AADL.org Goes Social

I have a good excuse for dropping off the face of the biblioblogosphere for a month.

It only took a year, but I finally got permission to go ahead with implementing what I’ve dubbed “The SOPAC” here at AADL. That would be “cute-speak” for Social OPAC. The SOPAC represents a slew of features that I’ve wanted to implement for quite some time now. I’m rather excited to see if library users will respond to these tools in an OPAC setting as much as Web 2.0 users have to commercial social networking sites. I’m fairly confident they will. Mainly, I’m relieved that I no longer need to talk conceptually about features I’ve been planning to build on top of the catalog.

So what is the SOPAC? It’s basically a set of social networking tools integrated into the AADL catalog. It gives users the ability to rate, review, comment-on, and tag items. The concept is nothing new, but the nature of our systems do not yield readily to this kind of retrofitting–something I plan to really start tackling in earnest, but that’s a topic for another post.

If you’re wondering (and didn’t know already), AADL’s automation system is III which recently released a software package called “Encore” that does some of what the SOPAC does. We did not purchase it, nor do we intend to. Instead we’re going to use the money we saved to buy a Lexus. *grin*

Anyway, I’ve been messing around a bit with Snapz Pro, and thought that since this is a pretty big upgrade to AADL’s site, I would include a screencast covering most of the new features. So for those with 15 minutes or so to kill (ignore the screaming kids in the background):

(Download Movie ~88 MB)

SOPAC Features

The “front door” to the SOPAC is, of course, the main catalog search screen. Drupal’s API made development of this code relatively painless. For example, the blocks on the right-hand side use Drupal’s hook_block function, making the development of those blocks simply a matter of writing a function that would return the content. In this case, the right-hand column contains search, tag, and review information.

Let’s take a look at some of those blocks:

These two blocks represent the contextual nature of SOPAC. The first block appears in the regular SOPAC, while the second is displayed in the use management tools.

Here are some sample review pages:

Top of review page:

Reviews themselves:

Public view of all my reviews:

Private view of all my reviews:

While writing a review, you can simultaneously add tags for the item you’re reviewing. Or you can simply tag catalog items without reviewing them. Here are some same examples of the tag system:

Personal tag cloud (My tags in cloud-vew mode):

Personal tag list. This is where users can manage their tags. Delete, modify, view, etc.

List of items in the catalog tagged with “dogs”:

Feel free to visit the AADL catalog to tag and/or review some items. You do need an account to create content, but you don’t need a library card to get an account, so these features are not limited to cardholders in any way.

Because I feel that this version of AADL.org is a significant milestone, I’ve made a tarball of the source code publicly available for download. Included in the tarball is our middle-ware “glue” that allows us to interface Drupal with the III server in addition to all the SOPAC code and supporting libraries. Bear in mind that this code will definitely not work out-of-the-box but could definitely be made to work with any III server with XMLOPAC support.

You can download the package here, or from my files section.


About this entry