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Thoughts on OpenURL Autodiscovery
The gcs-pcs list (no idea what it stands for) has been buzzing with activity since Eric Hellman released his "Latent OpenURLs in HTML" page to the world. It's not that Eric's idea is bad or wrong (the opposite, actually). It's just different.

Dan, Jeremy, Richard, Raymond and I have a paper coming out next month in Ariadne and it mainly comes from ideas that were hashed out on the gcs-pcs list. They are not perfect, and we make that point in the paper. In fact, I had mentioned to Dan that we hadn't brought up the issue of "OpenURL version" at all and that this could be problematic in the future.

Eric's format, although obviously informed by the ideas on the list, seemed to come largely out of the blue and without external input in the design process. Again, this isn't necessarily wrong either... I certainly have been known to run with something without asking others for input and then came back with something that may or may not be what the group as a whole expected.

The big difference is that I'm nobody and Eric's not. If he has people interested in this project, that's great. That's what somebodys are good for. And I also like the fact that he's not willing to wait around for a year to get a spec out (he is shooting for May 1st). I certainly don't want a NISO or ALA schedule.

Here's my problem:
OpenURL 1.0 is too freaking complicated to expect people to use.

It's not that I feel that something must be simplistic in order to be implemented or for people to "get it", it's just that there should be varying levels of entry into our collections. For SRW, there's SRU (still nothing I'm going to teach my mom in a day, but progress from Z39.50, certainly) and that should make it easier to link into our catalogs. If OpenURL seems too difficult for your average web hacker to use, they won't. And we'll be left on the sidelines with our little niche technology. Again.

My proposal is to have both formats supported (with the default being version 0.1) much like RSS currently does. State your version in your link and let the resolver work it out. This way, the people who use it can determine the easier way to implement OpenURLs on their site. Let the "market decide", as it were.

I do not know the membership of gcs-pcs, but Eric is the only link resolver developer that has weighed in. I'm curious how others feel about the 1.0 vs. 0.1 debate.


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