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DigiCULT
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Info
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the public, general conditions for reading
the archives, general information about the
finding aids, etc.The pages containing the
static information are in XHTML format,
and content is displayed according to the
general layout or `skin' chosen for the site.
P
LEADE also has an interesting feature
for organising finding aids in sub-
sets and groups of subsets. Let us suppose
that an institution wants to organise the
available finding aid collections such as
those related to private companies, persons
and public institutions.These subsets can
be defined and grouped in PLEADE, and
documents can be added to one or more
subsets. Once accomplished, administrators
can easily configure in the interface a list
of finding aids per subset and provide spe-
cific search forms for documents within a
subset. Since no subset is hard coded in
PLEADE, administrators can define their
own subsets.
S
earching EAD documents
in
PLEADE is possible in various ways. In
the proposed interface, a simple search bar
is available in all pages, letting users make
simple full-text searches across all finding
aids published by PLEADE. Although
some users may find this feature sufficient
for their needs, administrators will often
want to provide more advanced search
forms. For such needs, PLEADE includes a
search form generator, dynamically build-
ing and displaying HTML search forms
from easy to create XML configuration
files.With the examples included in the
PLEADE distributions, building specialised
search forms should not be a problem for
anyone. All relevant EAD documents are
available for searching.
W
ith any search engine, one must
define what the searchable units of
information are. In PLEADE, these units
must be determined at the time of index-
ing (and not dynamically at query time)
and, to do this, the administrator is provid-
the EAD structure, such as hierarchical
browsing and discovery of information.
· Publishing framework: EAD docu-
ments can be published on the Web,
enabling users to browse and then read
the finding aids ­ and their accompany-
ing digital artefacts ­ online.
· Search engine: PLEADE is suitable for
publishing large collections of (small or
large) finding aids, thanks to the avail-
ability of a powerful search engine,
letting users find the most relevant
archival components directly.
· Highly configurable: PLEADE is
designed as a generic application and,
although it is usable straight `out of the
box', all kinds of configuration and local
adaptation are possible.
· Multilingual: By using Unicode-based
technologies (XML, Java), PLEADE is
ready for multilingualism, both in the
user interface (French and English are
currently available) and for full-text
searching.
· Web: PLEADE uses a Web architecture
(such as the Web itself, an intranet, even
a single computer or removable media
such as CD-ROM) for publishing the
finding aids.This basically means that
PLEADE itself is installed on a Web
server, and the users connect to the
application using a standard Web browser.
FUNCTIONAL OVERVIEW
A
n institution may use PLEADE for its
specific characteristics such as search-
ing and displaying EAD documents only,
or it can build its own Website with the
platform. In order to do this, PLEADE
provides four general features: publishing
static information, along with organising,
searching and displaying finding aids.
O
nce installed, PLEADE may be seen
as a traditional Website, as it includes
facilities for publishing static informa-
tion
and organising this information in a
configurable menu.This static information
may be a home page, opening hours for
French provider of software for archival
institutions.Their flagship product,
Arkhéïa, provides features for managing
archival repositories, but also includes a
module for building finding aids which
can then be exported in EAD format.
· AJLSM (Bordeaux, France, http://
www.ajlsm.com), an important provider
of services and tools for managing
documentary information using XML
and normalised solutions. AJLSM
specialises in cultural heritage informa-
tion systems, and is the main developer
of the SDX platform, the underlying
technology for PLEADE.
D
uring the past few months, two other
institutions have contributed greatly
to the development of the software by test-
ing and debugging it, and by providing
valuable comments and feature requests:
· The Centre historique des Archives
nationales
(Paris, France, http://www.
archivesnationales.culture.gouv.fr/chan/)
· The Archives départementales de
Maine-et-Loire
(Angers, France, http:
//www.cg49.fr/themes/archives-
departementales/)
C
urrently, PLEADE is available as a
second release candidate of version
1.0.This version has been thoroughly test-
ed, and can be downloaded from the
development Website. A final release of
version 1.0 should be made available in
December 2003.
MAIN CHARACTERISTICS
P
LEADE is a highly configurable and
multilingual Web publication frame-
work, including a search engine, for EAD
documents.There are a few important
concepts in this short description that we
should emphasise:
· EAD documents: As PLEADE is built
for EAD documents, everything is opti-
mised for the principal characteristics of