Aug 142014

Latest update has been posted.  The following has been fixed:

  • Bug Fix: Delimited Text Translator — The Edit LDR, Load Template, and AutoGenerate buttons were not responding.  This has been corrected.
  • Bug Fix: MARCCompare — when processing data with improperly formatted mnemonic data, the program doesn’t correctly trap the generated formatting error.
  • Bug Fix: Edit Field Data: When processing control fields by position, the replacement would generate duplicate data.
  • Bug Fix: MARC Tools — the MARC8 and UTF8 conversion checkbox would become grayed out when selecting new functions from the function list.
  • Bug Fix: Task Lists — The Delete Subfield Text task wasn’t respecting the option to delete the entire subfield option.
  • Performance Fix: Re-did the paging code so that for files under 50 MBs, the program utilizes a different, faster method of reading data.  This method utilizes more memory because data processing happens in memory rather than on disk, but this gives a 50 to 75% improvement in speed over the past method.
  • Bug Fix: Classify Tool — when processing dates, if the 008 wasn’t present, the program wouldn’t capture date information from the 260 or 264.
  • Enhancement: Classify Tool — The program now utilizes prefixes within the control number to eliminate false control number matches.
  • Bug Fix: Merge Records Tool — when merging on the 035, the program wasn’t properly normalizing all data for matching.

You can get the update automatically or from the download page at:


 Posted by at 10:02 pm
Jul 222014

What is MARCCompare/RobertCompare?

Very rarely do I create programs for individuals to meet very specific user needs.  I’ve always taken the approach with MarcEdit that tools should be generalizable, and not tied to a specific individual or project.  RobertCompare was different.  The tool was created to support Mr.Robert (Bob) Ellett’s (ALA Tribute, Link to Dissertation Record in WorldCat) research for his Ph.D. dissertation, and only after completion, was the tool generalized for wider use. 

When I moved MarcEdit from the 4.x to the 5.x codebase, I dropped this utility because it had seemed to have run its course.  This was something Bob would periodically give me a hard time about — I think that he liked the idea of RobertCompare kicking around.  Of course, the program was terribly complicated, and without folks asking for it, converting the code from assembly to C# just wasn’t a high priority. 

Well, that changed last year when Bob suddenly passed away.  I liked Bob a lot — he was immeasurably kind and easy to get along with.  After his passing, I decided I wanted to bring RobertCompare back…I wanted to do something to remember my friend.  It’s taken a lot more time than I’d hoped, in part due to a move, a job change, and the complexity of the code.  However, after an extended absence, RobertCompare is being reintroduced back into MarcEdiit with MarcEdit 6.0. 

MARCCompare/RobertCompare 2.0

The original version of RobertCompare was designed to answer a very specific set of questions.  The program didn’t just look for differences between records, but rather, utilizing a probability engine, made determinations regarding the types of changes that had been made in the records.  Bob’s research centered around the use of PCC records at non-PCC libraries, and he was particularly interested in the types of changes these libraries were making to the records when downloading them for use.  The original version of RobertCompare was very good at analyzing record sets and generating a change history based on the current state of the records.  But the program was incredibly complicated and slow…really, really slow. 

In order to make this tool more multi-use, I’ve removed much of the code centered around probability matrix, and instead created a tool that utilizes a differential equation to generate an output file that graphically represents the changes between MARC files.  The output of the file is in HTML and at this point, pretty simple – but has been created in a way that I should be able to add additional functionality if this tool proves to have utility within the community.

So what does it look like?  The program is pretty straightforward.  There is a home menu where in identify the two files that you want to compare, and then a place to designate a save file path. 

Figure 1: MARCCompare/RobertCompare main window

The program can take MARC files and mnemonic files and compare them to determine what changes have been made between each record.  At this point, the files to be compared need to be in the same order.  This has been done primarily for performance reasons, as it allows the program to very quickly chew through very large files which was what I was looking for as part of this re-release. 

