dbDIPview provides simultaneous access to multiple archived databases for non-technical end-users in the electronic reading rooms. To the archivist, it offers a way to work with Representation Information. It deals with:
- - representation information that supplements original database data packages,
- - automatic deployment of database packages (data objects) and related access packages, including redaction
- - access mechanism to the database via a browser menu with report selection and search screen for a selected database that mimics the original application.
Licensing and cost
dbDIPview has been initially created in 2009 and is continuously being improved to cover requirements by new use cases in the area of long‐term preservation of databases.
Platform and interoperability
Linux, PHP, Apache2, PostgreSQL
Before export from the original environment is started, no modification of the data is needed, like de-normalization or the creation of additional views. This is important to ensure data integrity and authenticity.
A database can be stored in SIARD or dbDIPview packaging (based on CSV) format. Complex combinations of data packages are possible.
In the SIP/AIP Audit Phase in the archives, an expert needs to validate the content. For the archivist, the most convenient way is to use a dissemination package. During the validation process, database queries are prepared to show the content of the tables in the same way it is shown in the reports from the original environment. The queries are written in pure (portable) SQL and are stored in long-term storage as part of the Representation Information Package. The queries can be prepared using the information provided by the creator, using some dedicated query builder, or simply manually. When a basic query is ready, the search criteria panel including drop-down fields, and drill down behaviour can be configured. The test serves as proof that the information in the database is well understood, described for future use and is ready for dissemination.
Upon request by an end-user, the order fulfillment process enables that packages are transferred to the dedicated dbDIPview server. There, the information in the database Representation Information Package enables seamless automated deployment of data package(s) of the archived database data objects and setting up of the rendering module. Automated database redaction and creation of additional views are possible at this stage. The user can be redirected via a unique code directly to the menu with queries for the desired database.
When dissemination is not needed anymore, the database can be removed, or it remains available as persistent DIP (DIPp).
Some benefits of this approach:
- The quality of ingested data in the SIP is tested during the pre-ingest and ingest process when we prepare the rendering information
- After the ingest, no further expert involvement is needed for future use of the content because the tool is archival personnel friendly and allows unattended deployment
- The configurable interface enables mimicking the reporting part of the original application
- Links to external files are possible from column data
- Table content and external files can be added to existing DIPp, thus eliminating the need for redeployment.
- Database restoration can be done from SIARD files (via external tools SIARD Suite or DBPTK) or packages with CSV files
- Redaction of database tables can be configured as part of representation information to be carried out during deployment
- Preconfigured end-user friendly browser user interface
- The end-user can download the result of a query as a CSV file
- It is possible to combine and link the results, i.e., jump from one report to another one with detailed information
- Database column descriptions are shown as infotip
- Simple technology minimizes the dependencies and increases maintainability, technical robustness, and supportability for long-term use
- PHP code simplifies security audit if it is requested before deployment into the archival environment
Documentation and user support
Demonstration examples are included with sample databases and related Representation Information.
End-users interact with the system through a browser user interface and work with the accessible databases. The hierarchical reports menu enables selection between available reports to access the information without the assistance of an expert. In the results pane, drill-down links to further reports may be available based on column values. BLOB data and external files may be shown. Additional metadata can be shown with each report to provide a detailed description of the given report.
Basic knowledge of Linux system administration is needed for initial installation and configuration. Familiarity with basic SQL commands and an understanding of database structure is needed to configure the viewer. No special skills are required for the end-user.
dbDIPview uses its XML schema for storing information about the queries, and its format for packaging the Representation Information Package and optional CSV package. The queries should not use any SQL dialect to minimize compatibility issues with a target database.
Influence and take-up
The tool is in production use.
Some details of database data rendering: https://github.com/dbdipview/dbdipview/wiki/Screenshots
The tool is stable but new features are added from time to time. All development activity is visible on GitHub.