Connect compilations will be introduced into ingentaconnect during the next couple of weeks, its features represent a delicious sample of the technical offering Ingenta is cooking up.
Connect Compilations enable publishers to assemble 'virtual' publications from their existing content on connect. Compilations are given titles, descriptions, links and logos such that they look similar to conventional publications. They may be organised in familiar serial and monograph formats. At ingentaconnect Compilations may be purchased and subscribed to in the same way as other publications. Crucially the publisher has control over the Compilation, it is available to amend and augment whenever they please.
From an end user perspective Connect Compilations will be quietly integrated into the search and browse facilities on connect. For publishers the changes are more marked, a whole set of administration tools have been introduced.
To provide powerful administration tools we've increased our adoption of client side plugins (based on Jquery) and paradigms like AJAX. Both have been on the list of 'must have' technical buzz words for a some time, but we've taken care only to employ them where there is tangible benefit. Most significant is the introduction of semantic technologies; an RDF triple store for data, SPARQL to query it, Jena and our own framework to represent data to the application.
One may well ask what immediate benefit does semantic technology bring, beyond exciting programmers and web luminaries? The first benefit we'll see on ingentaconnect is tighter integration, both inside the site and with the wider web. RDF enables us to make assertions about resources (like articles, authors and references) without imposing constraints on the assertions made, or how they will be used. Crucially we can use the assertions to draw conclusions, or inferences, to fill in gaps, and really 'understand' the data. All of this is achieved with little redundancy or repetition. The factors combine to produce a store on which services to cater for varying requirements and perspectives can readily be built.
The benefits I've mentioned thus far could of course be realised with a relational database, but we're laying our new foundations at present, and more will grow out them.
In down to earth speak, all this means ingentaconnect, and close relation pub2web, will increasingly provide accurate linking, interesting ways to splice together content and, as Connect Compilations demonstrates, put control into the hands of online Publishers.