Apr 112015

This all started with a conversation over twitter (https://twitter.com/_whitni/status/583603374320410626) about a week ago.  A discussion about why the current version of MarcEdit is so fragile when being run on a Mac.  The short answer has been that MarcEdit utilizes a cross platform toolset when building the UI which works well on Linux and Windows systems, but tends to be less refined on Mac systems.  I’ve known this for a while, but to really do it right, I’d need to develop a version of MarcEdit that uses native Mac APIs, which would mean building a new version of MarcEdit for the Mac (at least, the UI components).  And I’ve considered it – mapped out a road map – but what’s constantly stopped me has been a lack of interest from the MarcEdit community and a lack of a Mac system.  On the community-side, I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve had someone request a version of MarcEdit  specifically for a Mac.  And since I’ve been making a Mac App version of MarcEdit available – it’s use has been fairly low (though this could be due to the struggles noted above).  With an active community of over 20,000, I try to put my time where it will make the most impact, and up until a week ago, better support for Mac systems didn’t seem to be high on the list.  The second reason is I don’t own a Mac.  My technology stack is made up of about a dozen Windows and Linux systems embedded around my house because they play surprisingly well together, where as, Apple’s walled garden just doesn’t thrive within my ecosystem.  So, I’ve been waiting and hoping that the cross-platform toolset would get better and that in time, this problem would eventually go away.

I’m giving that background because apparently I’ve been misreading the MarcEdit community.  As I said, this all started with this conversation on twitter (https://twitter.com/_whitni/status/583603374320410626) – and out of that, two co-conspirators, Whitni Watkins and Francis Kayiwa set out to see just how much interest there actually was in having dedicated version of MarcEdit for the Mac.  The two set out to see if they could raise funds to acquire a Mac to do this development and indirectly, demonstrate that there was actually a much larger slice of the community interested in seeing this work done.  And, so, off they went – and I set back and watched.  I made a conscious decision that if this was going to happen, it was going to be because the community wanted it and in that, my voice wasn’t necessary.  And after 8 days, it’s done.  In all, 40 individuals contributed to the campaign, but more importantly to me, I heard directly from around 200+ individuals that were hopeful that this project would proceed. 

Development Roadmap

Now the hard work starts.  MarcEdit is a program that has been under constant development since 1999 – so even just rewriting the UI components of the application will be a significant undertaking.  So, I’m breaking up this work in chunks.  I figure it would take approximately 8-12 months to completely port the UI, which is a long-time.  Too long…so I’m breaking the development into 3 month “sprints”.  the first sprint will target the 80%, the functionality that would make MarcEdit productive when doing MARC editing.  This means porting the functionality for all the resources found in the MARC Tools and much of the functionality found in the MarcEditor components.  My guess is these two components are the most important functional areas for catalogers – so finishing those would allow the tool to be immediately useful for doing production cataloging and editing.  After that – I’ll be able to evaluate the remainder of the program and begin working on functional parity between all versions of the application. 

But I’ll admit, at this point, the road map is somewhat even cloudy to me.  See, I’ve written up the following document (http://1drv.ms/1ake4gO) and shared it with Whitni and asked her to work with other Mac users to refine the list and let me know what falls into that 80%.  So, I’ll be interested to see where their list differs from my own.  In the mean time, I’ll be starting work on the port – creating wireframes and spending time over the next week hitting the books and familiarizing myself with Apple’s API docs and the UI best practices (though, I will be trying to keep the program looking very familiar to the current application – best practices be damned).  Coding on the new UI will start in earnest around May 1 – and by August 1, 2015, I hope to have the first version built specifically for a Mac available.  For those interested in following the development process – I’ll be creating a build page on the MarcEdit website (http://marcedit.reeset.net) and will be posting regular builds as new areas of the application are ported so that folks can try them, and give feedback. 

So, that’s where this stands and this point.  For those interested in providing feedback, feel free to contact me directly at reeset@gmail.com.  And for those of you that reached out or participated in the campaign to make this happen, my sincere thanks. 


MarcEdit 101 Webinar Series

 MarcEdit  Comments Off on MarcEdit 101 Webinar Series
Mar 312015

The MarcEdit 101 Webinar Series were created over the course of multiple months for the CARLI (http://www.carli.illinois.edu/) consortium in Spring 2015.  In late March 2015, CARLI reached out to me and requested that these webinars be made available to the larger MarcEdit community, so if you find these webinars useful, please reach out and thank the folks at CARLI.

