OPDS in government, by publishers, etc.

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Joe Wicentowski

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Mar 21, 2013, 3:16:01 PM3/21/13
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Hi all,

I work at the Office of the Historian in the U.S. Department of State.
We research and publish a venerable documentary history series,
_Foreign Relations of the United States_ -- about 500 books published
over the last 150 years, with ~10 new books each year, all in the
public domain. As part of the Digital Government Strategy
(http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/egov/digital-government/digital-government.html),
which is promoting the use of APIs for distributing government data,
we are working on creating an OPDS feed containing the full catalog of
our series, with links to the various online editions of each book
(epub, mobi, web, etc.). I've been working through the OPDS 1.1 spec,
testing my feeds with a few OPDS-capable apps, and I'm pleased with
the results so far. Thanks to the OPDS community for creating this
wonderful spec.

I have a few questions; thanks in if anyone can offer insight on any of them:

1. Do you know of any other cases of government agencies (U.S. or not)
that are publishing OPDS feeds?

2. Is it typical for individual publishers to release OPDS feeds that
consumers use, or is it more typical that OPDS feeds are aggregated by
larger catalogs like FeedBooks?

3. Are you or any developer/organization you know of interested in
including our OPDS feed in your application or catalog?

4. Is 1.1 expected to remain current for the coming 4-6 months, or is
a new version expected to be released?

Thanks very much,
Joe

--
Joseph C. Wicentowski, Ph.D.
Historian
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Public Affairs
Office of the Historian
Division of Declassification and Publishing
2401 E Street, NW, Room L409
Washington, DC 20522
Tel: (202) 663-1127
Fax: (202) 663-1289
Email: wicent...@state.gov
Web: http://history.state.gov
Twitter: @HistoryAtState

Tom Morris

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Mar 21, 2013, 5:21:30 PM3/21/13
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On Thu, Mar 21, 2013 at 3:16 PM, Joe Wicentowski <joe...@gmail.com> wrote:
Hi all,

I work at the Office of the Historian in the U.S. Department of State.
 We research and publish a venerable documentary history series,
_Foreign Relations of the United States_ -- about 500 books published
over the last 150 years, with ~10 new books each year, all in the
public domain.  As part of the Digital Government Strategy
(http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/egov/digital-government/digital-government.html),
which is promoting the use of APIs for distributing government data,
we are working on creating an OPDS feed containing the full catalog of
our series, with links to the various online editions of each book
(epub, mobi, web, etc.). 

It'd be great to get the online versions linked to the OpenLibrary catalog entries too
They have a large number of ebooks available already, so it's a place that people look for them.

OpenLibrary also has an OPDS implementation (link at the button of the page) that you could cross check your implementation against (although, to be honest, I haven't looked at their implementation at all, so I don't know how good it is).

Tom

Hadrien Gardeur

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Mar 21, 2013, 8:20:25 PM3/21/13
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Hello Joe,


I work at the Office of the Historian in the U.S. Department of State.
 We research and publish a venerable documentary history series,
_Foreign Relations of the United States_ -- about 500 books published
over the last 150 years, with ~10 new books each year, all in the
public domain.  As part of the Digital Government Strategy
(http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/egov/digital-government/digital-government.html),
which is promoting the use of APIs for distributing government data,
we are working on creating an OPDS feed containing the full catalog of
our series, with links to the various online editions of each book
(epub, mobi, web, etc.).  I've been working through the OPDS 1.1 spec,
testing my feeds with a few OPDS-capable apps, and I'm pleased with
the results so far.  Thanks to the OPDS community for creating this
wonderful spec.

Glad that you found the spec helpful !
Have you also tested your feeds in: http://opds-validator.appspot.com/ ?
 

1. Do you know of any other cases of government agencies (U.S. or not)
that are publishing OPDS feeds?

I've heard about something like that in Taiwan.

 
2. Is it typical for individual publishers to release OPDS feeds that
consumers use, or is it more typical that OPDS feeds are aggregated by
larger catalogs like FeedBooks?