As noted above, the output of the files has changed.  Rather than breaking down changes into categories in an attempt to determine if changes were updated fields, new fields or deleted field data – the program now just notes additions/changes and deletions to the record and outputs this as an HTML record.  Figure 2 shows a sample of what the report might look like (format is slightly fluid and still changing). 

Figure 2: MARCCompare/RobertCompare output

Final thoughts

While I’m not sure that RobertCompare was ever widely used by the MarcEdit community, I do know that it had its champions.  Over the past year, I’ve heard from a handful of users asking about the tool, and letting me know that they still have MarcEdit 4.0 on their systems specifically to utilize this program.  Hopefully by adding this tool back into MarcEdit, they will finally be able to send MarcEdit 4.x into retirement and jump to the current version of the application.  For me personally, working on this tool again was a chance to remember a very good man, and finish something that I know probably would have given him a good laugh.  


Jun 212014

One of the changes that will be present in MarcEdit 6 is an expansion of the Material Types Report.  Currently, the program provides an option to allow users to generate a report detailing the type of record as designated by the LDR and 008.  This allows users to get a quick snapshot of how the records are coded within the file.  One of the limitations of this process has been that these reports are read only.  Once a user ran a report, if they wanted to see, for example, all the Computer Files – they would need to construct that query themselves. 

In MarcEdit 6, this will change.  The program has reorganized the Materials Report menu, creating a new entry for Generating the Report, an a new set of subcommands that allow users to designate a material type and find the records that correspond to that type. 

Figure 1: Finding the Material Types Report

Figure 2: Material Type Report Results.  One new enhancement has been the ability to copy data to the clipboard from this window.  This impacts all functions that utilize this generic results window.

Figure 3: Menu to Find Records of a specific type

Figure 4: Material Results query and results

This is a request that comes up periodically – hopefully, these changes will make querying and examining record types easier for users.


 Posted by at 10:00 pm
Jun 212014

Thought I’d give the folks that are interested an idea of where I am with the MarcEdit update.  In terms of new features, that is pretty much set at this point.  I have one feature request regarding conditional field editing by field position that I’m still mulling over, but otherwise, I’m pretty much finished.  The last things todo right now is to finish the installers for Linux and Mac systems, and then make sure that the installs work exactly as I want them to.  One thing that I have found with the Linux and Mac systems – the Z39.50 dependencies are one of the biggest dependency hurdles (I can’t really automate their install well) – so I’m working on a method of creating a Z39.50 web service at that I can then call via non-Windows systems.  This will be functionally equivalent with the locally loaded Z39.50 libraries, though there will likely be a performance hit (small one, you shouldn’t notice too much) – but will remove a major dependency making the program much easier to install.  Also, I’m just not sure how often the Z39.50 client actually gets used at this point (when can we finally phase that out) – so I’m hoping this will be a good enough compromise. 

MarcEdit on Linux:

At this point, I’m testing MarcEdit on Suse and it looks to be going well.  The installer is now a single .sh file, that will expand creating the directory, run the bootloader, and create a shortcut on the desktop.  What it doesn’t do yet is make sure Mono is installed – not certain if that will be part of the first installer, but this should get you to the point that if you have mono installed, you will just run the installer and an icon will be on the desktop ready to be activated. 

Couple of the current screenshots:

Figure 1: Start Screen on Linux

Figure 2: MarcEditor

Figure 3: Delimited Text Translator

Figure 4: RDA Helper


Figure 5: MARC Tools Window

At this point, on Linux, the version looks and feels pretty much like you’d expect the Windows version to work.  I’m testing performance, especially with larger files in the Editor (for rendering) and it looks like all UI issues should be dealt with in MarcEdit 6.  I’m starting the process of doing the same type of testing using the current version of OS X with Mono 3.4 – hopefully I’ll see the same UI smoothness.

