset:

image

As part of the next update.  Going forward, I will likely refine the Browser based on feedback, but more importantly, start looking at how the new RDF toolkit might allow for the development of dynamic form generation for editing RDF/BibFrame data…at least somewhere down the road. 

–TR

[1] SPARQL (W3C): http://www.w3.org/TR/rdf-sparql-query/
[2] SPARQL (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SPARQL
[3] SPARQL Endpoints: http://www.w3.org/wiki/SparqlEndpoints
[4] MarcEdit: http://marcedit.reeset.net
[5] MARCNext: http://blog.reeset.net/archives/1359

Dec 162014
 

A new update has been posted.  The changes are noted below:

  • Enhancement: Installation changes – for administrators, the program will now allow for quite installations and an option to prevent users from enabling automated updates.  Some IT admins have been asking for this for a while.  The installation program will take an command-line option: autoupdate=no, to turn this off.  The way this is disabled (since MarcEdit manages individual profiles) is a file will be created into the program directory that if present, will present automatic updates.  This file will be removed (or not recreated) if this command-line isn’t set – so users doing automated installations will need to remember to always set this value if they wish to prevent this option from being enabled.  I’ve also added a not in the Preferences window noting if the administrator has disabled the option.
  • Bug Fix: Swap Field Task List – one of the limiters wasn’t being passed (the process one field per swap limiter)
  • Bug Fix: Edit Field Task List – when editing a control field, the positions text box wasn’t being shown. 
  • Bug Fix: Edit Field Regular Expression options – when editing control fields, the edit field function evaluated the entire field data – not just the items to be edited.  So, if I wanted to use a regular expression to evaluate two specific values, I couldn’t.  This has been corrected.
  • Enhancement: Linked Data Linker – added support for FAST headings. 
  • Bug Fix: Linked Data Linker – when processing data against LC’s id.loc.gov, some of the fuzzy matching was causing values to be missed.  I’ve updated the normalization to correct this.
  • Enhancement: Edit Subfield Data – Moving Field data – an error can occur if the field having data moved to is a control field, and the control field is smaller than the position where the data should be moved to.  An error check has been added to ensure this error doesn’t pop up.
  • Bug Fix: Auto Translation Plug-in – updated code because some data was being dropped on translation, meaning that it wouldn’t show up in the records.

Update can be found at: http://marcedit.reeset.net/downloads or via the automated updating tool.  The plug-in updates can be downloaded via the Plug-in Manager within the MarcEdit Application.

–tr

 Posted by at 10:25 pm
Nov 292014
 

While experimenting with doing automatic language translation using the Microsoft Translation API, I got a couple of questions from users asking if this same process could be applied to doing automatic field translation to create localized searching indexes of subject terms.  The specific use case proposed was the generation of a single 653 that included automated translations of the 650$a.  Since this is likely a pretty specific use case with a limited audience, I’ve created this process as a plug-in.  If you are interested in seeing how this works, please see the following video:

If you have questions, let me know.

 

–tr

 Posted by at 9:27 am
Nov 272014
 

Happy Thanksgiving to those celebrating.  Rather than over indulging in food, my family and I spent our day relaxing and enjoying some down time together.  After everyone went to bed, I had a little free time and decided to wrap up the update I’ve been working on.  This update includes the following changes:

  • Language File changes.
  • Export/Delete Selected Records: UI changes
  • Biblinker — updated the tool to provide support for linking to FAST headings when available in the record
    • Updated the fields processed (targeted to ignore uncontrolled or local items)
  • Z39.50 Client — Single Search, multiple databases selected bug when number of results exceed data limit, blank data would be returned.
  • RDA Helper Bug Fix — Updated an error where under certain conditions, bracketed data would be incorrectly parsed.
  • Miscellaneous UI changes to support language changes

 

The Language file changes represent a change in how internationalization of the interface works.  Master language files are now hosted on GItHub, with new files added on update.  The language files are automatically generated, so they are not as good as if they were done by an individual – though some individuals are looking at the files and providing updates.  My hope is that through this process of automated language generation, coupled with human intervention, the new system will significantly help non-English speakers.  But I guess time will tell.

