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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:  

 

MIGRATING AUDIO & METADATA

 

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.  

 

IMPORTING PLAYLISTS

 

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

 

MIGRATING BOOKMARKS

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Cloud-based Hosting Announcements

One of the major goals of the current phase of Avalon, supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is evolving Avalon to include a hosted software-as-a-service (SaaS) option in order to help grow the Avalon user base.

 

The Avalon team is excited to announce 3 recent steps made towards cloud-based, hosted solutions:

 

1)   The Avalon team has successfully completed a number of necessary upgrades towards cloud based services.

 

Our team has a proof-of-concept implementation Avalon 5.1 running Amazon Web Services (AWS), taking advantage of AWS services such as Amazon Elastic Transcoder and CloudFront Streaming.

 

As of the upcoming Avalon 6.0 release (currently available in an Alpha test version), Avalon runs on Fedora 4.  This includes new data models, an update to Hydra 10 and Solr and Ruby upgrades.

 

2)    The Avalon team is partnering with Lyrasis and DuraSpace to explore a SaaS offering of Avalon by Lyrasis that would leverage DuraCloud for preservation storage. 

 

Our first step is to gauge interest in such a service as well as to identify potential pilot participants. To help us with this assessment, we would appreciate it if you could fill out the following survey:  http://bit.ly/2dLTVrh

 

3)   Data Curation Experts has announced that they will offer hosted Avalon as a service beginning in January 2017.

 

This offering includes installation, setup and support of an Avalon instance in AWS for institutions who may not have the infrastructure or staff to spin up their own instance of Avalon or may want to start with Avalon in the cloud and eventually move it in house.

 

 

 

Announcing Avalon 5.1

 

 

 

Release 5.1 is a feature improvements release.

  • Markers (labeled time offsets) available in Playlist items for annotation and navigation
  • Tools for institutions moving from Variations to Avalon  

     *Self-service import of Variations playlist files into Avalon playlist

     *Migration tools for system administrators to import user bookmarks in Variations to Avalon

  • Minor bug fixes

     *Apostrophes in media object titles causing load failures

     *Various smart phone page display tweaks

     *Improved error handling for uploading

 

Users of Avalon 5.0.1 and previous releases can take advantage of these new features by Upgrading to Avalon 5.1.

For more details on each of these new features, visit: What’s New in Avalon 5 wiki page or our github.    

Please feel free to try Avalon 5.1 on our public test server before installation.
     *Installation options include virtual machine image, manual installation, and puppet upgrade. 

More information on all available options can be found on the Avalon web site’s download page: http://www.avalonmediasystem.org/download

We welcome your feedback on Avalon 5.1 via the avalon-discuss-l discussion list.   Join the discussion list at http://www.avalonmediasystem.org/connect

 
 

 

 

 

Sprint 104: Markers, Variations Migration Tool, AWS mapping

The Avalon team's demo for sprint 104 is now available for viewing.

 

 

104 focused on:

·     Finishing new playlist features for 5.

·     Fedora 4 model investigations for Avalon 6.0 release.

·     Tool for Variations bookmarks to import into Avalon 5.  

·     Preparation for AWS pilot.

 

104’s demo highlights:

·     Markers (available ONLY within an Avalon playlist) are time points within an item you can name, and refer to visually on the media player.

·     Variations migrations tool: a configurable button to help Variations users move bookmarks into their instance of Avalon. 

·     First draft of diagram of Avalon in the cloud running on AWS.  

 

 

Watch the demo here: 

https://pawpaw.dlib.indiana.edu/media_objects/avalon:9651

To view all demos, here's our Avalon collection: http://bit.ly/2apvrmd

 

 

 

Please note our upcoming point release this week:

5.1 – improved 5.0 feature releases, specifically playlist features. 

 

 

Our waffle board#Avalon slack chat on the HydraPartners channel and our renewed commitment to shareable sprint demos are all measures to bring community insight and inspiration to the Avalon code and design.

 

 

 

 

Announcing Bug Fix Release 5.0.1

Announcing Avalon 5.0.1

 

Release 5.0.1 is a bug fix release. The following issues were resolved:

•  Inconsistencies in Avalon’s media player on some mobile device browsers

•  Captions intermittently failed to appear on the media player when enabled

•  Users would occasionally encounter error screens when searching

 

Users of Avalon 4.0 can take advantage of these new features by Upgrading to Avalon 5.0.1.

 

NOTE: Avalon Release 5.1 will be ready for download by the end of July.

This release will include feature improvements around playlist functionality. 

 

For more details on each of these new features, visit: What’s New in Avalon 5 wiki page. 

  

Please feel free to try Avalon 5.0.1 on our public test server http://www.avalonmediasystem.org/try-out-avalon before installation.

