Post written by: Seth Anderson, EaaSI Program Manager
New EaaSI Website

As you may have noticed – EaaSI now has an extensible program subsite within the redesigned SPN website. As an affiliated program of SPN, EaaSI (thanks to support from the Sloan and Mellon Foundations) provided financial support for the SPN web redesign and migration to a new hosting infrastructure. We look forward to building out the EaaSI site with program documentation, templates, presentations and monthly blog posts from members of the EaaSI team. For now, you can find our program overview, description of key deliverables and staff bios on our About page. Please email our Community Outreach & Communications Coordinator, Jessica Meyerson, at jessica[at]educopia[dot]org if you have any questions or find any mistakes. 

EaaSI Node Partners Kickoff Meeting – November 13-14, 2018

The EaaSI project team welcomed representatives from our five node partners to the Yale campus for a two day deep dive into all things EaaSI. Leads from each of our participating Node Hosts were in attendance including Don Brower (Notre Dame University), Chip German (University of Virginia), Eric Kaltman (Carnegie Mellon University), David Minor (UC-San Diego), and Michael Olson (Stanford University). EaaSI project team members Seth Anderson, Ethan Gates, and Jessica Meyerson provided a demo of the current state of the system, an overview of the EaaSI beta rollout process (Jan-Mar 2019), and details on upcoming development targets.

(left to right): Chip German (UVa), Eric Kaltman (CMU), Don Brower (Notre Dame) prioritizing features
David Minor (UC-San Diego) presenting a lightning talk on software description in the UC-San Diego repository

Attendees presented reports on individual software or digital collection items from their institution that they expect to use with EaaSI. The meeting included several brainstorming exercises focused on the identification of future software features, documentation, and implementation of local services using the emulation framework. You can download our In-Person Meeting Exercises on the EaaSI Resources page.

EaaSI Metadata Model

The EaaSI metadata model enters its fourth iteration as we continue to refine our vision for description of software and computing environments within the EaaSI system and network. We are now incorporating details of emulated hardware configurations and the relationships between these emulated components and software. The model, once complete, will serve as the basis for database design and deployment supporting functionality for description, discovery, administration, and automation in future releases of the EaaSI system.

A copy of the model and related specification documentation will be posted to the site upon completion in February.

Early version of the Entity Relationship Diagram for the EaaSI database. Takeaway: describing software environments means describing the individual components of an environment and then creating explicit relationships between those environments through many, many join tables
EaaSI Participation Agreement

December marked the end of our first round of collaboration with the Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic. Throughout the Fall semester, law student Eunnie Lee drafted a participation agreement for EaaSI addressing expectations and restrictions regarding EaaSI nodes’ use of the system and contributions to the network. The agreement draft is now under review by select stakeholders at partner nodes and legal experts. Work on the agreement will continue during the upcoming semester with a new student at the Cyberlaw Clinic, under the supervision of Managing Director Christopher Bavitz.

Wikidata Software and File Format Reporting

Throughout 2018, Semantic Architect Kat Thornton has monitored and reported on the addition of software and file format records in the Wikidata knowledge base. At the start of the year, Wikidata contained 64,925 software items and 2,834 file format items. As of January 2, there are now 82,759 software items and 3,483 file format items, a net change of 17,834 and 649 items respectively. This year, Kat will also monitor and report on the quality of software and file format metadata in the knowledge base using shape expressions.

Beta Rollout

The three-month testing and rollout of the EaaSI beta release kicked off this month. Developers at OpenSLX completed active development and instigated a “code freeze” in December. They are now focused on consolidation and testing of new features developed in the last six months, including support for multi-tenancy systems, OAuth 2 user authentication, and retrieval of emulated environments within the EaaSI network.

The EaaSI team is scheduled to test the beta release in February. Team members will work through 15-20 test cases (currently being drafted), report bugs, and provide general feedback on features and design of the system.

We are also working closely with technical staff at each node to prepare for the deployment of the beta release. Lead developer Klaus Rechert is in contact with sys admin and IT support staff at each partner node to lay the groundwork for the rollout process. Calls with technical support staff are an opportunity to identify any unique rollout requirements for each node and plan solutions prior to the March 5 release of the beta.

Software Preservation Analyst Ethan Gates is busy preparing procedures and guidelines for description and configuration of software environments for the EaaSI network. Students will begin working on these environments in the coming month and we hope to have a few hundred environments ready when the network is launched in March.