The Future of EaaSI
October 3, 2020 marked the first time every member of the EaaSI team was gathered in the same place. Team members came to New Haven came from Germany, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin to present the achievements of the program to representatives from our funding agencies, the Sloan Foundation and the Mellon Foundation. We were joined by Yale University Library leadership and other stakeholders from the university. Each team member had the opportunity to highlight their work and it was truly impressive to recount the many accomplishments of the program so far. The day wrapped up with a discussion of the EaaSI program’s future as we look beyond the end of our current grant funding period in June 2020. We’re now developing many exciting ideas to pursue in the next phase of EaaSI and we look forward to sharing our plans soon!
Our colocation also allowed us time to look at the remaining work we have planned for the current phase of work. In particular, we plotted out a timeline for the completion and release of the first version of the new EaaSI interface. Over the next 4-5 months, the team will wrap up initial development of the new system components and engage in multiple rounds of testing and improvement. The beta version of the UI will be made available to our five partner nodes (plus 2 more – announcement coming soon) in February, with an official release scheduled for June 2020. This is just one of many outputs we have planned for the first half of 2020 and we hope to provide more opportunities for members of the community to engage with our work.
On the Road
Half of the project team were road warriors this month; traveling back and forth from conference to conference. First on the schedule was the Maintainers III conference (October 6-9, Washington, DC) where Jessica Meyerson, EaaSI Communications & Outreach Lead, moderated a panel discussion on software preservation and emulation featuring me, Seth Anderson (EaaSI Program Manager), Brandon Butler (Law & Policy Advisor, SPN), Zachary Furste (CLIR postdoctoral fellow in Software Curation, Carnegie Mellon University) and Daina Bouquin (Head Librarian, Harvard/Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics). Given the maintenance focus of the conference, the panel was focused on the intersections of software creation and software curation practices and looked for opportunities to bridge existing gaps.
The second EaaSI-related panel of the month occurred at DLF Forum 2019 (October 14-16, Tampa, FL). Jessica moderated again and the panel again featured me, but also included Natalie Meyers (E-Research Librarian, Notre Dame University) and Christian Dahlhausen (Academic Preservation Trust System Administrator/Developer, University of Virginia). The panel took a look at the first year of the EaaSI program, including insights from the two node participants on the panel. Most interesting were the example environments shared by both, including this incredible emulation of the CD-ROM version of Douglas Adams’ Last Chance to See:
These were just two examples of the incredible work done by our node partners. For more on the experience of being a part of the EaaSI Network, check out Michael Olson’s (Service Manager, Born-Digital / Forensics Lab, Stanford University) reflections on the first year of EaaSI participation on the blog.
We also sent EaaSI PI Euan Cochrane across the globe to present at the CODATA-Helsinki 2019 FAIR RDM Workshop (October 20-21, Helsinki, Finland) with Limor Peer (Associate Director for Research, Yale University). Euan’s presentation focused on recent work by the team at OpenSLX to support multi-file data sets in the Universal Virtual Interactor, automating steps for research reproducibility.
EaaSI and SCOPE
The final trip of October brought Jessica and I to Montreal to attend a two-day meeting at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) exploring how EaaSI may support access to architectural design records through system’s like SCOPE, CCA’s access platform for born-digital collections. The first day of our visit included a workshop with stakeholders from various organizations. The group discussed how research practice may change when accessing materials through emulation and what steps may be necessary to guide users on how to use old software interfaces. We also explored how emulation may fit into other workflows used at libraries, archives, and museums, such as accessioning and processing.
Day two was spent in a working meeting brainstorming where EaaSI and SCOPE may intersect. Participants from EaaSI and CCA looked at the organization’s entire born-digital workflow and considered where services like the UVI may help in pre-processing and how emulation environments may be accessed directly from SCOPE. We hope to implement these ideas in future phases of work and look forward to continuing to work with CCA.
The development team at OpenSLX released the most recent update to the EaaSI beta (v2019.11) this month. The update includes many bug fixes, but most importantly improves audio playback and reduces the latency of the remotely operated emulators. Sound is now more in sync with the presentation of the emulated environment and doesn’t break up due to latency between the front end and remotely-accessed emulators. You can see these improvements in action in the Douglas Adams video above.
This update also implements improved internal error detection and handling so our test users can provide more detailed reports when something goes wrong with their system, a very important tool when you’re still testing capabilities as we are.
There will be a lot more information about the new UI coming in the following months, but keep an eye out for an exclusive opportunity to participate in testing!