There are no rules. Some people generate an OPDS catalog for themselves, there's no reason why a publisher with 500+ publications couldn't do the same.
 

3. Are you or any developer/organization you know of interested in
including our OPDS feed in your application or catalog?

Make sure that you reach out to some of the popular reading applications.
FBReader, Moon+ Reader and Megareader usually include a fairly long list of OPDS catalogs.

You might also want to use the opds:// scheme that's supported by some of these readers to provide a link directly on your website.
 

4. Is 1.1 expected to remain current for the coming 4-6 months, or is
a new version expected to be released?

1.2 will be a minor release, I've pushed back the work on it to focus on the ecosystem instead.
Everything is very stable at this point, if you don't do lending or subscriptions, nothing will change for your feeds in 1.2.

Hadrien

Joe Wicentowski

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Mar 22, 2013, 11:55:38 AM3/22/13
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Hi Tom,

> It'd be great to get the online versions linked to the OpenLibrary catalog
> entries too
> e,g,
> http://openlibrary.org/books/OL22936581M/Foreign_relations_of_the_United_States
> They have a large number of ebooks available already, so it's a place that
> people look for them.

Thanks for your suggestion add our online editions to the OpenLibrary
catalog. I'll definitely share this with my colleagues.

> OpenLibrary also has an OPDS implementation (link at the button of the page)
> that you could cross check your implementation against (although, to be
> honest, I haven't looked at their implementation at all, so I don't know how
> good it is).

I couldn't track down the link you mentioned, but googling for
"OpenLibrary OPDS" I did find this article:

http://raj.blog.archive.org/2011/03/03/open-library-opds/

From what I can tell from this article, OpenLibrary provides OPDS
*entries* for each book (e.g., the entry for
http://openlibrary.org/books/OL13524006M is
http://openlibrary.org/books/OL13524006M.opds), but interestingly, I
cannot find a *catalog* for openlibrary. Lots of useful info in these
entries, though.

Thanks again,
Joe

Joe Wicentowski

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Mar 22, 2013, 12:08:30 PM3/22/13
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Hi Hadrien,

> Glad that you found the spec helpful !
> Have you also tested your feeds in: http://opds-validator.appspot.com/ ?

Thanks for your reply - and for suggesting this service. No, I hadn't
tested it against that, but I did just now and see some warnings.
This will be extremely helpful!

>> 1. Do you know of any other cases of government agencies (U.S. or not)
>> that are publishing OPDS feeds?
>
> I've heard about something like that in Taiwan.

Great, I'd be interested to know of any examples that people have.
Googling for OPDS and Taiwan, one link that comes up is the Chinese
Buddhist Text Association (CBETA)
(http://www.cbeta.org/epub_opds.php).

>> 2. Is it typical for individual publishers to release OPDS feeds that
>> consumers use, or is it more typical that OPDS feeds are aggregated by
>> larger catalogs like FeedBooks?
>
> There are no rules. Some people generate an OPDS catalog for themselves,
> there's no reason why a publisher with 500+ publications couldn't do the
> same.

Got it.

>> 3. Are you or any developer/organization you know of interested in
>> including our OPDS feed in your application or catalog?
>
> Make sure that you reach out to some of the popular reading applications.
> FBReader, Moon+ Reader and Megareader usually include a fairly long list of
> OPDS catalogs.
>
> You might also want to use the opds:// scheme that's supported by some of
> these readers to provide a link directly on your website.

These are both great suggestions, thank you. As easy as it is to
enter an OPDS address into an app manually, how much nicer would it be
to have a opds:// URL open directly in an app, or to have the catalog
prepopulated in major apps.

>> 4. Is 1.1 expected to remain current for the coming 4-6 months, or is
>> a new version expected to be released?
>
> 1.2 will be a minor release, I've pushed back the work on it to focus on the
> ecosystem instead.
> Everything is very stable at this point, if you don't do lending or
> subscriptions, nothing will change for your feeds in 1.2.

Excellent, great to know.

Thanks again,
Joe
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