The Nesstar suite is an online publishing platform for organisations wishing to share datasets both internally and with the wider web. The software consists of three tools: Nesstar Publisher, which allows users to create and edit metadata attached to their data; the Nesstar Server, which is an extension to a normal web server; and Nesstar WebView, which allows users to search, browse, access, analyse, and download the published data through a web browser. Nesstar was designed primarily for Social Science Data.
Nesstar, a joint development project between the Norwegian Social Science Data Services, UK Data Archive, and the Danish Data Archive
Licensing and cost
Nesstar Publisher is free under a custom license. 60-day trial versions of the Server and WebView are available under the same license. Permanent installations with accompanying support are available for a fee; specific pricing is unavailable on the site.
Version 18.104.22.168 of the Server was released November 2012, .and version 4.0.9 of the Publisher was released April 2013. Development appears to be ongoing.
Platform and interoperability
The Nesstar Server requires 2GB of RAM, although 4GB is preferable. It also requires a 2Ghz CPU or faster, with multi-core CPUs recommended, and a minimum 10GB hard disk. The Windows version will run on Windows XP/2000/Vista/7 or Windows Server 2003/2008R2; while Linux should be run on i386 or compatible processors. The software requires Java 1.6, Java Advanced Imaging libraries, MySQL, and Apache Ant version 1.6 or higher. Nesstar WebView is theoretically platform agnostic, and has been tested with Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, and Opera. Nesstar Publisher requires Windows XP, 2000, Vista or Windows7; there is no unix/linux version. Nesstar offers an API for integration into an organisation’s existing applications.
Nesstar handles survey data and multidimensional tables as well as text resources, allowing users to download data subsets in a number of formats for local use. The system embraces semantic web principles, treating metadata as more than a means to discover resources; a metadata-browser allows user to jump from full-text descriptions of variables to statistical analysis, so that when analysing data, the relevant parts of the metadata are also readily available. Nesstar Publisher can be used as a standalone tool for the preparation of data and metadata but can also be used to transfer the enhanced dataset onto a Nesstar Server. The Nesstar server can be configured to provide authentication and access controls.
Documentation and user support
For version 4.0, the website offers a detailed Administrator Guide for the Server, as well as User Guides for Publisher and WebView. Users with the appropriate license receive ongoing support, including software patches, new releases and updates, and a Help Desk accessible though email or a call centre.
The Publisher offers a Graphical User Interface, while WebView uses a web interface.
Users should be familiar with their organisation’s preferred metadata standards, including relevant taxonomies.
Nesstar offers an OAI-PMH server and supports the DDI metadata standard.
Influence and take-up
Nesstar advertises that it is used by about one hundred institutions in the public and academic sectors, including the East Sussex County Council, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Australian Social Science Data Archive, and NORC at the University of Chicago.