Some Stats on the Update

Some stats – refactoring, I’ve removed close to 15,000 lines of code streamlining older processes (these are things you likely won’t see, outside of maybe a few things being faster).  New code – I’ve written close to 27,000 lines of code developing new features or enhancements for this update.  Much of this has been around multiple platform support, new functions in the editing tools, etc.  Once MARCCompare has been completed, that number will jump to around 37,000 lines – so this will be a significant update in which a number of tools and functions have had significant revisions made too improve code maintenance, performance, add new features or correct bugs, or all three. 

Below you will find a list of topics the represent some of the areas where changes are being made.  This is a subset of a report from the internal issue tracker I use for tracking issues/enhancement requests.  At this point, it still looks like this update will be scheduled for Mid-July.



Tracking Report



Sharing Tasks which refer to other tasks


Add/Delete Field — Find What Field


Refresh the Delimited Text Translator


MARC Tools window refresh


Changing Capital Letters with Diacritics to lower case


RDA Helper


Script Wizard — add/delete field with modifier


Adding multiple fields in the Add/Delete Function


UI Issue — Validation


Task List — Swap Field not saving Process one per field


Allow tasks to have comments


Edit Subfield and Swap Field Edits


Task Manager & Task List tool


Task List: Allowing Description to show in Task Manager and Task Editor


Plugin Updates — make it easier to track plugin updates


Ability to import RIS format


Mac Fonts


Prompt for confirmation of task deletion


Koha Integration – unable to authenticate when using self-signed certificates


merge records tool — customizing match points causes merges to not occur


Validate Temp File Path Before Generating files


 Posted by at 8:53 am
Jun 122014

This summer, I have been spending a lot of my free development preparing MarcEdit to make the transition from 5.9 to 6.0.  This will be a big update, and at the same time, and update that I’m not sure folks will necessarily see many of the changes.  But maybe that will be a good thing, I don’t know.  So, a couple of notes about the update.

User Interface Changes

So, MarcEdit has been around for a very long time – 1999 to be exact.  Because of that, there are some very old tools in the application…tools who’s interface haven’t been updated in 6-7 years – even if the underlying functionality has changed.  Well, I’m taking the time to refresh a number of the forms found within the application.  The places where most users will see these changes are in the Delimited Text Translator (the Windows 2000 Wizard interface is going away) and the MARC Tools interface.  There are a few others that will see updates; but these are the two that you’ll see for sure.

Delimited Text Translator (screen 1)


Delimited Text Translator (screen 2)


MARC Tools Revisions (proposed)


These are proposed changes – but are being done to make the look more consistent as well as make some screens easier to work with (the MARC Tools window for instance was getting really long).

Bug fixes

For two months, I’ve been going through my internal ticketing system, and closing every open issue.  When I post this update, every bug report that has been saved, will be closed.  This has required rewriting a lot of code within the application – which for many older functions – is definitely a good thing.  At present – this means that 13 bug tickets have been closed.  All are minor, with general workarounds – but this should have a practical impact for folks.

New features

At present, 7 enhancements/new features have been added to the program.  The remaining change to be completed (if it’s completed) will be the re-inclusion of MARCCompare (or RobertCompare as I fondly referred to it).  This is a specialized diff tool for comparing MARC records that is smarter than just a plain diff because it takes into account MARC structured data.

Cross Platform Work

One of the pseudo supported options in MarcEdit has been the ability to run the tool on non-windows platforms.  Being written in C#, the program runs fine under MONO on both Linux and Mac systems.  However, this has traditionally worked much better for Linux users because: MONO was created by a bunch of people on Linux, and I work a lot on Linux so I would test there.  One of the big efforts this time around has been to try and identify where UI issues or other issues exist and put solid support for folks interested in working with MarcEdit within non-Windows environments.  The tool will likely always run best there – but I’d like to provide a version with installers, for both Linux and Mac systems and 6.0 will represent the first attempt at that.  I’ll admit, I have some trepidation around doing this and providing more formalized support because I don’t own a Mac so I won’t get to test and do the kind of dedicated development as I might like – but I have regular enough access to one that I’m willing to give it a go.  At the very least – users will get a much easier process for installing and that at least is a win.

