Tag Archives: OPAC

Customizing your additional search options: future reference

Update: Nicole recently submitted a patch which will make this entry obsolete. Read on if you’re curious about the jQuery involved, but otherwise look forward to custom further searches in Koha 3.2.

Now that you’re happily (or at the very least, somewhat tediously) customizing your additional search links, your future is bright and worry-free, right? Not quite. I submitted a patch recently to the Koha project which makes a change to the OPAC template, altering the way the additional searches are displayed. Instead of showing all the search links by default, in Koha 3.2 the links will be hidden and displayed in a drop-down menu.

Click "More searches" to display a menu

Click "More searches" to display a menu

Why the change? To conserve screen real estate. Some libraries were finding that with lots of data in the holdings table, and lots of options in the menu which includes the additional search links, content was overlapping and becoming unreadable. Here’s an example from the Koha bug report:

Click to enlarge screenshot

Click to enlarge screenshot

My change to the template alleviates the problem in two ways: by collapsing the additional search links, and by hiding the left-hand navigation menu on this page. The latter decision may generate some heat. I felt it was a fair trade-off in order to have a non-broken display, but if others disagree I hope I’ll hear about it.

Coping with change

What does this mean for those of us who have customized their search links? Luckily, only a few changes to the code we covered previously:


$(document).ready(function(){
var orig = $("#catalogue_detail_biblio h1").remove("span").html();
var regexp = new RegExp ("<span>", "gi");
var title = orig.replace(regexp,"");
$("#furtherm ul").append("<li class="yuimeuuitem"><a class="yuimenuitemlabel">Paperbackswap.com</a></li>");
});

There’s only a couple of changes to note:

First, the HTML element we’re appending a list item to has changed to “#furtherm ul.” That identifies the list which is being used to construct the menu.

Second, there are some additional classes being added along with our list item. The classes are there so that the additional list item is styled properly along with the other menu items. The new menu is being created using YUI’s Menu component.

If you’re running the most recent development version of Koha, you can try the revised JavaScript. Here’s the result:

Our custom link has been added to the menu

Our custom link has been added to the menu

If you’re not running the most recent development version, bookmark this page for later reference. When your Koha installation gets updated, you’ll need to revise your script!

Customizing your additional search options

Note: This article applies to Koha 3.x installations. Nicole recently submitted a patch which add custom further searches to Koha 3.2.

On every record’s detail page there is list of links in the right-hand sidebar for searching for that title on a few other sites: Worldcat, Google Scholar, and Bookfinder. search-for-this-title-in These were chosen as reasonably generic choices for a wide audience. The trouble is, generic doesn’t work for everyone: For many libraries these links aren’t appropriate. They’d like to be able to take out one or more of them and/or add their own. Unfortunately these links are hard-coded in the template. Until someone contributes the time or money to develop a solution, we have to resort to JavaScript trickery to accomplish it.

JavaScript Trickery

jQuery to the rescue. If we use FireBug to inspect the page we can see that the “box” the links are in has a unique ID. That’s perfect as a place to tell jQuery to start looking.

Click for full screenshot

Click for full screenshot

Let’s start by adding a custom link to this menu. We start our JavaScript by targeting the #further div. Since we want to add an item to the list contained within the #further div, we’ll add that to the selector:

$(document).ready(function(){
$("#further ul")...
});

And since we want to append some additional HTML, we’ll use append():

$(document).ready(function(){
$("#further ul").append("<li><a href="http://www.paperbackswap.com">Paperbackswap.com</a></li>");
});

Okay, drop that into the opacuserjs system preference and refresh your OPAC page to see how it worked:

Updated list of links

Updated list of links

Great! We’re done, right? Well… The trouble is, the link we added doesn’t include any means to pass the title to the search system on the other site. How are we supposed to do that? Luckily, many sites are very open in the way they perform search requests. You just have to do a little digging. Let’s go to Paperbackswap.com and do a search to see how they handle it. Since I know we’re going to pass a title to their search system, I’m going to look for a title-specific search. I found one on their advanced search page. Plug in a title and look at the resulting URL:

http://www.paperbackswap.com/book/browser.php?all_k=&not_k=&or_k[]=&or_k[]=&phrase_k1=cryptonomicon&all_ti=&not_ti=&or_ti[]=&or_ti[]=&phrase_ti1=&a=&i=&bd=&p=&g=0&b[]=Paperback&b[]=Audio+Cassette&b[]=Hardcover&b[]=Audio+CD&pd=&pd_type=e&r=n&s_type=a&l=10&sby=&oby=ASC