The download can be found by using the automated update tool in MarcEdit, or downloading the update from: http://marcedit.reeset.net/downloads/

 Posted by at 10:27 pm
Oct 162014
 

As libraries begin to join and participate in systems to test Bibframe principles, my hope is that when possible, I can provide support through MarcEdit to provide these communities a conduit to simplify the publishing of information into those systems.  The first of these test systems is the Libhub Initiative, and working with Eric Miller and the really smart folks at Zepheira (http://zepheira.com/), have created a plug-in specifically for libraries and partners working with the LibHub initiative.  The plug-in provides a mechanism to publish a variety of metadata formats into the system – from MARC, MARCXML, EAD, and MODS data – the process will hopefully help users contribute content and help spur discussion around the data model Zepheira is employing with this initiative.

For the time being, the plug-in is private, and available to any library currently participating in the LibHub project.  However, my understanding is that as they continue to ramp up the system, the plugin will be made available to the general community at large.

For now, I’ve published a video talking about the plug-in and demonstrating how it works.  If you are interested, you can view the video on YouTube.

 

–tr

 Posted by at 8:19 pm
Oct 162014
 

We hear the refrain over and over – we live in a global community.  Socially, politically, economically – the ubiquity of the internet and free/cheap communications has definitely changed the world that we live in.  For software developers, this shift has definitely been felt as well.  My primary domain tends to focus around software built for the library community, but I’ve participated in a number of open source efforts in other domains as well, and while it is easier than ever to make one’s project/source available to the masses, efforts to localize said projects is still largely overlooked.  And why?  Well, doing internationalization work is hard and often times requires large numbers of volunteers proficient in multiple languages to provide quality translations of content in a wide range of languages.  It also tends to slow down the development process and requires developers to create interfaces and inputs that support language sets that they themselves may not be able to test or validate.   

Options

If your project team doesn’t have the language expertise to provide quality internalization support, you have a variety of options available to you (with the best ones reserved for those with significant funding).  These range of tools available to open source projects like: TranslateWiki (https://translatewiki.net/wiki/Translating:New_project) which provides a platform for volunteers to participate in crowd-sourced translation services.  There are also some very good subscription services like Transifex (https://www.transifex.com/), a subscription service that again, works as both a platform and match-making service between projects and translators.  Additionally, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk can be utilized to provide one off translation services at a fairly low cost.  The main point though, is that services do exist that cover a wide spectrum in terms of cost and quality.   The challenge of course, is that many of the services above require a significant amount of match-making, either on the part of the service or the individuals involved with the project and oftentimes money.  All of this ultimately takes time, sometimes a significant amount of time, making it a difficult cost/benefit analysis of determining which languages one should invest the time and resources to support.

Automated Translation

This is a problem that I’ve been running into a lot lately.  I work on a number of projects where the primary user community hails largely from North America; or, well, the community that I interact with most often are fairly English language centric.  But that’s changing — I’ve seen a rapidly growing international community and increasing calls for localized versions of software or utilities that have traditionally had very niche audiences. 

I’ll use MarcEdit (http://marcedit.reeset.net) as an example.  Over the past 5 years, I’ve seen the number of users working with the program steadily increase, with much of that increase coming from a growing international user community.  Today, 1/3-1/2 of each month’s total application usage comes from outside of North America, a number that I would have never expected when I first started working on the program in 1999.  But things have changed, and finding ways to support these changing demographics are challenging.. 

In thinking about ways to provide better support for localization, one area that I found particularly interesting was the idea of marrying automated language transcription with human intervention.  The idea being that a localized interface could be automatically generated using an automated translation tool to provide a “good enough” translation, that could also serve as the template for human volunteers to correct and improve the work.  This would enable support for a wide range of languages where English really is a barrier but no human volunteer has been secured to provide localized translation; but would enable established communities to have a “good enough” template to use as a jump-off point to improve and speed up the process of human enhanced translation.  Additionally, as interfaces change and are updated, or new services are added, automated processes could generate the initial localization, until a local expert was available to provide the high quality transcription of the new content, to avoid slowing down the development and release process.

