opensource alternatives to common commercial products

September 13, 2007

Although the introduction of this article is overly simplified in terms of the changes in library technology (I couldn’t help but laugh a little in a couple of places) , once you’re past that, the rest is a good little overview of some of the more popular opensource products. I’ve hotlinked and listed the products below, the article gives a more indepth overview.

The products are:
ubuntu (ms windows alternative based on linux)
firefox (web browser; ms internet explorer alternative)
openoffice (productivity suite with wordprocessing, presentation, and spreadsheets; ms office alternative)
thunderbird (e-mail + rss reader; ms outlook express alternative)
songbird ( media player; windows media player alternative?)
gimpshop (image editing; adobe photoshop alternative)
pdfcreator (pdf creator; adobe acrobat alternative)
Audacity (audio burning software)
avidemux (video creation)

Other stuff (web publishing, etc.):
mediawiki and also twiki.

As far as libraries go, there is

I’ve talked a little about evergreen and vufind here. At home, I still run MS for the operating system and commercial stuff for my server; but then everything else is opensource or web based services (Firefox, gimp, ghostwriter+pdf, openoffice, etc.) Setting up these products on a small personal computer is fairly easy (really!). I’m not sure how that would translate to a large network, which could possibly be a hidden cost factor: installing these, configuring them as needed, and upgrading. Of course, admins already have to do that for any programs that they support. Training issues (oh the fun of trying to teach a group of web editors to use Drupal…) as well as potential security risks given the opensource nature would be other potential costs.

Opensource ILS projects and how I learned to love the library catalog

September 11, 2007

okay, pardon the bad pun on dr. strangelove…

I’ve been following some of the opensource ils projects with interest. evergreen (launched by the Georgia Public Lib System), is still in heavy development. From my understanding it originally launched without acquisitions or serials checkin (eeks!) ; however from an upcoming presentation flyer it appears that acquisitions will launch or has launched very soon.
Anyhow, it’s an interesting project and I finally got around to checking out their wiki.

At one conference I attended, the evergreen presenters (truly it is trotted out at every possible opportunity) was demonstrating its ability to save searches as RSS feeds, which would then be updated.

Another project is scriblio, which is a wordpress installation that works in conjunction with a library catalog. Plymouth State Library is now using scriblio. You can read an article about here and see it in action here.

I couldn’t find an example of a Voyager library using scriblio, but I’m sure someone out there somewhere is using it.

Another interesting project is VUFind, which I’ve read will work with a Voyager library catalog. VUFind is touting itself as having the ability to search (and display) seamless results between the library catalog, digital collections, and institutional repositories. I like a lot about VUFind — very easy to read. I love the ability to pull out citation info (wonder if this works with EndNote?). Other features include faceted search results, citations in MLA or APA (not sure if other choices), tagging, commenting, reviewing, and oia syndication.

I couldn’t find RSS feed/search, but it would seem like that would be a feature (?)

Give the demo a whirl yourself. OR better yet… go see it used with a Voyager catalog.

George Mason University (a Voyager library) has a test installation up at

Update: 9/12: test installation is not working. ;-(

For those who are interested, the MARC view/technical view is under the tab “Staff View”

To read more about the features of VuFind, check out VuFind’s website:

CMS for bloggers

September 19, 2006

So, I’m still investigating a CMS (Content Management System) for the libraries web editors. A CMS is just a easy way to get content onto the web, without having to do much in the way of design. Blogger in some senses is a very primitive (primitive because it is limited in what it can do) CMS. Unfortunately, my quick and informal survey of web editors has yielded, ummm… not much. A lot of them still seem to use Dreamweaver and templates (our current setup), a few Contribute, and then every thing in the middle, including (shudder) FrontPage.

As for myself, I am in a similiar situation. It’s time to either renew my license with ee or skip on to something else. sigh.
I want something easy to use (ee is!) with a photo gallery (ee has but I’m not using it for a variety of reasons) and something that is not so expensive for a small commerical license. I’m currently operating under the personal license but it is definitely restrictive in terms of what I can do. So.
I want one thing to do everything. That would sound like a cms, no? One design software that I can control with css, that supports flexibility (alot of it) in terms of templating.

Here’s some interesting research:
searching for the perfect photo/gallery software

an article about mambo vs. drupal

Here is what I’ve tried and used so far with a brief review of features:

Expression Engine (now also a free version ‘Core’ for personal sites):
Categories & Subcategories
Photo Gallery builtin
Templating via CSS

and some knowledge of CSS

199$ for personal, noncommercial with annual fee of 19.95$
Drawbacks: Cost and limitations for what constitutes personal use
Plus: Excellent tech support

Movable Type (I used the free version, before all of the changes to a more commerical product)

Categories & Subcategories
Templating via CSS

and some knowledge of CSS

Cost: not sure now
Drawbacks: slow at times and very prone to spam

Categories & Subcategories
Templating via CSS

and some knowledge of CSS

Cost: free, no longer supported?

Free, no installation needed
Supports CSS
No categories, very little customization, not much support for images