Go live date

This is still in the air a little bit.  I’d hoped for early July but my wife and I are buying a house, I’m doing a little travelling for work – so this is definitely pushing things back.  But ideally, these changes will start being rolled out in July 2014.

If you have questions – feel free to give me a holler.


 Posted by at 1:15 am
Apr 042014

One of the new functions in MarcEdit is the inclusion of a Field Edit Data function.  For the most part, batch edits on field data has been handled primarily via regular expressions using the traditional replace function.  For example, if I had the following field:

=999  \\$zdata1$ydata2

And I wanted to swap the subfield order, I’d use a regular expression in the Replace function and construct the following:
Find: (=999.{4})(\$z.*[^$])(\$y.*)
Replace: $1$3$2

This works well – when needing to do advanced edits.  The problem was that any field edits that didn’t fit into the Edit Subfield tool needed to be done as a regular expression.  In an effort to simplify this process, I’ve introduced an Edit Field Data tool.


This tool exposes the data, following the indicators, for edit.  So, in the following field:
=999  \\$aTest Data

The Edit Field Data tool could interact with the data: “$aTest Data”.  Ideally, this will potentially simplify the process of doing most field edits.  However, it also opens up the opportunity to do recursive group and replacements.

When harvesting data, often times subjects may be concatenated with a delimiter, so for example, a single 650 field may represent multiple subjects, separated by a delimiter of a semicolon.  The new function will allow users to capture data, and recursively create new fields from the groups.  So for example, if I had the following data:
=650  \7$adata – data; data – data; data – data;

And I wanted the output to look like:
=650  \7$adata – data
=650  \7$adata – data
=650  \7$adata – data

I could now use this function to achieve that result.  Using a simple regular expression, I can create a recursively matching group, and then generate new fields using the “/r” parameter.  So, to do this, I would use the following arguments:
Field: 650
Find: (data – data[; ]?)+
Replace: $$a$+/r
Check Use Regular Expressions.


The important part of the above expression is in the Replacement syntax.  To tell MarcEdit that the recursion should result in a new line, the mnemonic /r is used at the end of the string to tell the tool that the recursion should result in a new line.

This new function will be available for use as of 4/7/2014. 


 Posted by at 8:44 pm
Mar 192014

After posting the update last night, a user noted that the Delimited Text Translators 008 generation utilized some older defaults that were causing some validation issues.  So, I’ve posted a limited update to correct this specific problem.

If you have automatic updating turned on, MarcEdit will prompt you automatically.  Otherwise, you can download from:


 Posted by at 9:38 pm
Mar 182014

New MarcEdit has been posted.  Here’s the notes:

  • RDA Helper: Enhancement — Added option to determine if the 040$e is added, in accordance with the PCC Hybrid records documentation.
  • RDA Helper: Enhancement — Updated the GMD generation to take into account additional field data in an attempt to account for accompanying data (rather than alternative forms)
  • CDS-ISIS: Enhancement — Updated the process to account for some additional conversion options.  Updated the field remapping.  I.E., changing from 003=>999, 003,999.
  • CDS-ISIS: Bug Fix — When using the advanced option, appending an initial subfield was being dropped.  Fixed.
  • MarcEditor: Enhancement — Added a new Edit function; Remove Empty Fields/Subfields.  This is used to fix errors in a file, where empty fields or subfields are present.

The update is available either via the automatic update or via URL at:


 Posted by at 7:29 pm
Mar 022014

I’m happy to report that I finally completed work on the latest MarcEdit update.  This change provides updates specifically to the RDA Helper and MarcEdit’s implementation/interaction with the OCLC WorldCat Metadata API.  The full list of changes can be found below. 