 

·  Installation options include virtual machine image, manual installation, and puppet upgrade. More information on all available options can be found on the Avalon web site’s Download page: http://www.avalonmediasystem.org/download

 

We welcome your feedback on Avalon 5.0.1 via the avalon-discuss-l discussion list.   Join the discussion list at http://www.avalonmediasystem.org/connect

 

Sprint 103: Markers for Playlists

The Avalon team's demo for sprint 103 is now available.

 

103 focused on:

·     Packaging bug release 5.0.1

·     Adding new play list features for 5.1, of note is our markers feature

·     Fedora 4 research for Avalon 6.0 release.

 

103’s demo is our new marker feature:

·     Markers allow users to add descriptions of moments in time to music tracks and videos within a playlist.

·     Key use cases are for finding specific solos or scenes in streaming media. 

·     Markers can be edited and deleted by users. 

 

Watch here:

https://pawpaw.dlib.indiana.edu/media_objects/avalon:9646

 

To view all demos, here's our Avalon collection: https://pawpaw.dlib.indiana.edu/catalog?f%5Bcollection_ssim%5D%5B%5D=Avalon+Sprint+Demos&q=&search_field=all_fields

 

 

2 upcoming point releases:

 

5.0.1 – critical bug fixes (this week!)

5.1.0 – improved 5.0 feature releases, specifically playlist features. 

 

If you would like to check out the waffle board:

https://waffle.io/avalonmediasystem/avalon

 

Our waffle board, #Avalon slack chat on the HydraPartners channel and our renewed commitment to shareable sprint demos are all measures to bring community insight and inspiration to the Avalon code and design.

 

 

 

 

 

Sprint 102

The Avalon team's demo for sprint 102 -- showing our new waffle.io board, walking through our current design for a playlist marker and demonstrating RuboCop in our development branch -- is now available: https://pawpaw.dlib.indiana.edu/media_objects/avalon:9641

 

 

To view all demos, here's our Avalon collection: https://pawpaw.dlib.indiana.edu/catalog?f%5Bcollection_ssim%5D%5B%5D=Avalon+Sprint+Demos&q=&search_field=all_fields

 

 

Note that in this demo we are also announcing 2 upcoming point releases:

 

5.0.1 – critical bug fixes

5.1.0 – improved 5.0 feature releases, specifically playlist features. 

 

If you would like to check out our new waffle board:

https://waffle.io/avalonmediasystem/avalon

 

Our waffle board, along with our #Avalon slack channel in Hydra AND our new RuboCop best practices are all measures to bring community insight and inspiration to the Avalon code and design.  

 

 

 

 

Announcing Avalon 5.0

Announcing Avalon 5.0

 

Indiana University and Northwestern University are pleased to announce Avalon Media System 5.0.

Release 5.0 adds the following capabilities:

 

·      Organization and Sharing Features

o   Create private or shareable Playlists

o   Add whole audio and video files or clips to playlists

·      Content Ingest API

o   A lightweight API for importing metadata and links to existing derivatives into Avalon.

·      Access control enhancements

o   IP based access control

o   “Date digitized” field for master files.

o   Grant access permission for items for set periods of time

·      More granular searching

o   Searching now includes section and structure labels

o   “Date digitized” provided as admin facet.

·      Accessibility phase 2

o   Support for ingesting/delivering captions in VTT and/or SRT files

o   Player shows captions when available

o   End user can toggle captioning on/off via player control - mouse and keyboard.

 

Users of Avalon 4.0 can take advantage of these new features by Upgrading Avalon 4.0 to Avalon 5.0.

 

For a more comprehensive list of changes, see the 5.0 release notes.

 

For more details on each of these new features, visit: What’s New in Avalon 5.0

Please feel free to try Avalon 5.0 on our public test server (http://www.avalonmediasystem.org/try-out-avalon) before installation.

 

 

•          Installation options include virtual machine image, manual installation, and puppet upgrade. More information on all available options can be found on the Avalon web site’s Download page: http://www.avalonmediasystem.org/download

 

We welcome your feedback on Avalon 5.0 via the avalon-discuss-l discussion list.   Join the discussion list at http://www.avalonmediasystem.org/connect

 

Best regards,

 

Jon Dunn

Evviva Weinraub

Avalon Media System Project Co-Directors

 

 

Community Development Assessment Update

In the past few months we have not only located ten media researchers at Northwestern University, but also conducted our first round of observations and interviews. With the diary study a few weeks underway as well, we wanted to share some of what we're learning so far about how academics use media in their research, and how Avalon could better serve their needs.

So far we have realized how screen grabs are important to many media researchers, as well as efficient ways to label and later search media files on their computer. Additionally, many of the academics we have worked with still rely on paper to take their notes, with none using in-player annotation tools. However, the in-player scrolling thumbnail has proved to be the most popular feature that researchers use. Across the board study participants put up with non-ideal conditions when working with media, because of the lack of extant and accurate historical content. The struggle is real, folks. As the study continues, we hope to learn more about how to better assist researchers in locating media and seamlessly using it for their research.

