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Libraries Develop Open Source Software

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
September 16th, 2010

 A professional technologist in the Libraries’ systems department has developed an innovative piece of software, the second to be released through WVU’s open source licensing agreement.

 The software, called EngineAPI, lets users rapidly develop web interfaces. An API, or application programming interface, is an interface implemented by a software program that enables different pieces of software to interact.

 “It takes a lot of the tedious work and puts it behind the scenes, so it’s easier and quicker for a programmer to develop redundant applications,” said Mike Bond, the software’s creator. “It allows me to program a whole application in 15 minutes as opposed to a few days.”

 EngineAPI helped Bond to revamp the Libraries’ new e-Reserve system in two months instead of about a year.

 Although Bond designed it with libraries in mind, the software has multiple uses, such as validating data, creating forms and templates, managing content in one place and displaying it in another, and producing RSS feeds from any page.

 Visitors to the Libraries’ website unknowingly reap the benefits. For the Libraries’ digital collections, the module combines an image database and a text database making them appear as one system on one website. The software also detects Smartphone users and directs them to the Libraries’ mobile webpage.

 “The software that Mike Bond created will lead to many efficiencies in the Libraries’ work in the future, making both our lives and our users’ lives easier,” said Bill Rafter, Head of the Libraries’ Systems Department.

 Bond began working on the software two years ago when faced with the need to enable a new employee to quickly develop software while maintaining security standards. The software sanitizes certain data automatically and helps prevent someone from creating security problems by accident. After using and studying the 1.0 version for a year, Bond took what he learned and updated it.

 He demonstrated his creation at a digital libraries conference in Ann Arbor, MI, this summer and received good feedback. Representatives from several research universities expressed interest in returning home with the software and putting to use on their campuses. They, in turn, will work to develop the software for more uses.

 “I’ve been using open source for years, so it’s nice to be able to contribute back to the community,” Bond said.

 Dave Olsen, a professional technologist with University Relations – Web, considers offering software to the greater community through open source as fulfilling the University’s land grant mission.

 “By open sourcing, we take a larger and more active role in higher education in terms of being a leader in whatever the endeavor is,” Olsen said. “The Libraries are taking a leading role in their field.”

 The URL for the software: http://systems.lib.wvu.edu/engineapi

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