I'm the head of development of scope solutions, a Swiss based software
company. Our product scopeArchiv® uses an Oracle database. EAD is, or
better was, not such a hot topic with our customers that come mainly
from Switzerland, Germany and Austria. But this is changing. So we are
planning to add EAD export capabilities to our product. This is also why
I subscribed to this list. To find out how EAD is used and what problems
Now to your question or sentence, that caught my attention. "Reflections
on the advantages and disatvatages of using a tool like XMetal vs.
export capabilities from a database."
The reflections I give are my personal ones. I'm also not a "real"
archivist, but a software developer that is making software for
archivists. And I'm from Europe where traditions in archiving are
somewhat different than in the US. They reflections might also be a
little bit provoking, but that is on intent to stir up the discussion.
- Since I'm recieving the mails from this list, I was surprised to see,
that XMetal seems to be "the" tool
that is used by archivist to create EAD documents.
Why would a sane person do something like this?
It seems to me, that it is very cumbersome and a lot of detailed
knowledge about EAD is needed.
- Is my assumption correct, that in the US an archive is either using
the XML/HTML way or the database way,
but not a mixture. (Meaning having a database, but still creating EAD
documents "by hand")
If this assumption is true, then I dare to state, that archives that
use the XML/HTML way will be
constrained in the future.
- If a finding aid is made by XMetal you are bound to the tags that
are defined. In a lot of cases
these tags are sufficient. From my experience with our customers I
know, that there is always the need
for a special field. (That's why our software allows the
(admin)-user to define any field that is needed.)
So when using a database one can add this field and store that
information. The export that is made from
the database can still be a valid EAD file.
- If you create your finding aids by means of XMetal, you're ending up
with a lot of files that describe
separate collections. Making references to other units of
descriptions in other EAD documents is
probably not that easy and the breaking of links (by moving
documents) can not be prevented.
When using a database all collections can be stored in the same
database. The linking of UD within
the database is easy and the breaking of links can be prohibited by
- In a database binary information like images, sound and videos can
be stored. This is not possible
with an EAD document, or at least not that easy.
- Databases use a mature and proven language for querying it's
contents. With SQL you can find
specific information in a database that contains millions of units
of description in a fraction
of a second.
I personaly haven't seen an XML file containing a million records
that will even load into memory.
- When using a database one can create a web application that is quering
the database directly. There would
even be no need to create a finding aid, because over the web the user
can query all the information.
- A disadvantage of the database way is the fact, that a database will
probably not designed with
EAD in mind. Creating an EAD document from a database might therefore
not support all the possibilities
that EAD can offer. But nonetheless a valid EAD can be created.
This is what came to my mind at the moment. Any comments or suggestions
If someone is interested in my company you'll find some information at
http://www.scope.ch. A online
version of our product "Query" can be found at
http://188.8.131.52/Query2 (State Archive of St. Gall)
scope solutions ag
Masch. Ing. HTL / Leiter Entwicklung
Clarastrasse 6, CH-4058 Basel
Telefon direkt: +41 (61) 690 97 56
Telefax: +41 (61) 690 97 51
mailto:[log in to unmask]
Von: Encoded Archival Description List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] Im Auftrag
von Christine de Catanzaro
Gesendet: Mittwoch, 15. Dezember 2004 22:42
An: [log in to unmask]
Betreff: MYSQL and EAD
I have a question regarding EAD and MYSQL. Does anyone on the list input
finding aids into a MYSQL database, and then export them to XML? I would
really appreciate hearing from representatives of any institution using
this system. I would like to get a description of the procedures, and
follow up with further questions about database structure etc.
At the moment, at Georgia Tech this system is followed using an Access
database, but plans are to migrate the Access database to MYSQL. In
addition the database is currently exporting in EAD Version 1.0; we
would need to make the changes to EAD Version 2002. I'd really like to
hear from anyone who has had the experience of migrating databases
and/or making the changes to EAD 2002 using the database encoding
I recently came from an institution where we entered finding aids into
XML directly using XMetal, and then worked with systems personnel on
stylesheet and web presentation both in XML and HTML. Any reflections on
the advantages and disadvantages of this method vs. the database method
would be welcome.
Thank you in advance,
Christine D. de Catanzaro
Georgia Tech Library and Information Center
704 Cherry Street
Atlanta, GA 30332-0900
email: [log in to unmask]
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