[Tdwg-tag] Why should data providers supply search and query services?
roger at tdwg.org
Wed Mar 1 15:43:00 CET 2006
This is a little more of a controversial question that has been suggested:
"Why should data providers supply search and query services?"
* We have many potential data providers (potentially every
collection and institution).
* We have many potential data consumers (potentially every
researcher with a laptop).
* We have a few potential data indexers (GBIF, ORBIS , etc + others
The implementation burden should therefore be:
* Light for the providers - who's role is to conserve data and
* Light for the consumer - who's role is to do research not mess
with data handling.
* Heavy for the indexers - who's core business is making the data
Data providers should give the objects they curate GUIDs. This is
important because it stamps their ownership (and responsibility) on that
piece of data. They then need to run an LSID service that serves the
(meta)data for the objects they own. *There work should stop at this
point!* They should not have to implement search and query services.
They should not anticipate what people will require by way of data
access - that is a separate function.
Data consumers should be able to access indexing services that pool
information from multiple data providers. They should not have to run
federated queries across multiple data providers or have to discover
providers as this is complex and difficult (though they may want to
browse round data providers like they would browse links on web pages).
Once they have retrieved the GUIDs of the objects they are interested in
from the indexers they may want to call the data providers for more
Data indexers should crawl the data exposed by the providers and index
them in thematic ways. e.g. provide geographic or taxon focused
services. This is a complex job as it involves doing clever, innovative
things with data and optimization of searches etc.
Currently we are trying to make every data provider support searching
and querying when the consumers aren't really interested in querying or
searching individual providers - they want to search thematically across
If a big data provider wants to provide search and query then they can
set themselves up as both a provider and an indexer - which is more or
less what everyone is forced to do now - but the functions are separate.
Data providers would have to implement a little more than just an LSID
resolver services for this to work. They would need to provide a single
web service method (URL call) that allowed indexers to get lists of
LSIDs they hold that have had their (meta)data modified since a certain
date but this would be a relatively simple thing compared with providing
arbitrary query facilities.
I believe (though I haven't done a thorough analysis of log data ) that
this is more or less the situation now. Data providers implement
complete DiGIR or BioCASE protocols but are only queried in a limited
way by portal engines. Consumers go directly to portals for their data
discovery. So why implement full search and query at the data provider
nodes of the network (possibly the hardest thing we have to do) when it
may not be used?
This may be controversial. What do you think?
Taxonomic Databases Working Group
roger at tdwg.org
+44 1578 722782
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