Hello all,

Over the past few months I have been working on and off on a research
project to develop a XForms, web-based editor for EAD finding aids that runs
within the Orbeon tomcat application.  While still in a very early alpha
stage (I have probably put only 60-80 hours of work into it thus far), I
think that it's ready for a general demonstration to solicit opinions,
criticism, etc. from librarians, and technical staff.

For those not familiar with XForms, it is a W3C standard for creating
next-generation forms.  It is powerful and can allow you to create XML in
the way that it is intended to be created, without limits to repeatability,
complex hierarchies, or mixed content.  Orbeon adds a level on top of that,
taking care of all the ajax calls, serialization, CRUD operations, and a
variety of widgets that allow nice features like tabs and
autocomplete/autosuggest that can be bound to authority lists and controlled
access terms.  By default, Orbeon reads and writes data from and to an eXist
database that comes packaged with it, but you can have it serialize the XML
to disk or have it interact with any REST interface such as Fedora.

Ultimately, I wish to create a system of forms that can open any EAD
2002-compliant XML file without any data loss or XML transformation
whatsoever.  I think that this is the shortcoming of systems such as Archon
and Archivists' Toolkit.  I want to integrate authority lists that can be
integrated into certain fields with autosuggest (such as corporate names,
people, and subjects).  If there is demand, I can build a public interface
for viewing the entire EAD collection, complete with solr for faceted browse
and search, but this is secondary to producing a form that people with some
basic archiving knowledge and EAD background can use to easily and
effectively create finding aids.  A public interface is the easy part, in
any case.  It wouldn't take more than a week or two to build something
fairly nice and robust.

Here is the link:

I should stress that the application is *not complete.*  I am using cocoon
for providing a list of EAD content in the system.  I will remove that
application eventually and utilize Orbeon's internal pipelining features to
achieve the same objective.  I haven't delved too deeply into Orbeon's
pipelines yet.

Here are some things to note:

1. If you click on a link to open the main part of the guide or any of its
components, you have to click the "Load" link on the top of the form.  Forms
aren't being loaded on page load yet.
2. Elements that accept mixed content per the EAD 2002 schema (e.g.
paragraphs) only accept PCDATA.  I haven't worked on mixed content yet; it
is by far the most challenging aspect of the project.
3. I only have a few C-level elements available to add.
4. Not all did elements are available yet.
5. A lot of the generic attributes, like type and label, are not available
for editing yet.  This may be the type of thing that is best customized per
institution relative to their own best practices.  I don't want more input
fields than necessary right now.
6. The only thing you can add into the archdesc right now is the <dsc>.
Once I finish all of the c-level elements, I can just put some xi:includes
into the archdesc XForm file to show them in the archdesc level.

I think those are the major issues for now.  As I stated earlier, this is
sort of a pre-alpha.  The project is open source and available (through svn)
to anyone who wants it. .  I have put
together an easy package to get the application up and running without
difficulty.  All you have to do is unzip the download, go into the apache
tomcat folder and execute the startup script.  This assumes you have nothing
running on port 8080 already.

Download page:

Wiki instructions:

Comments, questions, criticism welcome.  The editor is a sandbox.  Feel free
to experiment.

Ethan Gruber
University of Virginia Library