Couple of notes, these webinars are being made available as is, save for the following modifications:

  1. Attendee names have been anonymized.  While I’m certain most attendees would have no problem with their names showing up in these webinar lists, the original intended audience was locally scoped to CARLI and it’s members.  Masking attendees was done primarily because of this change of scope.
  2. The Q/A at the end of the sessions has generally been removed from the webinars.  Again, these are localized webinars and questions asked during the webinars tend to be within the scope of this consortia.

I’ll be making these video available over the next couple of months.  Again, if you find these webinars useful, please make sure you let the folks at CARLI know.

Series URL: http://marcedit.reeset.net/marcedit-101-workshop


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 led 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 a key semantic web technology,  SPARQL.  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 here is to give folks a tool to explore SPARQL endpoints and retrieve the data in different formats.  The proof of concept supports 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

While this is still somewhat conceptual, the current SPARQL Browser looks like the following:


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


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>
  ?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.




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

  "head": {
    "vars": [
  "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.


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:


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.


[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

MarcEdit Start Page Changes

 MarcEdit  Comments Off on MarcEdit Start Page Changes
Aug 162013

**A number of members of the MarcEdit community provided feedback while working on these changes.  Specifically, Heidi Frank (NYU) and Jim Taylor (of http://jtdata.com) for contributing their time and some artistic skill in creating some of the new functional icons.

In addition to a handful of bug fixes and enhancements, one of the big changes coming to the next MarcEdit update will be around UI changes.  I’ve been taking some time and collapsing menus to try and shorten them a bit (they are getting long) and refreshing a few of the screens and tools.  The first screen to be refreshed and includes some significant enhancements is the start screen.

Current Start Screen

The MarcEdit start screen has been largely unchanged for close to 5 years.  The start screen has included a start screen that includes access to a handful of tools and utilities that I have heard are fairly commonly used. 

Current MarcEdit Start Screen

Over the years, I periodically change the tools and utilities available on the start page, but by and large, it has stayed largely static. 

Updated Start Screen

The next update will reflect a shift in the start screen design.  First, the page will move from a more textual/information screen, to one that is more reliant on both graphics and text to help users find the right tool.  Secondly, the start screen will be customizable.  The screen will provide the ability for users to define what tools that they want to have quick access too. 

Updated Default Screen

The Updated Start Screen will include larger images, with text – to help users quickly locate the tool that they are looking for on the start screen.  However, unlink past versions, users can change the tools available from this screen.  By clicking on the lower right hand configurations icon, or selecting Preferences from the Tools menu, users will be presented with the following new configuration option:

New Configuration Options

The next configuration options pull out the 12 most commonly used tools/add-ins.  Users can select up to 4 of these items and place them on their start screen.  By selecting new items, and clicking OK, the user will find that their application lay out changes:

User Configured Interface

Here, I changed the default options to selected the Delimited Text Translator, the Merge Records Tool, the RDA Helper, and the Call Number Generator.  These will now be available to me on the front screen whenever I open MarcEdit.  And since these configuration changes are linked to a user’s profile, multiple users, on the same computer, could have different Start Screens depending on how the utilize the program.

Selecting 3 items

As noted above, you can select up to 4 user tools to display on the front page.  But users have the option to select as few options as they want as well.  In this example, I removed an option and only selected the most common 3 tools for the Start Screen.



These UI changes are the first of what will be a handful of changes that I’ll be making to the tool over the next couple of months as I refresh the interface, clean up some old code and look to improve some of the workflows in the application.  I’ll be posting wireframes through the MarcEdit listserv when I’m planning major changes, so if you are interested in having a voice on upcoming changes, keep and eye open on the MarcEdit list.


MarcEdit 5.8 Delimited Text Translator – Auto Generate Arguments List

 MarcEdit  Comments Off on MarcEdit 5.8 Delimited Text Translator – Auto Generate Arguments List
Nov 222012

One of the often requested enhancements to the MarcEdit Delimited Text Translator is the ability to auto generate the arguments list.  For many users, their spreadsheets or delimited text documents include a line at the beginning of the document defining the data found in the file.  I’ve often had folks wonder if I could do anything with that data to help auto generate the arguments list used by MarcEdit to translate the data. 

Well, in anticipation of Thanksgiving, I finished working on what will be the next MarcEdit update.  I won’t post it till the weekend, but this new version will include and Arguments Auto Generation button that will allow MarcEdit to capture the first line of a data file and if properly formatted, auto configure the Arguments List. 


The format supported by the Auto Generation feature is pretty straightforward.  It essentially is the following:  Field$Subfield[ind1ind2punct].

Let me break down the format definition:

  • Field – represents the field to be mapped to, i.e.: 245.  This is a required value.
  • $Subfield – represents the subfield to be mapped., i.e.: $a.  This is a required value.
  • ind1 – represents the first indicator.  This is an optional value, but if defined, indicator 2 must be defined.
  • ind2 – represents the second indicator.  This is an optional value, but if indicator 1 is defined, indicator 2 must also be defined.
  • punct – represents the trailing punctuation of the field.  This is an optional value.  However, if you wish to define the punctuation, you must define the indicator 1 and indicator 2 values as well.