What a mess! But underneath all that junk there’s one bit of real functionality there:

http://www.paperbackswap.com/book/browser.php?all_k=&not_k=&or_k[]=&or_k[]=&phrase_k1=cryptonomicon&all_ti=&not_ti=&or_ti[]=&or_ti[]=&phrase_ti1=&a=&i=&bd=&p=&g=0&b[]=Paperback&b[]=Audio+Cassette&b[]=Hardcover&b[]=Audio+CD&pd=&pd_type=e&r=n&s_type=a&l=10&sby=&oby=ASC

It looks to me like phrase_k1=cryptonomicon is the meat of the search, and everything else is defaults. Let’s try the link this way and see if we get good results:

http://www.paperbackswap.com/book/browser.php?phrase_k1=cryptonomicon

Seems to work just as expected. Now we know that we can use a link like this to pass our own search term to the site:

http://www.paperbackswap.com/book/browser.php?phrase_k1=<title>

Using JavaScript to find the title

Click to enlarge screenshot

Click to enlarge screenshot

We’re building the custom search link with JavaScript, so we’ll have to find a way to leverage the same tool to grab the title.  Luckily there is a unique element on the page which contains the title, and we can grab it using jQuery: the <h1> tag. Okay, so there are two <h1>’s on the page, a little bit of a technical foul on Koha’s part. Using FireBug we can ispect the <h1> containing the title and we can see it is contained in a uniquely identified container. We can grab the contents of the heading this way:


$(document).ready(function(){

var title = $("#catalogue_detail_biblio h1").html();

});

Add this to code we wrote to add the custom link along with the search URL we puzzled out:

$(document).ready(function(){

var title = $("#catalogue_detail_biblio h1").html();
$("#further ul").append("<li><a>Paperbackswap.com</a></li>");
});

Notice we’re using + to concatenate the JavaScript variable with the markup that forms the link. Looks good, and the link works!

Our new link passes the correct title to the other site

Our new link passes the correct title to the other site

…Until we come to a record which has a subtitle. For example, The return of the king: being the third part of The lord of the rings

You got markup in my content!

You got markup in my content!

The problems arises because the subtitle is marked up with a <span> inside the
<h1>. When we grabbed the contents of the <h1> tag, we also got the <span>. We’ll have to do some more JavaScript trickery to drop the <span>. Here’s what I came up with, thanks in part to this demo:


$(document).ready(function(){

var orig = $("#catalogue_detail_biblio h1").remove("span").html();
var regexp = new RegExp ("<span>", "gi");
var title = orig.replace(regexp,"");
$("#further ul").append("<li><a>Paperbackswap.com</a></li>");

});

Now we’re getting just the title, and we’re getting the correct link. Success.

Understanding Tags

The Athens County Public Libraries have been using Koha 3 since February 2009. Since that time there has been a feature available to patrons which hasn’t really been used: tags.

The Koha 3 OPAC offers feature where users can “Tag” records with keywords. Tags are generally used as a sort of user-generated subject heading, sometimes called a “folksonomy” because it’s a taxonomy created by regular folks.

Some might be familiar with two sites which were among the first popularize the idea of tags: Flickr.com and Del.icio.us. We used Flickr recently to share pictures of the Wells library reconstruction following a fire in June 2008.

Flickr tags list

Flickr tags list

If you browse around Flickr you’ll find that on each photo page there is a list of keywords found in the right column, labeled “Tags.” Take a look at one example, a picture of the New York Public library. The photo has been tagged with “New York City,” “Spring Break,” “vacation,” “Manhattan,” “New York Public Library,” and “architecture.” If you click on one of those tags,  you’ll see all the other photos by that user which were tagged with the same keyword. Then you can click the link to “See all public content tagged with newyorkcity

The nice thing about tagging is you don’t have to pick from a preselected set of categories. As you can see from the above example, you can categorize things not just by what they are in and of themselves, but what they are to you. The picture must have been taken during Spring Break vacation, and the user tagged it that way so that he could find all those vacation pictures at once.

