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Image Databases in Practice


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  • 1. Metadata for Asset Management Peter B. Hirtle Co-Director Cornell Institute for Digital Collections
  • 2. Problem: Imaging projects produce many digital files
  • 3.  
  • 4. Problem redux…
    • How to you locate, manage, and display scanned images?
  • 5. One possible answer:
    • Put identifying information into the file header
    • Problems with this approach
      • Hard to search and retrieve
      • May change over time
      • May not be able to migrate data
  • 6. Second approach
    • Use an image management system to manage images:
    • A software application (often a database) used for organizing, managing, and providing access to digital media
  • 7. Image management system
    • Provides tools for searching
      • (Descriptive metadata)
    • Provides public and internal links to the images
    • (Structural metadata)
    • Provides the control elements needed for short and long-term access
    • (administrative metadata)
  • 8. Metadata for image management
    • No single accepted standards for each type of metadata
      • Descriptive metadata
        • MARC, DC, MOA2, EAD, VRA, Open Archives Initiative
      • Structural metadata
        • LC RFP’s, MOA2, DOIs
      • Administrative metadata
        • DIG 35, NISO draft standard, MOA2, in process preservation standards such as CEDARS
  • 9. Key concept: metadata is seldom fixed
    • You will be massaging the metadata throughout the life of the project
      • To conform to emerging standards
      • To adjust to new technical environments
      • To add functionality
    Once you start a digital project, you are committed to it for life
  • 10. So where do you get an image management solution?
    • No single off the shelf solution
    • Solutions vary according to:
      • complexity
      • performance
      • cost
  • 11. What is the “ideal solution”…?
    • Dependent upon your needs:
      • size of database
      • expected demand for images
      • volatility of the data
      • available technical resources
  • 12. Other elements to consider....
    • Access to a controlled thesaurus
    • Flexibility in database design
    • The expected life-span of the data
    • If permanent, the potential for migration
      • Adherence to database standards
      • Adherence to data content standards
  • 13. Three classes of solutions
    • Generic database applications
      • Desktop
      • Client/server
    • Specialized image management programs
    • SGML-based solutions
  • 14. Generic database applications
    • Most common desktop programs
      • MS Access, Filemaker Pro
    • Client/server applications
      • Oracle, Informix (including Illustra), 4th Dimension, object-oriented applications
  • 15. Demo Here
  • 16. Advantages to desktop programs
    • Low initial cost for desktop programs
    • Desktop programs are relatively easy to program and use
    • Simple data import and export
    • Growing 3rd-party market of add-ons (especially web tools)
  • 17. Disadvantages
    • Desktop solutions limited in size
      • (< 10,000?)
    • Few standardized data structures
    • Web interfaces require customization
    • High costs of programming
      • explicit with large applications
      • hidden but real with desktop
  • 18. Specialized image management programs
    • “ Desktop” examples:
      • Canto’s Cumulus
      • ImageAXS
      • Portfolio (formerly Fetch)
      • Content (shown here)
  • 19. Advantages
    • Pre-defined data structure
    • Built-in links to images
    • Some are cross-platform
    • Some have built-in links to the web
    • Overall, less programming expertise required
  • 20. Disadvantages
    • Fixed data structure
    • Proprietary database structures
    • Limited customization possible
    • Web access is primarily via scripts
  • 21. Larger client/server image management programs
    • Library software
    • Museum-oriented programs
    • Document management programs
    • Digital library solutions
    • Other programs for newspaper photos, stock photos, multimedia asset management, etc.
  • 22. Library systems
    • Image-enabled library catalogs include
      • VTLS
      • CARL
      • OCLC Sitesearch
      • Endeavor’s Voyager and ENCOMPASS
      • RLG has a system in development
    • All library systems will head in this direction
  • 23. Advantages
    • Ready links between catalog and digital images
    • Built on common data structures
      • MARC or Dublin Core
    • Increased likelihood they will exploit library-specific metadata
    • Greater possibility for shared resources
  • 24. Disadvantages
    • Poor integration between images and text
    • No common repository standard
    • No shared standard for utilizing metadata
    • Administrative hurdles
      • Do digital imaging and Library Systems talk to each other?
  • 25. SGML and XML-based systems
    • A new approach: using metadata encoded with SGML or XML
    • Based on document type definitions (DTD)
    • Examples:
      • Photographs using EAD: California Heritage project
      • Text using Ebind (electronic binding DTD)
      • Agora’s complete management system
  • 26. Why consider SGML?
    • Based on an international standard
    • DTD’s may themselves become standard
      • Example: MOA2
    • May be more appropriate for text-oriented description
    • Links to other SGML or XML-encoded resources are possible
  • 27. Disadvantages to SGML
    • Little native client support for SGML
    • SGML engines may not be as powerful as relational databases
    • XML databases are just being developed
    • Native SGML software tends to be expensive
    • Often it is easier to store data in a database, and write it out with SGML XML tags for exchange or export
  • 28. Summary
    • No single imagebase package is likely to meet all your needs
    • Plan on continuously modifying databases, interfaces, and metadata
    • Monitor closely the work developing image database standards in the area of greatest interest to you
    • Avoid if possible the hidden costs of internal development