Some examples of the syntax:

  • 245$a  — no indicators are defined, the default indicators, 2 blanks, will be used.
  • 245$a10 – defines the field, subfield and indicators 1 and 2.
  • 245$a10. – defines the field, subfield, indicators 1 and 2, and defines a period as the trailing punctuation.

In MarcEdit, you can join fields together.  This allows users to join data in multiple columns into a single subfield.  In MarcEdit, joined fields are represented by an asterisk “*”.  If I wanted to join two or more fields, I can add an asterisk group to the field.  For example:

  • Field0:  *100$a10,
  • Field1:  *100$a10.

MarcEdit will interpret field 0 and field 1 as being joined fields because the asterisk marks them as joined.

I’ve placed a video on YouTube to demonstrate the upcoming functionality.  You can find out more about it here:

If you have questions about this new function or suggestions, let me know.


MarcEdit 5.2 Update

 MarcEdit  Comments Off on MarcEdit 5.2 Update
Mar 082010

Hi all,

I have just uploaded a new version of MarcEdit to the website.  This version specifically addresses two bugs and introduces the Task Automation function into the application. 

Bug Fixes:

  • Changes not saved in the MarcEditor:
    Under certain conditions, MarcEdit would lose track of changes made within the program.  This occurred primarily after changes had been made and then the Find All Function was used.  This has been corrected as of this version.
  • Save As…file not found error:
    When using Save As to Save data, MarcEdit would throw an error if the file being saved did not previously exist.  This has been corrected as of this version.
  • Invalid prompts to save a file before closing:
    MarcEdit tended to error on the side of always asking users to save their data before closing.   However, even if a user had saved their data, the message may still have popped up.  This has been corrected as of this version.
  • Find/Replace – replacing without using Match Case:
    While it is always recommended when doing global replacements to do them using the Match Case option – prior to this version, unchecking the match case option would cause the replacement to take too many characters.  This has been corrected as of this version.


  • Task Automation tool:
    The task automation tool is a recorder that allows users chain together replacement functions.  Sadly, I haven’t been able to add information to the help file, however, I did record the following video tutorial to provide some initial background to get started using the function.  One quick note – this is a new tool so when using it, please verify changes.  Moreover, feedback is definitely appreciated.
    Video Tutorial:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmqTGfTubU4

You can download the updated version of MarcEdit at: MarcEdit_Setup.msi or the Linux/Mac/Other version build at: marcedit.zip.


Aug 042009

I was asked the other day at AALL (American Association of Law Libraries) if MarcEdit could be used to move specific data from one field and replace the data currently present in another.  So, an example – the ability to move data from a 260$c to the 008 position 7:4.  You can actually, though its sadly not documented (one of those few hidden gems that have been created either for specific projects I or others have been working on).  So how do we do it.

Open the Edit Subfield Function.  In the Edit subfield function, there is an option called Move Subfield data.  That’s that one we want to check.   Then, we enter the following (using the 260$c-008).

Field: 260 [Enter the field with the data that you wish to move]
Subfield: c
Find: [leave blank – though you can enter data here if you want to find something specific to move]
Replace: 008|7||

Ok, the Replace looks funny and it is.  There are essentially a handful of options you can set here (4) – I’m going to explain two for now (and will update this post when I update the official documentation). 

Each pipe “|? represents a delimiter.  The first two pipes are the most important:

  1. Field to move to
  2. Where to move (replace) the data

In the above example, we are moving data to the 008 and placing the data in position 7.  If I was placing the data into a subfield, I would have entered a subfield (example: c) here.  So, the edit form would look like the following:




MarcEdit Z39.50 on ‘Nix

 MarcEdit  Comments Off on MarcEdit Z39.50 on ‘Nix
Aug 012009

I need to send this out to the 15 or so folks that have agreed to be my first guinea pigs testing out a MarcEdit build on ‘Nix and Mac systems (and btw, Mac UI rendering isn’t good.  That’s not surprising because Mono’s UI changes tend to show up correctly on ‘Nix first, then Mac – so I’m hopefully the planned 2.6 update in Sept. will correct many of the errors) but I wanted to document it here as well so I don’t forget to add it the installation instructions later.

In Windows, MarcEdit includes the yaz install as part of the application installation.  This means that when people install MarcEdit, all the dependencies that they need are installed as well.  With Linux, that won’t be the case.  On Linux, you will need to make sure that you install the yaz and yaz-devel packages.  Once installed, you need to make one more change (and here’s the trick).

