12 October 2009

TSSG Publications - New Look on Website

I have recently updated the way the TSSG website displays its publications. The main website that links to these new views of the publications database is TSSG Publications. What's included is an auto-generated listing of all academic publications both by calendar year (in reverse order), and by academic year (in reverse order - we need this for our internal reporting). More interesting to external users is the simple dynamic search facility: TSSG Publications Search.

To do this has involved a few steps, and is the culmination of just over a year of thinking and planning:

  • We moved from a proprietary Reference Manager database to using BibTeX;
  • We standardised on JabRef to edit the BibTeX and keep it consistent and legal;
  • We standardised on UTF-8 as the character set;
  • We discussed an implemented a small additional set of tags to capture other useful information not there by default in BibTeX;
  • I developed an automation script to synchronise to the latest version of the database (i.e. copy from version control document repository to the webserver);
  • I developed a Perl library to handle the creation of suitable HTML format for the different types of BibTeX entries that are possible (basically a big switch statement calling a number of procedures to handle different cases;
  • I developed two scripts to run each morning (on the updated source file) and produce the HTML sorted by calendar year and by academic year;
  • I developed a preprocessing script to parse the BibTeX and produce some optimised hash data structures for use in the search tool;
  • I developed a CGI search tool to find an entry matching a regular expression search, and then display it by calling the HTML library.

There's still lots more to do to auto-generate publications lists for people, for projects, and for academic themes. I'd also like to create automated checks that email the identified author notifying them of missing data and incomplete entries. Most importantly I want to implement the tag we have that links to the PDF download in the WIT Institutional Repository, and I want to try and get the majority of entries to have this field, then I can create the link in the on-line listings, and make it easier for people to find our papers, and read them.

The main drivers I had for this process were to (a) make it easier to automatically keep the website up-to-date; (b) make it easier to generate necessary publications metrics and details for various reports; (c) make it easier for people to find and read the papers we have published. The new system is a good improvement in most of these, and the PDF links should really help with the last point.

Posted by mofoghlu at October 12, 2009 11:55 PM | TrackBack
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