Del.icio.us is a “social bookmarking” site. After creating a free account you can bookmark sites for later use, and add tags to help categorize them. Take a look at one of the other common features of systems which allow tagging: the tag cloud.

A tag cloud is both a menu and a visual representation of all the tags (or at least the most popular tags) in a system. In the Delicious example, “blog” and “design” are the largest terms in the list because they’re the most popular (with 6,769,771and 9,195,968 entries each, respectively!).

Koha 3 has this same functionality. If a non-logged-in user pulls up the details of a record in the OPAC, they’ll see “No tags from this library for this title. Log in to add tags.”

No tags yet!

No tags yet!

How can this be of use to the  patrons? What if you’re a kid looking for graphic novels, but they way you’d think to search for them would be to look for manga. Some of the hits you get will be relevant, but not everything. That’s because a lot of what you’re looking for is classified as Comic books, strips, etc. –Japan. If you’re a manga fan, you might look for your favorite titles and tag them so that you’ll be able to find them easily next time.

If you log in to the OPAC and add some tags, at first the only person who will see them is you. We have tag moderation enabled in Koha. A staff member can periodically check the list of tags and approve or reject them. If a patron-created tag is approved, it will show up in Koha’s tag cloud. If a tag is rejected, it won’t disappear from that patron’s personal set of tags, it simply won’t show up in the public list.

Tags in the OPAC have have critical, practical difference from tags on Flickr or Delicious: tags aren’t being used to categorize user-generated content. On Flickr, the user has a vested interest in tagging photos as they’re created, because it will help them keep track of their photos in the long run.

In the OPAC, records are created by catalogers, and patrons are accustomed to using standard methods (e.g. keyword searches) for finding them. I’m not sure what would motivate an OPAC user to take an active role in tagging items. The example I used of a book for which the “official” category didn’t match the user’s understood category is the one I would think would be most common.

Is that enough? For tags to be beneficial not just to the individual but to the general audience of OPAC users, the pool of existing tags may have to reach “critical mass.” Users clicking through to the tag cloud are sure to lose interest fast when they see nothing! I’m hoping to enlist the staff here to brainstorm about some useful tags and maybe get the ball rolling.

Have you ever been unable to find something in the library because it was categorized differently than you expected?

YUI Grids and the Koha OPAC

Koha uses the Yahoo! UI Library Grids CSS framework for both the OPAC and the staff client. When we revamped the Koha interface for 3.0 the Grids framework was chosen because it would simply the process of structuring pages while giving us a pretty good selection of possible layouts.

A nice feature of the Grids framework is that you can control the layout of your page with relatively minor changes in markup. Here’s an example for one of the basic layouts:


<div id="doc">
<div id="bd">

<div id="yui-main">
<div class="yui-b">
<p>Main Content</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="yui-b">
<p>Sidebar</p>
</div>

</div>
</div>

You can see that YUI’s Grids framework suffers from the same problem a lot of CSS frameworks  have: the class names are pretty nonsensical if you’re not used to them. I consider this to be par for the course: Better that they be nonsensical than have semantic-sounding names which aren’t appropriate for your actual page structure.

How does the framework make it easy for us to change page layouts? I’ve put together a simple example. This example uses JavaScript to swap out one class name. Try it and see how much can change based on one class name:

yui-layout-demo1

Click to try the demo

The above example shows how the “primary” page structure can be changed. I say primary because you can only choose one of those layouts at a time. If you want to have additional columns or blocks within that layout you can use “grids” and “units” within that main page structure:

Just like with the page structure, there is a set of pre-defined grid structures you can use within your page. The simplest is a set of two equal-width containers:


<div id="doc">
<div id="bd">
<div class="yui-g">

<div class="yui-u first">
<p>First grid unit</p>
</div>

<div class="yui-u">
<p>Second grid unit</p>
</div>

</div>
</div>
</div>

Just like with the page structure example, a change to the grid’s class name can affect the layout of the units within it. Notice that the grid/unit structure is changing within the page structure we defined before: a single main block with a left-hand sidebar:

Click the try the demo

Click the try the demo

The power of the framework’s grid/unit structure really comes into play when you start nesting grids within grids. Start with a grid which creates two equal columns, and then nest the same two-column grid within each of those columns:

<div id="doc">
<div id="bd">
<div class="yui-g">

<div class="yui-g first">

<div class="yui-u first">
<p>Unit one, sub-unit one</p>
</div>
<div class="yui-u">
<p>Unit one, sub-unit two</p>
</div>
</div>

<div class="yui-g">

<div class="yui-u first">
<p>Unit two, sub-unit one</p>
</div>
<div class="yui-u first">
<p>Unit two, sub-unit two</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>

</div>
</div>

In the markup above, instead of nesting a unit (‘<div class=”yui-u”>’) inside a grid (‘<div class=”yui-g”>’), we’re nesting a grid inside a grid. The containing grid can still be altered to change the layout of the units inside it:

Click to try demo

Click to try demo

The Koha OPAC’s grid structure

How is this implemented in the Koha OPAC? Koha has to take advantage of  the Grids framework’s flexibility when obeying different conditions in the OPAC. Take, for example, the main page of the OPAC. There are four possible layouts the user might see based on state and system preferences:

opac-layout-no-opacnav-logged-out

No OpacNav, not logged in

opac-layout-no-opacnav-logged-in

No OpacNav, logged in

opac-layout-with-opacnav-logged-out

OpacNav, not logged in

opac-layout-with-opacnav-logged-in

OpacNav, logged in


Using some logic in the Koha templates, the layout can be easily altered based on each of those conditions. And because the Grids framework makes it so easy to switch between those different layouts, the template can be much simpler:


<!-- TMPL_IF NAME="OpacNav" -->
<div id="doc3" class="yui-t1">
<!-- TMPL_ELSE -->
<div id="doc3" class="yui-t7">
<!-- /TMPL_IF -->

The template logic can check one condition (whether the OpacNav system preference is populated) and alter the page layout accordingly.

What does this mean to me?

Unless you’re hacking Koha templates you won’t many opportunities to build your own grids. However, there are a couple of instance where you might want to try it, and I’ll talk about that in my next post.

Using custom search links to promote your collection

One of the nice things about using an open, web-based OPAC is it’s really easy to share and reuse links to stuff in your catalog. One great way to promote aspects of your collection is to share a link to a specific search. The Athens County Public Libraries do this with a button on our OPAC. Try it:

See our Newest DVDs

When you click that image you’re taken straight to search results for new DVDs. We didn’t have to create a new collection code or shelving location, we just use built-in options for performing advanced searches. Here are the steps we took to come up with that result set:

  1. Go to the advanced search page.
  2. Check boxes to limit the search to DVD collection codes.
  3. Choose Sort by: Dates -> Acquisition Date: Newest to Oldest.
  4. Search.

The URL of the search results page is the one to copy and re-use.

The “Newest to Oldest” search guarantees that the most recently added items are at the top of the list. True, this isn’t as fine-grained as a search that would let us put in a specific date range (“DVDs acquired in the last 7 days”). And it may not meet every patron’s expectations because it shows returns recently acquired items, meaning if you add a new copy to an existing record it will show up in those results. But for patrons hungry for the newest DVDs it will works very well.

The nice thing about promoting your collection this way is that you don’t have to maintain a hand-picked list. Want to promote the anniversary of the moon landing? How about a link to a search for the subject “manned space flight?” It’s a great quick way to draw your users into the catalog with timely, topical points of interest.

If you like my “new DVDs” image, you’re welcome to use it. It uses a DVD icon found on Wikimedia Commons. Here are a couple additional choices:

new-dvds-bridge

You might want the above image if you’re using the “Bridge” icon set in your OPAC already.

new-dvds-tango

The above image uses a modified version of an icon from the Tango Icon Library. Check out the other Bridge and Tango icons for more choices that might inspire your own material-specific promotions.