In MarcEdit windows, the yaz dll has been marked, renamed as yaz3.dll.  The reason for this is that I don’t want to be accidently over-writing a previous installation of the software (in case other programs on the system are relying on older or newer versions of the library).  This works fine in Windows, but on Linux, the problem is that the yaz components are installed as yaz (not yaz2, yaz3, etc).  So, in Mono, the way that the framework makes calls to native libraries through PInvoke is to look for the linked file and then start checking the following locations for the following file names (using yaz3.dll as the example):

  • Application Path/yaz3.dll
  • Application Path/yaz3.dll.so
  • Application Path/libyaz3.so
  • Application Path/lib/yaz3.dll
  • Application Path/lib/yaz3.dll.so
  • Application Path/lib/libyaz3.so
  • System/lib/yaz3.dll
  • System/lib/yaz3.dll.so
  • System/lib/libyaz3.so

The problem is a simple one – when yaz is built either by source or package manager, you end up with a shared object called: libyaz.so.  So, the simple solution is to setup a symlink from System/lib/libyaz.so to System/lib/libyaz3.so.  So, on my Ubuntu install, that would be creating a symlink in the following path (/usr/lib/) using the following command:

  • ln libyaz.so libyaz3.so

And that’s it.  Once I made that change, the Z39.50 client started working as expected, and now this information has been documented so I can make sure it makes it into the INSTALL.txt file.

Cheers everyone,


MarcEdit 5.1 update

 MarcEdit  Comments Off on MarcEdit 5.1 update
Mar 222009

Couple of quick changes. 

  1. Delete Fields – you can delete multiple fields using “x? syntax, where the ‘x’ is no longer case sensitive.  For example:
    a) 900 – deletes the 900 field
    b) 90x – deletes fields 900, 901, 902, 903, etc.
    c) 9xX – deletes fields 900, 901, 902, 903…910, 911…920, 921, etc.
    Originally, x’s had be be lower case.  I’ve modified the code so that this is no longer case sensitive.
  2. Edit Subfield Function:  When working with Control fields (00x fields) – MarcEdit use to require data in the Position element.  If the position element is empty, the program will do a usual find/replace – including prepending and concating data.
  3. MarcEdit Preview Function (Bug Fix):  If a user loads a MARC file directly into the MarcEditor – the program would lose the temp file – so if you clicked on the link to load the entire file into the MarcEdit, it would get lost.  This only occurred when users opened a .mrc (MARC) file directly into the MarcEditor.  In all other contexts, the preview link works as documented.

If either of these affect your workflow, you can download the update here: MarcEdit_Setup.msi


MarcEdit Update

 MarcEdit  Comments Off on MarcEdit Update
Mar 162009

I just uploaded a new version of MarcEdit 5.1.  Most of the updates are related to changes in the MarcEditor.  So here’s the list of changes:

  1. MarcEdit Find (specifically when the regular expression option is selected) – Previously, when searches were done, items were located but the window didn’t scroll to the located item.  That’s been corrected.
  2. MarcEdit Replace All (Regular Expressions): One of the changes made during the last update of MarcEdit was to change MarcEdit’s MarcEditor’s replace all function (when using regular expressions) from a single line evaluation to evaluating whole records.  This allows for the ability to perform replacement actions by evaluating multiple fields – but I had neglected to consider how this might break current workflows that relied on the previous functionality.  So, I’ve returned the functionality to evaluating single lines and added a switch to allow users that want to process data across multiple lines.  So for example:
    (=6.*)([^.]$) – this would evaluate field by field (line by line)
    (=6.*)([^.]$)/m – the /m tells marcedit to evaluate multiple lines – so this would run this expression against the entire record.
  3. MarcEdit Replace All (Regular Expressions):  The expression evaluator was too greedy – causing matches to blank records.  This should never happen any longer.
  4. MarcEditor – when openning a blank .mrk file using the Open button – the window would hang.  That’s been corrected.
  5. MarcEditor – when opening a .mrk file by double clicking on it, then opening a new window – closing either window would close both windows.  This has been corrected.
  6. XSLT file updates – I’ve added Creative Commons Zero license headers to the FGDC stylesheets distributed in MarcEdit.
  7. Help File has been updated to cover some of the noted changes.

Couple of notes – I’m currently writing up some new notes on using MarcEdit on Linux.  Mono 2.0+ essentially has added all the functionality necessary to run MarcEdit on Linux.  I’ll be creating a handful of Youtube videos for folks interested in giving this a try.  As for running on a Mac – well, I’ll look at that next. 

You can download the new version of MarcEdit from here: MarcEdit_Setup.msi