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Re: nexus

 Thanks for your comments on the crystallographic neXus project. I'm glad
> that we are now able to begin working on this. I am copying this response to
> Lachlan, with a reminder that he can monitor our discussions at
> http://www.iucr.org/iucr-top/lists/epc-l/
>
> > The basic idea is excellent. The aim is to distribute a number of data
> > available on the Web on a CD-ROM for those who have a poor or no access
> > at all to the web.
>
> Yes. However, it is also useful for people who have quite a good connection
> to the Web, because even "quite good" can mean long and frustrating download
> sessions if one is surveying many pages, or acquiring large software packages.
>
> > Each time Lachlan make a reference he gives two links:
> >  - the true URL
> >  - the copy of the contents of this URL on the CD-ROM. Thus, whenever
> > possible, the user may report to the original information. This is a
> > very clever idea.
>
> For the constituency of web-connected users, it means that you can check the
> "live" URL to see whether a more recent version of the software exists than
> on the CD-ROM; if not, the CD-ROM version can be installed at once.

As we say in french: qui peut le plus peut le moins. In other words I fully
agree. Lachlan idea of giving BOTH the true URL and a copy of its contents at a
given date is excellent and may be useful to everybody. One may also be
delighted to be able to browse the CD from home without having a web 
connection.

> It is in some sense complementary to the SinCris and CWW lists of pointers
> to other crystallographic sites. The major difference is that the neXus
> collection mirrors the contents of the sites listed (in whole or in part).
>
> > Obviously the contents is oriented towards Lachlan's primary interests. There
> > are many references to mineralogy, powder diffraction and databases
> > related to these subjects. The same is true for the software. No reference
> > at all (or very few) to biocrystallography for instance.
>
> Lachlan's primary role has been to collect and organise the information on
> the CD-ROM, and to burn the many trial copies that he has produced. It's
> entirely legitimate that the contents until now have reflected his own
> interests and areas of expertise. It might make sense to build on his work
> by recruiting other volunteers to manage collections in other areas of the
> subject. Lachlan could be the mineralogy/powder editor and overall technical
> coordinator; there would in time be other editors too. I think that at this
> stage we can concentrate on getting the project fully operational within
> Lachlan's selected topic areas; but he should give some thought to the
> overall organisation to allow additional topics to be added in a modular
> fashion.

I fully agree. See below my suggestion.

> > The list of institutions has the same limitation: IUCr references are all
> > included as well as a very limited number of crystallographic institutions.
> > I do not know why other are not mentioned. For instance a reference is made
> > towards the Synchrotron facility in Taiwan but not to the other ones.
>
> In previous correspondence, Howard has raised doubts about the suitability
> of including mirrors of individual institutions (such as the Cuban
> laboratories). The problem is really one of selection (or, alternatively, of
> finding enough filespace for an arbitrarily large collection of such
> institutions). We will need to discuss in some detail the balance of
> providing pointers to other external URLs (this is already well covered
> within SinCris and CWW) and mirroring the contents of other sites, be they
> national, regional or in some sense private pages.

I believe the CD-ROM could make refrences to
- international institutions
- national institutions such as National Crystallographic Associations, National
laboratories such as synchrotrons... but not to individual laboratories.

> > References are also made to some personal pages but I do not understand
> > how the selection has been made.
>
> I would guess that the selection has been on the basis of Lachlan's
> knowledge and editorial judgement. I see nothing wrong in that, though we
> might consider a broader based editorial board in due course. We might also
> expect that if the project really took off, individuals would be canvassing
> for the inclusion of their own pages, so some sort of objective criteria for
> inclusion should be drawn up.

In some ways it is a duplicate of WDC.

> > Thus I will conclude that Nexus is, for the moment, a good project, but
> > limited to some fields of crystallography and with a selection of pointers
> > based on the personal interests of his author.
>
> Let me outline the way in which I see the neXus project fitting into the
> IUCr information web. Logically, we should have a directory tree mounted as
> nexus-top which peers with iucr-top, cww-top and sincris-top. It will hold
> the neXus pages that index other resources, and also the mirrors of the
> individual software collections that have been acquired. The IUCr, CWW and
> SinCris pages will be accessed by hyperlinks into the iucr-top etc
> hierarchies. Hence the directory structure on my web server and its mirrors
> will be:
>
>            __________________________________________
>            |             |            |             |
>         iucr-top      cww-top    sincris-top    nexus-top
>
> and it will be identical on the CD-ROM, but perhaps with an addition
> higher-level introductory html page:
>
>                            nexus.html
>            ____________________|_____________________
>            |             |            |             |
>         iucr-top      cww-top    sincris-top    nexus-top
>
> In practical terms, Lachlan would maintain the nexus-top pages at Daresbury,
> and I would mirror them on a daily basis at Chester (in the same way that
> CWW is maintained in Geneva and SinCris in Paris). Lachlan would download
> iucr-top, cww-top and sincris-top whenever he needs to press an up-to-date
> disk. The mirror sites would download everything from Chester.
>
> Do we all agree on this approach?

I fully agree with this approach which is in agreement with my suggestion for
the web services as explained to the Executive Committee in Seattle.

I am willing to leave all the mineralogical part to Lachlan and as soon as this
is established I will pass to him the responsibility for mineralogy and powder
information.

Yves

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