This is an idea that I’ve been pursing for a number of months now, and over the past week, have been putting into practice.  Utilizing Microsoft’s Translation Services, I’ve been working on a process to extract all text strings from a C# application and generate localized language files for the content.  Once the files have been generated, I’ve been having the files evaluated by native speakers to comment on quality and usability…and for the most part, the results have been surprising.  While I had no expectation that the translations generated through any automated service would be comparable to human mediated translation, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the automated data is very often, good enough.  That isn’t to say that it’s without its problems, there are definitely problems.  The bigger question has been, do these problems impede the use of the application or utility.  In most cases, the most glaring issue with the automated translation services has been context.  For example, take the word Score.  Within the context of MarcEdit and library bibliographic description, we know score applies to musical scores, not points scored in a game…context.  The problem is that many languages do make these distinctions with distinct words, and if the translation service cannot determine the context, it tends to default to the most common usage of a term – and in the case of library bibliographic description, that would be often times incorrect.  It’s made for some interesting conversations with volunteers evaluating the automated translations – which can range from very good, to down right comical.  But by a large margin, evaluators have said that while the translations were at times very awkward, they would be “good enough” until someone could provide better a better translation of the content.  And what is more, the service gets enough of the content right, that it could be used as a template to speed the translation process.  And for me, this is kind of what I wanted to hear.

Microsoft’s Translation Services

There really aren’t a lot of options available for good free automated translation services, and I guess that’s for good reason.  It’s hard, and requires both resources and adequate content to learn how to read and output natural language.  I looked hard at the two services that folks would be most familiar with: Google’s Translation API (https://cloud.google.com/translate/) and Microsoft’s translation services (https://datamarket.azure.com/dataset/bing/microsofttranslator).  When I started this project, my intention was to work with Google’s Translation API – I’d used it in the past with some success, but at some point in the past few years, Google seems to have shut down its free API translation services and replace them with a more traditional subscription service model.  Now, the costs for that subscription (which tend to be based on number of characters processed) is certainly quite reasonable, my usage will always be fairly low and a little scattershot making the monthly subscription costs hard to justify.  Microsoft’s translation service is also a subscription based service, but it provides a free tier that supports 2 million characters of through-put a month.  Since that more than meets my needs, I decided to start here. 

The service provides access to a wide range of languages, including Klingon (Qo’noS marcedit qaStaHvIS tlhIngan! nuq laH ‘oH Dunmo’?), which made working with the service kind of fun.  Likewise, the APIs are well-documented, though can be slightly confusing due to shifts in authentication practice to an OAuth Token-based process sometime in the past year or two.  While documentation on the new process can be found, most code samples found online still reference the now defunct key/secret key process.

So how does it work?  Performance-wise, not bad.  In generating 15 language files, it took around 5-8 minutes per file, with each file requiring close to 1600 calls against the server, per file.  As noted above, accuracy varies, especially when doing translations of one word commands that could have multiple meanings depending on context.  It was actually suggested that some of these context problems may actually be able to be overcome by using a language other than English as the source, which is a really interesting idea and one that might be worth investigating in the future. 

Seeing how it works

If you are interested in seeing how this works, you can download a sample program which pulls together code copied or cribbed from the Microsoft documentation (and then cleaned for brevity) as well as code on how to use the service from: https://github.com/reeset/C–Language-Translator.  I’m kicking around the idea of converting the C# code into a ruby gem (which is actually pretty straight forward), so if there is any interest, let me know.

–tr

 Posted by at 6:13 pm
Oct 072014
 

Here’s a snapshot of the server log data as reported through Awstats for the marcedit.reeset.net subdomain. 