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Come See Avalon at OR 2016 - DUBLIN

We are packing our bags, dusting off the passports, putting the final touches on our PowerPoints and heading off to OR 2016!

We hope you'll come see us present if you're in Dublin next week.  

Here's where we'll be:

MONDAY, July 13 9:00am - 11:00pm · Location: Lloyd D 

Intro to Hydra and Making it Useful in Your Organization

Chris Awre2, Karen Estlund1, Ellen Ramsey3, Evviva Weinraub4

1Pennsylvania State University, United States of America; 2University of Hull, United Kingdom; 3University of Virginia, United States of America; 4Northwestern University, United States of America

This two-hour workshop will provide those new to Hydra or considering implementing Hydra with a base knowledge of the Hydra framework and community. The workshop will begin with a showcase and review of Hydra implementations and repository functions currently used in select instantiations. The workshop will also provide an overview of the Hydra framework demonstrating how different components fit together, how the community structure supports and furthers Hydra as a whole, and examples of outcomes from the working and interest groups. During the second half of the session, participants will split into two tracks: Service Management and Project Management. The Service Management group will identify shared key performance indicators for a Hydra implementation and design ways to share data across institutions. The Project Management group will map out a development roadmap for a feature or customization to demonstrate a sample process for one’s local Hydra implementation. The workshop will conclude with a question and answer session where participants will share concerns and map out problems and challenges brainstorming solutions and paths forward.

 

TUESDAY, July 14, 4:00pm-5:30pm · Location: Maxwell Theatre

Researching Researchers: Avalon Media System's Ethnographic Study of Media Repository Usage

Deborah I. Cane, Carolyn Caizzi

Northwestern University Libraries, United States of America

The Avalon Media System is an open source system, developed by the libraries at Indiana University Bloomington and Northwestern University, for managing and providing access to large collections of digital audio and video. The freely available system enables libraries and archives to easily curate, distribute and provide online access to their collections for purposes of teaching, learning and research. The Avalon community is made up of a dozen educational, media and open-technology institutions and the project is funded in part by a two-year grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

With the use of the Mellon grant, we have designed, developed and are currently conducting a study of scholarly use of audio and video collections by researchers over multiple disciplines within the Humanities. Our methodology for the study is seated in ethnographic inquiry and user experience modeling, and we will use these results internally to guide future feature prioritization for Avalon.

The study is being conducted with three different kinds of data collection:

1. Environmental Observation

2. Interviews based on observations

3. Diary Study

Avalon team members will present early findings, themes, potential user stories, and a current assessment of our ethnographic study focusing on process, product and participation.

 

THURSDAY, July 16 11:00am-12:30pm · Location: CA 1

Avalon at a Crossroads: From Collaboration to Community

Jon W. Dunn1, Evviva Weinraub2

1Indiana University, United States of America; 2Northwestern University, United States of America

Avalon Media System is an open source software system, originally developed by the libraries at Indiana University and Northwestern University, for managing and providing online access to large collections of digital audio and video for purposes of teaching, learning and research. Avalon was initially released in 2013, and as of early 2016, there are at least six adopters of Avalon but no consistent pathway for adopters to contribute financial or development resources to the project.

In 2015, we were awarded a grant from the Mellon Foundation to create a long-term sustainability plan that includes better integration with the Hydra community, a strategy to increase adoption, and a pilot of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering in addition to its current locally-installed model.

This presentation will provide an outline of Avalon’s path forward and how it corresponds with directions of the Hydra and Fedora communities. We are radically changing our development strategy as we move forward, and we will discuss our strategic initiatives and outline new areas of exploration and development. Additionally, we will talk about the advantages and disadvantages we have seen in our partnership model and how we plan to evolve that model as we move forward with Avalon’s development.

 

HydraDAM2: Repository Challenges and Solutions for Large Media Files

Karen Cariani1, Jon W. Dunn2

1WGBH Educational Foundation, United States of America; 2Indiana University, United States of America

Indiana University and WGBH are jointly developing a preservation-focused digital repository system for audio and video, known as HydraDAM 2, using the Hydra technology stack and Fedora 4 repository platform. It is well known that media preservation files can be very large, have complex structure, and require significant processing to enhance access.

Although Fedora 4 is designed to be more capable of storing large files directly within the repository, there are still reasons to consider storing the preservation files outside the repository with pointers to the actual storage locations. HydraDAM 2 is being designed to support two different storage models: one that stores media files in the repository (potentially via an integrated hierarchical storage management system) and one that stores files offline, with only pointers and metadata in the repository.

In this presentation, we will discuss the architecture and design of HydraDAM 2, briefly demonstrate the system as developed to date, and walk through the workflow process. We will also discuss our roadmap for future development.

 

We will of course be at lots of other events, learning and live tweeting!  

Find us! Chat with us!  

 

 

 

 

 

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