In our application's built-in search engine, the search process includes 3
1. The user executes a query
2. A "preview" of the results is presented, containing the items' titles,
3. When an item is selected, the complete record is presented to the user.
This way, the system does the relatively expensive task of gathering the
complete item record only upon demand.
The z39.50 protocol consist of only two steps: searching and getting a list
of complete records. Due to the way our database is designed, converting our
native format to marcxml, for instance, requires an export operation, which
is quite heavy. Having to go through with that before the user can even be
sure the results are indeed what she was looking for could be quite a
The only solution I could think of is supplying a non-standard record schema
in which only a few selected fields would be returned. Then, if the user
would like to get the complete records, one of the standard schemas would be
used. Does this comply with the spirit of z39? will the average client
understand the idea? is there a better way?