Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More on Microsoft's Zentity repository platform

Rob Knies, Facilitating Semantic Research, Microsoft Research, May 20, 2009.  Excerpt:

On May 20, as part of the Open Repositories Conference being held May 18-21 at Atlanta’s Georgia Institute of Technology, Tony Hey, corporate vice president of Microsoft Research’s External Research group, will be announcing the public availability of downloads of a pair of tools, Zentity and the second version of the Article Authoring Add-in for Word 2007, part of the scholarly-communication tools life cycle announced during Faculty Summit 2008. The downloads are the latest in a regular drumbeat of releases from the Scholarly Communications team within Hey’s group....

In the days leading to the opening of the conference, for which Microsoft Research is a leading sponsor, Lee Dirks, director of the Education and Scholarly Communication team, took a few minutes to discuss his team’s efforts, along with Alex Wade, director of Scholarly Communication, and Savas Parastatidis, now an architect for Live Search after serving as the primary architect for the Zentity project:

Q: What does the Scholarly Communication team do, and what is your vision for this work?

Dirks: ...At Microsoft Research, we have looked at that entire life cycle [of academic research], mapped the multitude of tools, resources, and technologies across Microsoft, and saw that we could —and should— be adding more value into the process. Indeed, most academic institutions around the globe have licensed Microsoft software...but they aren’t actively utilizing it as part of this life cycle....

In this effort, I want to stress that all of the software, accelerators, and add-ins that we are making available are free to demonstrate the value of the Microsoft platform and the various products the institutions have already licensed.

Q: What will Tony be announcing today?

Wade: We are announcing version 1.0 of Zentity, our research-output repository platform, and version 2.0 of the Article Authoring Add-in for Word 2007.

Zentity, previously called Research-Output Repository Platform and code-named Famulus, is a platform that allows institutions to store all of their digital scholarship: papers, lecture, presentations, videos —anything that might be collected by the university as part of the digital output of their researchers and scholars....

With regard to the Article Authoring Add-in for Word 2007, we’ve added a lot of great functionality over version 1.0, which was released last summer. You now can upload directly into a repository—ours or those of others—via the SWORD [Simple Web Operation for Repository Deposit] protocol. We also have added support for authoring Object Reuse and Exchange [ORE] resource maps within the Word environment. We’ve also added the ability to perform literature searches and to import the bibliographic information in Word with one click, which makes it very simple to quickly add citations into a paper.

Q: You’re planning to release these as open source?

Dirks: Yes. First and foremost, we’re releasing the binaries, but soon thereafter, we’ll release both of these as open source. Once they are available, our big push over the next 12 to 18 months will be to build a worldwide community around these assets....

Q: What have you found most exciting about working on these projects?

Dirks: ...Overall, we are moving in the right direction regarding how Microsoft engages with the open-source community. Tony Hey’s entire group is on the leading edge in making our case that we can engage in a positive dialogue, that all sides can benefit, and that we can all learn something in that process. It is critical when Microsoft initiates any engagement with academics that we listen and understand. We need to observe and adapt. I can tell you that, for many academics we work with, we represent a new Microsoft.