  • RDA Helper: Modified the way that the 260/264 conversion occurs, to bring it more in line with the current practice and examples.  This includes retaining the 264$c and creating a second 264\4 when the program can determine that the data defined in the 260$c is a copyright statement.
  • RDA Helper: Added a qualifier option for the 015/020/024/027.  You can turn this on or off (default is off)
  • RDA Helper: I’ve updated some of the abbreviations
  • RDA Helper: Fixed a bug in the 260/264 processing that didn’t always clean up superficial punctuation during the translation process.
  • OCLC Integration: OCLC Search – I’ve added the ability to search by indexes oclc number, issn, isbn as a single or Boolean search.
  • OCLC Integration: In the configuration area, I’ve added some addition error checking.
  • OCLC Integration: In the configuration and batch records update section, I’ve added an option to Lookup your Holdings Codes.  This will show all your institutions valid holdings codes (something that folks have sometimes had trouble finding).  This makes use of the OCLC Metadata API, specifically the Holdings retrieval code.
  • OCLC Integration:  I’ve added the holdings retrieval code to the OCLC API Library.  This code has been synced to github.
  • OCLC Integration: Local Bibliographic Records Support.  This is what I’m still working on.  The program will allow you, on search, to now choose the option to download a local bib record (rather than the OCLC bib record) if one is available.  This allows users who are using OCLC WMS or have Local Bibliographic Records, the ability to create, update, and delete these records. 
  • OCLC Integration: I’ve added the local bibliographic data records code to the OCLC API Library.  This code has been updated to github.


If you have MarcEdit, you can download the program via the automated update tool, or you can download directly from:


 Posted by at 1:28 pm
Feb 272014

Since OCLC made their Metadata APIs available, I’ve spent a good deal of time putting them through their paces and looking for use cases that these particular API might solve, and if/how MarcEdit might be an appropriate platform to take advantage of some of this new functionality.  Looking over the new Metadata API, it’s pretty easy to see where the focus was on – providing some capacity to have read/write access to the WorldCat database, primarily the global and local bibliographic data.  In addition, the API provided the ability to set institutional holdings on records, though not work with Local Holdings Records.

For that reason, the first round of MarcEdit development utilizing these API was focused primarily on working with the master bibliographic and institutional holdings records.  These are two areas where I tend to receive regular queries from users in the mist of reclamation projects or weeding projects and needing to make changes to hundreds or thousands of records in the WorldCat database.  The new APIs allowed me to provide an answer to the two most common questions: 1) Can I batch update/delete holdings on a particular OCLC records and 2) can I batch upload records to OCLC.  While I’d definitely argue (and I think OCLC probably would agree) that these APIs are not designed to be used with batch operations in mind (i.e., they are slow) – they finally offered a way to communicate with the WorldCat database in real-time…and regardless of performance, this feels/is a big win for libraries that choose to work with OCLC.  If you are interested in how this initial work was implemented, you can read about it here:

After releasing the first MarcEdit builds and making subsequent refinements to the integration work, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with more OCLC WMS users and individuals that make use of the Local Bibliographic Data files and decided that it was time to start working on adding support for this type of data.

The challenge with working with Local Bibliographic Data records is that there is no way (at least through the API) to know if a record has a local bibliographic record attached, without multiple queries and making a set of special calls to the API about a specific OCLC number.  This means that for all intensive purposes, the process of working with local bibliographic data in MarcEdit assumes one of two things:

  1. That the user knows what data has these records
  2. That the user is likely creating new ones.

Secondly, I’ve tried to integrate this new functionality into the existing tools developed for use with the other OCLC Metadata APIs.  So for example, users looking to query a set of records and retrieve the attached local bibliographic records now will see a new option on the OCLC Search box that denotes if the master or local bibliographic record should be extracted.


The problem, is at this point, MarcEdit doesn’t know if a local bibliographic record actually exists.  Certainly, the tool could pre-query every oclc number returned as part of a search, but that approach exponentially increases the back and forth communication between MarcEdit and OCLC via the API, and remember, this isn’t an API that feels designed for batch operations.  So, rather than query, MarcEdit provides an option to download the local bibliographic record if it is present.  If this checkbox isn’t selected, the program will download the master bibliographic record for edit.  For users looking to create a local bibliographic record, the process is the same.  Local bibliographic records must be attached to a master OCLC number – so a user would query a record, check to download the local bibliographic record, and then attempt the download.

