Yes, it seems like we’re finally wrapping up some good results for this “much needed” project! Between the summer and fall of 2010, I spent some time learning/testing/understanding/implementing a few customizations for DSpace -using the Manakin or XMLUI framework. A more detailed documentation will be available -soon- on the Customizing DSpace page.
The ultimate goal is to develop a set of themes primarily for non-text collections; which undoubtedly brings a set of challenges especially when dealing with file viewers or players. For instance, the lack of an easy mechanism to access a set of files or “bitstreams” associated with a single record forced us to investigate and implement an alternative method for embedding a flash-based image viewer for the Miami Student Newspaper collection.
The trick was to write an XSLT template that takes the the filename of the primary bitstream in DSpace and calls an external PHP file; which then reads an external folder with JP2 files and displays the images using an open source image viewer -OpenZoom. This technique seems to work well, in fact, it could be customized for embedding DjVu files or maybe e-books from the Open Library.
Last, we also created a video theme, which embeds videos from Vimeo and we’re currently testing it for the new Dalai Lama Video collection. Here we used a method similar to what CONTENTdm does for video collections; we uploaded an image with a filename that matches the vimeo ID file; then create an XSLT template that takes the filename (primary bitstream) and create a custom URL which then calls and embeds the vimeo player in DSpace. For some collections, we also have the transcripts and with this technique, we could easily add the transcript next to the video … but that’s in the next theme upgrade!
Ok, that’s it for now; part of the next steps will be to “formally” document the process of installing the new themes and get them installed in our production instance hosted at OhioLINK.