Server log stats for Sept. 2014:

  • Logged MarcEdit uses: ~190,000
  • Unique Users: ~17,000
  • Bandwidth Used: ~14 GB

Top 10 Countries by Bandwidth:

  1. United States
  2. Canada
  3. China
  4. India
  5. Australia
  6. Great Britain
  7. Mexico
  8. Italy
  9. Spain
  10. Germany

Countries by Use (with at least 100+ reported uses)

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United States

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Canada

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Australia

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Italy

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India

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Great Britain

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China

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Finland

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Poland

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France

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Germany

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Ukraine

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Philippines

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Mexico

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New Zealand

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Brazil

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Spain

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Russian Federation

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Hong Kong

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Colombia

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Taiwan

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Egypt

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Sweden

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Denmark

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Saudi Arabia

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Turkey

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Argentina

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Greece

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Belgium

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Pakistan

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Georgia

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Malaysia

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Czech Republic

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Thailand

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Netherlands

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Japan

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Bangladesh

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Chile

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Ireland

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Switzerland

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Vietnam

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El Salvador

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Venezuela

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Kazakhstan

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Romania

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European country

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Norway

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Belarus

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United Arab Emirates

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South Africa

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Estonia

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Portugal

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Singapore

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Austria

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Indonesia

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South Korea

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Kenya

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Bolivia

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Israel

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Sudan

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Ecuador

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Qatar

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Nepal

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Slovak Republic

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Algeria

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Lithuania

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Costa Rica

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Rwanda

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Guatemala

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Peru

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Slovenia

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Iran

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Morocco

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Moldova

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Mauritius

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Croatia

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Kuwait

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Republic of Serbia

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Armenia

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Jordan

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Cameroon

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Sri Lanka

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Puerto Rico

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Dominican Republic

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Jamaica

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Cuba

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Iraq

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Oman

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Zimbabwe

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Tunisia

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Benin

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Uruguay

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Honduras

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Ivory Coast (Cote D’Ivoire)

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Syria

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Hungary

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Latvia

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Cyprus

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Macau

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Papua New Guinea

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Malawi

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Nigeria

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Netherlands Antilles

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Zambia

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Tanzania

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Panama

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Uganda

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Palestinian Territories

 

Aland islands

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Bosnia-Herzegovina

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Ethiopia

 

Tadjikistan

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Senegal

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Ghana

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Mongolia

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Luxembourg

 Posted by at 7:23 pm
Oct 072014
 

I sent this note to the MarcEdit listserv late last night, early this morning, but forgot to post here.  Over the weekend, the Ohio State University Libraries hosted our second annual hackaton on the campus.  It’s been a great event, and this year, I had one of the early morning shifts (12 am-5 am) so I decided to use the time to do a little hacking myself.  Here’s a list of the changes:

  • Bug Fix: Merge Records Function: When processing using the control number option (or MARC21 primarily utilizing control numbers for matching) the program could merge incorrect data if large numbers of merged records existed without the data specified to be merged.  The tool would pull data from the previous record used and add that data to the matches.  This has been corrected.
  • Bug Fix: Network Task Directory — this tool was always envisioned as a tool that individuals would point to when an existing folder existed.  However, if the folder doesn’t exist prior to pointing to the location, the tool wouldn’t index new tasks.  This has been fixed.
  • Bug Fix: Task Manager (Importing new tasks) — When tasks were imported with multiple referenced task lists, the list could be unassociated from the master task.  This has been corrected.
  • Bug Fix:  If the plugins folder doesn’t exist, the current Plugin Manager doesn’t create one when adding new plugins.  This has been corrected.
  • Bug Fix: MarcValidator UI issue:  When resizing the form, the clipboard link wouldn’t move appropriately.  This has been fixed.
  • Bug Fix: Build Links Tool — relator terms in the 1xx and 7xx field were causing problems.  This has been corrected.
  • Bug Fix: RDA Helper: When parsing 260 fields with multiple copyright dates, the process would only handle one of the dates.  The process has been updated to handle all copyright values embedded in the 260$c.
  • Bug Fix: SQL Explorer:  The last build introduced a regression error so that when using the non-expanded SQL table schema, the program would crash.  This has been corrected.
  • Enhancement:  SQL Explorer expanded schema has been enhanced to include a column id to help track column value relationships.
  • Enhancement: Z39.50 Cataloging within the MarcEditor — when selecting the Z39.50/SRU Client, the program now seemlessly allows users to search using the Z39.50 client and automatically load the results directly into the open MarcEditor window.

