OZ Project Newsletter

Laura A. Green redgreen at EAGLE.CC.UKANS.EDU
Wed Dec 31 11:24:50 CST 1997

News from the OZ Collections Software Development Project
30 December 1997

>From Jim Beach (OZ project Principal Investigator,
jbeach at eagle.cc.ukans.edu).=20

As 1997 comes to the end, the OZ Project Release Team would like to report
on their recent activities with various OZ design and implementation tasks.
 Since fundamentally changing our technical approach in September from the
Visual Basic language to Borland's Delphi, the Team has been modeling and
testing various OZ subsystem designs as they report below.  "Zoe," which
was to be the Windows replacement for MUSE, had been under development for
several months in 1996 & 1997, but despite our best efforts at life
support, Zoe turned out to be a false start.  In September we relegated
"Zoe" to the digital compost heap and began anew. We reassessed and
redoubled efforts at requirements analysis, modeling, and design.  The OZ
Project Team has made outstanding progress in a short four months of time.
OZ is now well specified and about to enter the coding phase.  Laura Green,
as OZ Project Manager, has exceeded all reasonable expectations for guiding
the Team through this challenging period with her exceptional
organizational and coordination skills.  In addition to leading weekly
meetings with our programmer/analysts, she has negotiated international
contracts, anticipated and structured every stage of the development
process, and steered us through the turbulent waters of the Zoe to OZ
transformation. Laura and the entire OZ Release Team are doing a
superlative job and we at KU are proud of them.  The entire Team is
enthusiastically preparing for the OZ First Customer Ship ("FCS") date this
coming Fall.=20

Here are the progress reports from the OZ Team with e-mail addresses,
should you desire additional details. The OZ team would like to wish
everyone a blissful holiday and our best wishes for 1998.

From: Laura Green (OZ Project Manager, redgreen at ukans.edu). =20
In order to put the OZ Software on the road to release it was necessary to
design a fast-track release schedule.  Starting mid-September, we
implemented a rigorous release life cycle model for the Project.  This
model contains achievable product development and release milestones with
defined completion requirements and associate risk management.  To put this
into plain English, we designed a multi-phase schedule with defined tasks
for systems analysis, programming, documentation, training, and
user-support.  The schedule also includes outlets for the identification of
possible problem areas.  I am pleased to report we are currently
on-schedule in the development phase of the Release Model.

With the help of Dr. Stan Blum, we redesigned the OZ data model.  It now
includes relevant components from the Association of Systematics
Collections Reference Model for Biological Collections (
http://gizmo.lbl.gov/DM_TOOLS/OPM/BCSL/BCSL.html ), and the University of
California Museum of Vertebrate Zoology Collections Information Model

The OZ database prototype (the program work in progress) is 75% designed.
We started with a "wish-list" of features and refined it to meet the
general needs of: Herpetology, Ichthyology, Mammalogy, Ornithology,
Paleontology, Entomology, General Invertebrates, and Botany. =20

In addition, we have now:
=B7 designed a web interface,
=B7 created a plan for data migration for users of other systems
=B7 generated an editable Taxonomic Dictionary for several disciplines
=B7 written a security system, and
=B7 created a fully-customizable user interface.

Every Monday the Release Team meets to go over assigned tasks and pin-point
problems areas that may impact product release.  We review the previous
week's progress and measure gains against the priority list of OZ features.
By the middle of January we will complete the planning phase of OZ and be
midway through development. All preliminary prototyped features will be
recorded in the OZ Functional Specifications Document. This document will
be available on our web site around late-January.

The tremendous amount of support we have received from the collections
community has been inspiring to all of us.  We not only feel we are
creating a quality product, but that we will be contributing significantly
to the work of so many dedicated collections professionals and researchers.
For me, it is a pleasure to see this project unfold.

From: Magnus Thorne (OZ Programmer, trichar at eagle.cc.ukans.edu). =20
I'm working on the web interface for OZ databases.  We will distribute OZ
with an integrated and highly configurable Web server which will run on the
same Windows 95 or Windows NT machine as the OZ database in order to
provide a live HTML link to collection catalogs. (To provide direct web
access to OZ data, this feature will require that your OZ database PC be
connected through your local network to the Internet.).

Because the WWW server/OZ database interface code will build queries
against the database, I am also working on OZ's querying code.  I decided
to use an API program in place of a CGI script to interface the WWW server
to the database because of the considerable performance gain.  As the usage
of your OZ web site grows, the web interface will be able to keep up
handily.  Our aim is to configure the distributed version, so that the web
interface is simple to set up and customize.  We will distribute HTML page
templates for web query screens but the interface will allow you to edit
our HTML templates to customize them to your liking by adding text,
graphics, or other design elements to your pages.=20

You may have concerns about your data going online via the web, but the OZ
security subsystem will have a 'web security level'.  You will be able to
configure which specimen information you wish to have accessible online.
The security will be hard coded directly into the web interface, so there
will be no way to bypass it.

From: Todd Kofford (OZ Programmer, tkofford at eagle.cc.ukans.edu). =20
In recent months, I have worked on source code control systems (SCCS) for
the OZ project and on developing a security module for the OZ application.

In addition, I have been evaluating several available Windows reporting
tools/packages which could be integrated into our Delphi source code.  The
primary evaluation criteria for a fully integrated reporting tool were
discussed and compiled into a checklist.  The checklist has served as the
basis for comparing the available tools/packages.  We are currently leaning
toward a product called "Piparti" from Digital Metaphors
(www.digital-metaphors.com), which provides sophisticated report design and
layout functions.  I am still evaluating many of the functions and features
OZ will need to handle the diversity and nuances of printed reports of
various kinds including labels, catalog reports, loan invoices, bottle
labels, among other types.  We recently sent out a network request for
additional samples of herbarium specimen labels to assess their design and
layout requirements.  Many thanks to all of you who kindly mailed and faxed
us examples.  They have proven most useful.

From: Tim Noble (OZ Programmer (timo at eagle.cc.ukans.edu).
Much of my time has been spent completing the OZ data model.  Many people,
including Stan Blum, Jim Beach, John Simmons, Kate Shaw, as well as other
collection managers and curators at the KU Natural History Museum have
aided in this task. =20

I have also been working with Laura Green to develop a reasonably simple
and 'intuitive' interface to the database that will allow people to fully
utilize OZ's power and flexibility without having to delve too deeply into
details of the design. Other tasks have included investigating geographic
name databases (which we may distribute with OZ or allow users to 'plug in'
to OZ) and designing a query builder.

From: Glenn Garneau (OZ Programmer, ghglenn at kuhub.cc.ukans.edu). =20
As the Data Integration Specialist for the OZ Project, I have been working
with several existing MUSE data sets to determine the kinds of issues that
arise when data are moved into the OZ database, which is built on a much
more complete and complex data model than was MUSE.  Data migration between
two markedly different data models is not without its challenges, but I am
confident we will develop sound and useful tools for migrating collection
data from MUSE to OZ in the coming months.  Our first data management
priority will be to migrate current MUSE sites who wish to convert.  We
will also provide migration services for non-MUSE sites as appropriate to
the mission of the project.  We also plan to provide tools through which a
site may import either taxonomic or collection records into the OZ system.=

Contact us!

The OZ Project
Dyche Hall-Natural History Museum
The University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS 66045-2454

ozlab at ukans.edu
(785) 864-3803 phone
(785) 864-5010 fax

More information about the Taxacom mailing list