When downloading a local bibliographic file, MarcEdit will prompt users, asking if the tool should automatically generate a local bibliographic file for edit in MarcEdit if one doesn’t exist on a master record.


To generate new records, MarcEdit utilizes a new template within the application – local_bib_record_template.mot.  The template contains the following data:

=LDR  00000n   a2200000   4500
=004  [OCLC_NUM]
=940  \\$a[OCLC_CODE]

This template looks slightly different than a normal MarcEdit template, in that it includes a number of data points that MarcEdit will automatically generate as part of the record generation process.  This is necessary because specific data must be present in order for a local bibliographic record to be valid.  For example, a local bibliographic record must have the OCLC number that it’s attached to – data that is found in the 004.  The 935 represents a local system generated number, a number MarcEdit generates as a timestamp indicating record creating time, and finally, the 940 includes the organizational code, or the code that normally would appear in the 040 of a bibliographic record.  This information is stored and used as part of the API profile, so MarcEdit includes that data in the record generation process.

A local bibliographic record is in many ways like the master bibliographic record, just with data only applicable to an institution.  OCLC has a set of documentation around what kinds of data can be stored in these records.  Using a test record in WorldCat, I extracted the following example:


In this record, the data breaks down in the following way:

  • 001 – this is the unique lhd control number
  • 004 – this is the oclc number for the master bibliographic record that this local record is attached to
  • 005 – this is the transaction data; this data must match when updating records as OCLC uses this as a point of validation.
  • 500, 790 – in this record, these are the local data fields…data that is separate from the master bibliographic record and visible only to my users who see our local bibliographic data.
  • 935 – this is a locally defined system number – when MarcEdit generates this number, it is a system timestamp.
  • 940 – this is the institution code.

As one can see, a local bibliographic record can be fairly brief (or verbose depending on the notes added to the record).

To update/create/delete a local bibliographic holdings file (single or batch) – a user would start with a local bibliographic record.  Even delete operations require the record – you cannot just pass the lbd a control number or list of oclc numbers – at least at this point.  The API requires the record to be sent through the service as a type of validation.

Updating this data requires using the Add/Delete/Update Local Bibliographic Data option:


Selecting this option will open the following window:


When dealing with Local Bibliographic data, the option will be selected, and the option to delete those records is also presented.  Users not working with local bibliographic data will see the same dialog, but the Process as Local Bibliographic Records option will be left unchecked and the Delete Records option will not be visible.  At this point, users can process their records, and MarcEdit will return the response codes provided by the API to determine if the updates were successful or not.

My guess is, that like the first pass through the API, the use of these methods and tools that make use of them will be refined with time and use, but I think that they provide a good start.  Of course, at this point, I’ve reached the limit  in terms of functionality that the Metadata API provides.  In looking at this toolset, it’s pretty clear that at this point, these API were primarily envisioned for individual, real-time editing of the WorldCat database.  I have a feeling that the batch holdings tools, and now the ability to upload bibliographic and local bibliographic data in batches probably fall outside of the identified use cases when OCLC first released these to the public.  But they work, though a little slowly, and provide some capacity to work directly with the WorldCat database.  At the same time, the API is limited and missing key features that folks are currently asking for – most notably the ability to work with local holdings data, the ability to validate records, and a better process for search and discovery (as the present Search API are woefully inadequate for nearly any, but for the most vanilla uses).  Hopefully, by doing some simple integration work in MarcEdit and providing some useful tools around the Metadata API, it can provide a catalysis for additional work, additional functionality, and additional innovation on the side of OCLC – and continue to push the cooperative to provide more transparent and deeper access to the WorldCat resources and holdings.

Finally, the functions discussed here will be made available for download on March 2.


 Posted by at 11:13 pm