Two years ago we started our adventure of writing free and libre Open Source Web on-line library catalog. We had plans for circulation, but circumstances directed us into improving catalogue itself.
This is a story about that path, one of many, which starts with prototype
described in previous paper presented at CUC 2002.
Since then, we implemented completely free WebPAC under GPL license. This project didn't had strict plan about phases in beginning, it evolved with user needs and requirements. It also had life of it's own, directing us into different uncharted territories, from user-interface design to software architectures. Some of decisions where good, some where bad and we are here to tell the tail.
Different available Open Source tools where considered for different tasks.
Some of them tested on small, spin-off projects which are also significant
add-on to pool of free software.
Best ideas where shared between projects, often resulting in improvements not envisioned at beginning. This enabled us to look beyond near goal, envisioning thing possible and enabling us to produce catalogue which is more that library catalog: it's a search engine for library data. Our users liked difference, while librarian wanted more strict searching. We tried to please them both.
Results where good even from commercial perspective. Using GPL licence for our work enabled us to improve WebPAC on different projects and share improvements between deployed installations. That way, this software project became service: changes where made based on requirements from users, and all installations received improvements.
Many software tools and components available under Open Source enabled us to do so. We are grateful for them, but finding right one for the task isn't always easy. Software design decision, like not using object oriented methods from beginning, also haunted us from time to time. We are now approaching limits of this code base, but have plans for next one. But the main question remains: where will WebPAC lead us next?
Dobrica Pavlinusic, self-proclaimed Unix addict and
Internet consultant, graduated from The University of Zagreb,
Faculty of Organization and Informatics in Varazdin, where he
received B.Sc. in Information Sciences.
His fields of interest include Internet technologies, Unix, Open Source movement, Free software and Linux.
Member of the supervisory board of HULK - Croatian Linux User Group and member of executive committee of HrOpen - Croatian Open Systems Users Forum.
Currently he is working for the largest pharmaceutical company in this part of Europe, where he performs system administration of Unix servers and implements Internet technologies based on Open Source.
Marijana Glavica is employed at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb, in the Department of Psychology Library. Currently she is involved in providing on-line resources to users of all Faculty Libraries. She also maintains the existing electronic library catalogue, and coordinates publishing of the catalogue and library related web pages on Internet.