Who's Using What: PREFORMA Project

Author: Gregory Markus

For this edition of Who's Using What we look towards the digital preservation challenges that GLAMs face. We present two developers from the PREFORMA Project.

PREFORMA will develop open source tools that double-check files being preserved long term and adhere to open standards. This will allow memory institutions full control over the process of conformity testing files which will be ingested into their collections - vital to resolving issues, such as non-conformity, that can arise from digitization to preservation, dramatically slow down workflow, and drain precious resources.

A problem that many institutions face in terms of long term digital preservation is that the files they receive may not be compliant with standard implementations - in turn, causing read, write or playout problems later on. The PREFORMA project published a call to support the development of three open source projects developed around an open reference implementation for documents, photographs and video files and to develop tools that check file conformance. The project has organised an open workshop in Stockholm where the early stage tools will be presented. You can register and join here. For more information about the project, see the PREFORMA website.

Xavi Tarres: Easy Innova

Xavi Tarress is a developer at Easy Innova, a company developing DPF Manager as part of the PREFORMA Project. DPF Manager is an open source modular TIFF conformance checker that is extremely easy to use, integrate with existing and new projects, and deploy in a many different scenarios.

1. What open source tools are you currently working with?

As a developer I use a lot of open source frameworks and libraries. Frameworks and libraries not only let you l quickly develop software and avoid reinventing the wheel, they also allow you collaborate with bigger OS projects and to improve them. Nowadays, I use open source tools in each stage of software development. I favour Eclipse IDE for coding as it is flexible and there large number of plugins available.

I also use MAVEN as package management and building automatization system. For testing, I use the Junit library for the unitary tests and the GIT as version control software. Currently, I’m developing with Java and JAVA FX and of course using some of the Apache Software Foundation projects, which are essential for any Java project.

2. What open source tools have you used in the past to develop larger applications?

In my career as a developer I have used a large number of open source projects. As web developer I used the Cake PHP framework and Java Jersey for the back-end running under Apache and Apache Tomcat. Usually using MySQL as DDBB but sometimes I used MongoDB and Redis data bases. Some years ago I developed a Multi-platform Mobile application using the Titanium SDK and SQLite. Recently I developed the Durafile platform: this project aims to offer a novel software solution for preserving personal digital information, by detecting obsolete files or files at risk of obsolescence and executing digital preservation plans in order to migrate these files. In the Durafile project we use a large number of open source projects like Taverna, Owncloud, Virtual Box.

When you start using open source resources you rapidly become aware of how powerful it is to have access to the source code, the right to make changes and a whole community behind a project. Since then it’s been difficult for me to change to proprietary software.

3. What are you currently developing?

Now I’m working on the DPF Manager application as part of the PREFORMA Project. The aim of the PREFORMA Project is to implement good quality standardized file formats for preserving data content in the long term, giving memory institutions full control of the process of the conformity tests of files to be ingested into archives.

DPF Manager is a multiplatform application and a framework designed to allow end users and developers to gain full control over the technical properties and structure of TIFF images intended for long term preservation. The DPF Manager identify TIFF images based on the 'TIFF Baseline Specifications Revision 6', and validates the conformance to a specific normative. These normatives can be defined by an ISO standard or a specific acceptance criteria based on locally defined policy rules.

I also started working in the PRESEMEDIA project. PRESEMEDIA’s objective is to carry out digital preservation of online and social media information for personal and corporate environments. This means preserving the content of social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn , Blogs, Webpages) and transparently storing the preserved information to third-party systems (e.g. DAS, SAN, NAS, private cloud storage, social networks, Dropbox, etc.).

4. What would you like to see developed?

At the moment, I am not looking for a specific open source Project. But, some months ago, we were looking for a Scrum Project managing framework connected to GitHub or Bitbucket. Unfortunately, we didn’t find a project that could satisfy our requirements and we had to resort to a paid service.

Jérôme Martinez-MediaArea

Jérôme Martinez is a developer at MediaArea, an organisation developing MediaConch as part of the PREFORMA Project. MediaConch (CONformance CHecking for audiovisual files) is an extensible, open source software project consisting of an implementation checker, policy checker, reporter and fixer that targets preservation-level audiovisual files.

1. What open source tools are you currently working with?

We are mainly working with Linux, GCC, MinGW64, SSH, Putty, TortoiseGit, OBS (Open Build Service), Firefox, Thunderbird for doing our job and we use Qt, libxml, libxslt, sqlite, libcurl, autotools, Bootstrap, jQuery, JSTree as libraries for our projects.

2. What are you currently developing?

We are currently developing MediaInfo, a convenient unified display of the most relevant technical and tag data for video and audio files, and MediaConch, a conformance checker sponsored by the European Union.

3. What would you like to see developed?

Though some people in our team use mainly open source software, some others do still use some major non-open source software like Windows, Mac OS X, Visual Studio, XCode, and we all still use software like Gtalk, Skype or GitHub for communication.

It would be great to have a good audio/video chat software and service, as well as a perfect open source development environment. At the moment, the equivalent open source tools are unfortunately not at the same level as the non-open source counterparts. Having something equivalent to Mac App Store for open source operating systems would also be great - at the moment I personally still have huge issues when I try to install software on Linux, due to old versions of the tools in the repositories or the absence of several tools that I want to use.