Towards Easing the Configuration and New Team Member Accommodation for Open Source Software Based Portals

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Authors
Fu, Linyun
West, Patrick
Zednik, Stephan
Fox, Peter
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2013-12-09
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Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning Vocabularies
Research Projects
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Abstract
For simple portals such as vocabulary based services, which contain small amounts of data and require only hyper-textual representation, it is often an overkill to adopt the whole software stack of database, middleware and front end, or to use a general Web development framework as the starting point of development. Directly combining open source software is a much more favorable approach. However, our experience with the Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning Vocabulary (CMSPV) service portal shows that there are still issues such as system configuration and accommodating a new team member that need to be handled carefully. In this contribution, we share our experience in the context of the CMSPV portal, and focus on the tools and mechanisms we've developed to ease the configuration job and the incorporation process of new project members. We discuss the configuration issues that arise when we don't have complete control over how the software in use is configured and need to follow existing configuration styles that may not be well documented, especially when multiple pieces of such software need to work together as a combined system. As for the CMSPV portal, it is built on two pieces of open source software that are still under rapid development: a Fuseki data server and Epimorphics Linked Data API (ELDA) front end. Both lack mature documentation and tutorials. We developed comparison and labeling tools to ease the problem of system configuration. Another problem that slowed down the project is that project members came and went during the development process, so new members needed to start with a partially configured system and incomplete documentation left by old members. We developed documentation/tutorial maintenance mechanisms based on our comparison and labeling tools to make it easier for the new members to be incorporated into the project. These tools and mechanisms also provided benefit to other projects that reused the software components from the CMSPV system.
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