Two other specific notes.  First, a few folks on the listserv have noted trouble getting MarcEdit to run on a Mac.  The issue appears to be MONO related.  Version 3.8.0 appears to have neglected to include a file in the build (which caused GUI operations to fail), and 3.10.0 brings the file back, but there was a build error with the component so the issue continues.  The problems are noted in their release notes as known issues and the bug tracker seems to suggest that this has been corrected in the alpha channels, but that doesn’t help anyone right now.  So, I’ve updated the Mac instruction to include a link to MONO 3.6.0, the last version tested as a stand alone install that I know works.  From now on, I will include the latest MONO version tested, and a link to the runtime to hopefully avoid this type of confusion in the future.

Second – I’ve created a nifty plugin related to the LibHub project.  I’ve done a little video recording and will be making that available shortly.  Right now, I’m waiting on some feedback.  The plugin will be initially released to LibHub partners to provide a way for them to move any data into the project for evaluation – but hopefully in time, it will be able to be more made more widely available.

Updates can be downloaded automatically via MarcEdit, or can be found at: http://marcedit.reeset.net/downloads

Please remember, if you are running a very old copy of MarcEdit 5.8 or lower, it is best practice to uninstall the application prior to installing 6.0.

 

–TR

 Posted by at 6:47 am

MarcEdit 6.0 Update

 MarcEdit  Comments Off
Sep 222014
 

This update is coming a little later than I’d hoped, but I’ve been busying myself with a couple of projects that have been consuming some of my off hours.  Today’s update deals with a handful of issues, as well as provides some new functionality. 

Changes:

  • Bug Fix: Edit Field Function: Field recursion switch (/r) was broken in the last update.  This has been corrected.
  • Enhancement: Edit Field Function: LDR editing support has been added to the function.
  • Enhancement: MarcEditor: Keyboard shortcut for jump to page and jump to records have been added.
  • Enhancement: RDA Helper:  Added a new option to the 260/264 translation that enables users to always utilize a copyright or phonograph symbol.
  • Enhancement: RDA Helper:  Updated the RDA Helper to support the manufacturer or distributor subfields.  When the program encounters these in the 260, the appropriate 264 with second indicator 2 or 3 will be created.
  • Enhancement: RDA Helper:  The new option has been added to the task list.
  • Enhancement: Linked Records Tool:  I’ve added a new option to the Linked Records to allowing the program to embed $0 links to VIAF. 
  • Enhancement: MARCSplit:  The save directory now automatically sets to the desktop rather than the root drive.

You can get the updates via MarcEdit’s automated update tool or at: http://marcedit.reeset.net/downloads

–tr

 Posted by at 9:39 pm
Sep 022014
 

I’ve just posted a new update to MarcEdit.  In addition to fixing the following three issues:

  • Check URL crashes when running…this has been fixed.
  • Delimited Text Translator doesn’t show finishing message…fixed
  • Debugging messagebox shows when processing mnemonic files not using MarcEdit’s documented format.

In addition to these three bug fixes, MarcEdit is including a new tool called MARCNext for testing BibFrame principles. Please note, the BibFrame Testbed currently *does not* work on the MAC platform under MONO.  This is due to an incompatibility in the current version of saxon with the runtime.  It appears that downgrading the version will correct the problem, but I need to make sure there are not any unforeseen issues.  I’ll be working to correct this during the week.

I’ve recorded a couple videos documenting the new functionality.  You can find there here:

You can download the update via MarcEdit’s automated update tool or view the MarcEdit downloads page at: http://marcedit.reeset.net/downloads

–tr

 Posted by at 7:58 pm