Migrating from Variations to Avalon

One of the past projects that led to the development of Avalon is the Variations digital music library system. In fact, the original name of the Avalon project was “Variations on Video.” Variations was originally developed under a partnership between Indiana University and IBM in the mid-1990s and represented one of the first audio streaming services and first digital repositories of music content on the Internet when it went online in 1996. In the early 2000s, a major grant from the National Science Foundation led to a new implementation of Variations that added many tools to support pedagogical and scholarly use of music content and explored relational models for music metadata, and a grant from IMLS in the mid-2000s led to the release of Variations as an open source software system for use by libraries and institutions beyond IU.


Now, as we mark the 20th anniversary of Variations, the Variations code base is nearing the end of its lifespan, as technological changes make it no longer possible to maintain in its current form. In particular, QuickTime for Java is no longer being supported or developed by Apple, making it difficult or impossible to run the Variations client on modern versions of Windows and Mac OS.


This past summer, Indiana University successfully migrated its 28,000 audio items from Variations to Avalon 5.1. Both systems are being used in parallel during the Fall 2016 semester, and at the end of December, IU’s Variations instance will be decommissioned. IU is currently planning to move its musical scores currently in Variations to a Hydra application based on Princeton University Library’s Plum.


Each institution implementing Variations has made a number of local choices that make it impossible to create a one-size-fits-all recipe for moving from Variations to Avalon, but IU and the Avalon project are happy to share the documentation and tools we have developed, in order to assist institutions that will need to undertake a similar migration.   The following is a quick links directory to getting started:  




On a new page on the Avalon wiki, you can find step-by-step details on our migration of audio files and metadata, along with copies of scripts that we developed to help with the process.  At the end of the page, we discuss how we set up access restrictions and other collection and item level permissions.  




Avalon has a built-in Variations Playlist File importer, and you can find more information regarding importing playlists here: https://wiki.dlib.indiana.edu/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=523866277




Variations bookmarks may be exported to JSON and imported into Avalon as playlists, and you can find more information in this gist: https://gist.github.com/mcwhitaker/03cab8a63bf80d431fa915b235522814



If you have additional questions or would like advice on how to handle your specific migration situation, please post to the avalon-discuss-l mailing list for follow up.