Prism Blog

Archive for the 'Extensions' Category

Searching Prism from everywhere

The easiest way to extend the reach of your Prism is to encourage your users to search it from wherever they are.  Embedding the Prism search box in any site is simply a matter of pasting some code into the site page. You can find all you need in a Developer Documentation topic in the Prism Forum.

Here are a few examples based upon the Broadminster demonstration tenancy – all you would have to do is change the address used in these examples to that of your tenancy and you will be up and running!

Here are a couple of examples:

Prism Search PromptIn your Blog
Just like this blog, most blog systems allow you to create widgets that contain html.   So why not embed a search prompt for your library catalogue on to your library blog, just like we have done.

In your Browser
The Internet Explorer Web Browsers has a search box that enables you to directly search places such as Google and Wikipedia.  It also enables you to add custom search targets – so why now add one for your local Prism catalogue.
Here are the steps:

  1. Go to your Prism tenancy home page and search for ‘TEST’ – without the quotes but yes in uppercase.
  2. Select the text in the browser address bar and copy it – it will look something like this:
  3. Select ‘Find More Providers…’ from the search menu at the top right of the browser
    ie select
  4. Paste the address you copied in to the prompt on the right of the page, enter a name for the search in the prompt below, click the Install button and job done.
    ie target

There are lots more places that you can embed a search prompt, such as your library, council, or university web site.  As the code that is inserted is simple html, the way the prompt appears can be styled to suite the page it is inserted upon.   Loads of possibilities – I would love to hear of your ideas and your experience.

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Successful first Prism Day in Birmingham

 Talis Prism - Search ResultsToday saw the first Prism day to look at the new Prism and to see and hear from those at Talis talk about the new architecture behind it, the design aspects of the new interface, and how it can be extended.

Thirteen representatives of customers joined us at the Talis Birmingham offices.  As the first of these events it was very much a two way event, with Talis staff learning as much about how Prism is to be used and received, as customers understanding the things to be considered for a new Prism implementation.

Set in the context of the development of a whole new architecture and product fit to support and enable the needs of a discovery application with a ten year lifespan, the primary consideration is planning.  The implementation of Prism is a project, probably extending over several months, which requires engagement from the start of the library, IT, web teams and designers, and from the Talis  consultancy team.

Dave Robinson & Chris Waring from the Talis design team showed several stunning designs that have already been applied to some early adopter prism tenancies.  They also showed the Broadminster demonstration tenancy interface, which sported an animated book jacket carousel.  These they used to show how the designs where evolved and what some of the possibilities are.

Prism gbs Towards the end of the day I had an opportunity to demonstrate some work I have being doing on how other services, such as Google Book Search and screen reader technology can be added to the Prism interface.  Also on show for the first time was the Prism area of the Talis Developer Wiki, where the community of Prism users and developers will be able to share these experiences, code, and documentation for Prism extensions.

From feedback at the end of the day, it was clear that many had found it very useful.  A great start and I encourage all who are contemplating moving to the new version of Prism to sign up for and attend one of the other scheduled days.

Design – Configure – Customise – Extend

Whilst discussing the way libraries will want to change, over the lifetime of the product,  the way their particular Prism tenancy looks, feels and behaves, it became clear to me that there are several subtly different processes that could be involved that are often lumped together under the heading of customisation or configuration.

Although only subtly different on the surface these activities attract different skill sets and levels in their implementation. 

This post is an attempt to clarify some of the language that will increasingly be used as Prism tenancies are rolled-out.

  • Design – the process of establishing the look of your Prism Tenancy.  Defining the fonts, colours, graphics, layouts, and links to give your Prism interface a stunning look that , dependant on your requirements, either fits in with, complements, or even contrasts with the other online styles of your organisation.  This process will inevitably involve web design people from your organisation and/or ourselves.
  • Configure – this is the process we are all used to. Switching on and off capabilities, deciding how many facets to display, which elements can be used to sort results, etc. The normal system manager style tasks that are required from time to time.
  • Customise – the process of changing the way the core functionality of your Prism tenancy is delivered to those that use it.  This would entail the use of APIs that underpin the product, heavily customising the html used in the display, or even modifying some of the underlying code.   Obviously anyone involved in this will need significant skills in html, JavaScript, web based APIs and other similar technologies.
  • Extend – Integrating links to external functionality to add the user experience.  This could be for instance a window enabling users to buy books from Amazon, or links to videos recorded by authors, or enabling a text to speech service that talks the pages to your users, or links to the full contents of books held at Google – the list is endless.  The way that you would implement these extensions would obviously differ but in general you would copy a few lines of html or JavaScript in to the tenancy’s configuration file for say the header or footer element of the pages.    These examples could then be shared between the community of Prism customers, via forums or a development environment such as a wiki.  All others, wishing to use the same extension, would need to be able to do is to paste the code in to their tenancy to test it.  The skill set required here would probably be simple html and  awareness of how to access the tenancy configuration files.

These are general descriptions of what could be involved, not all of which any customer would need to consider – especially in the early stages of moving to a Prism tenancy.  Some may never progress beyond the design and configuration stages.  Others may find over time that their efforts to extend Prism may become popular and well used by others in the Prism community that they share them with.

We are currently in the early stages of the implementation of Prism, so the ability to extend or customise a tenancy is something that is yet to be readily available.  It may be some time before the ability to fully customise becomes an option. As part of the upcoming Prism Days we will be demonstrating the type of extensions that will be possible and discussing how this will evolve.

Hopefully the explanation of some of this terminology will help as Prism, its architecture and the way it is to develop is discussed in coming months.

I would be greatly interested to hear if these descriptions are indeed helpful.