in General, Libraries/Info Sci, Tech

More widgets

Richard over at CISTI took the library widget idea seriously.

He got a colleague who is obviously better at picking up XML than I to pull together a catalog searching widget. There’s a couple other nice features too, such as direct links to hold requests and books checked out.

But the absolute best part is that this provides a jumping off point for other library widget developers! The best way to learn any kind of web programming/scripting/etc is to have existing source code to look at and play with. Thankfully, Konfabulator’s widgets do not hide the source XML. I’ve already modified the CISTI widget to work on a basic level with the UAH catalog.

And then I noticed that Stephen, who actually coded the CISTI widget, made it even more accessable! In the widget preferences, the base URL for catalog searches can be changed! I spent 2 minutes playing with the UAH catalog to find the correct formatted URL, and voila! Instant access without even touching the underlying XML.

I hope Stephen doesn’t mind – I’m going to see about modifying the graphics and other features to make it more specific to UAH. I’d been trying to teach myself how to make widgets based on Konfabulator’s documentation. Seeing Stephen’s code makes so many things fall into place!

update: I’ve hit a snag… UAH’s catalog uses sessions. So once a session times out no more searches can be done without logging back in, even as a guest. I’ll have to put in some thought on how to get around the problem.

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  1. I don’t mind you using it at all Chad. I hope it’s useful, reused and extended.

    The session issue is one that I’ve encountered as well. For example, CISTI provides some article level metadata services but unfortunately I’m not able to easily implement anything with them due to the session requirements of the application.

    Ideally it would be nice if the widgets could make use of XML and Web-services (SOAP) based interfaces to get a lower level look into the library data. I hear that the konfabulator guys are looking into implementing something like that in future. That would increase the complexity, but increase the capability of similar widgets… and bring more of the library closer to the desktop.