News

Longtime client; brand new feature

If you are currently using Archivematica version 1.12.x you will already be familiar with the new processing configuration selector button.  If you haven’t upgraded yet, read on to learn about this cool new feature, the process that brought it to fruition, and the client that made it happen.

In earlier versions of Archivematica, when a user wanted to configure job decision points during transfer and ingest (something that many users do, typically when processing different types of content), the user had to download a processingMCP.xml file and add it to their transfer directory.  It’s an example of where the task could be accomplished in the software, but it wasn’t very user-friendly and it took several manual steps.

In early 2020, Simon Fraser University Archives (SFU) proposed a design solution that would allow users to choose a processing configuration option from a drop-down list in the Transfer tab of the Archivematica dashboard.  As an open-source software company, Artefactual has worked using the bounty model of software development for some time. Although we have become more selective and strategic about choosing projects that not only improve our software but also offer the greatest value to the largest number of clients, this feature sounded like a good fit.  However, to ensure that this enhancement idea met our criteria for work, Artefactual proposed a short analysis and design project to SFU so that we could better define the risks and opportunities a feature like this presented.  

Not every client is willing or able to spend money to discuss and really tease out a request for development.  But SFU has consistently partnered with Artefactual to find solutions that work for them as well as for the broader archival and digital preservation community.  SFU saw the value – and invested in – a short project to identify and define software development and to define new features that would be useful and sustainable over the life of the software. 

We appreciate SFU’s willingness to allow Artefactual time to explore the problem so that we were able to land on a solution that benefits not only them but the community as a whole,” says Kelly Stewart, Artefactual’s Chief Archivist.

Wireframe showing the processing configuration dropdown

One of several wireframes used during meetings to determine the UI of the new processing config option

 

 

 

 

 

 

The analysis project resulted in four features, one of which is the processing configuration selector, all of which are better products as a result of the time invested in properly scoping them out.  You can watch the processing configuration selector in action on our YouTube channel.

“I really like this feature, it will be a big time-saver,” says Richard Dancy, a long-time SFU archivist. “Participating in these development projects, having the opportunity to collaborate with the analysts and developers, is something I really appreciate about Archivematica and AtoM. It is pretty exciting and satisfying when you get a chance to be involved and see an idea actually take shape. A lot of the time we don’t really know if something is actually do-able or not. The back-and-forth with the Artefactual group is always fun and illuminating, and I get a better understanding of the tools I’m using.”

Dancy adds, “I think this particular feature is a good example of something that maybe looks like a small thing, and even is a small thing, but makes a big difference in our daily work and doesn’t cost a ton to sponsor. The more things we can do like that, the better.”

SFU is a comprehensive Canadian university with three campuses, 37,000 students and 6,500 faculty and staff.  The Archives supports teaching, research, and university administration by acquiring, protecting and enabling access to university records and private records of historic value. The department provides records management, archival, and Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy compliance services and they have been working with Artefactual since before there was an AtoM.  SFU Archives uses both Archivematica and AtoM in production; their public site can be searched here.

Based in Canada, Artefactual contributes openly to and values the international community of digital preservation practice.  Our mission is to ensure that the evidence of the past can be cared for in the present and trusted in the future. To inquire about Artefactual’s products and services, please contact us at info@artefactual.com