XForms and Orbeon are very interesting tools for developing metadata management tools.

The ONIX developers have used this stack to produce an interface for ONIX-PL called OPLE that people should try out.

Questions about Orbeon relate to performance and integrability, but I think it's an impressive use of XForms nonetheless.

- Eric

On Nov 12, 2009, at 1:30 PM, Ethan Gruber wrote:

> 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.
> Background:
> 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.
> Goals:
> 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

Eric Hellman
President, Gluejar, Inc.
41 Watchung Plaza, #132
Montclair, NJ 07042

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