Learning from the pastStandards, hardware, software and migration Gareth Knight firstname.lastname@example.org
Recap - Why standards are a good thing • Well documented, • Best practice, • Easier to manage, • Preservation - Increased longevity of electronic resources • Financial - I don’t get paid if I don’t support standards! But…
Theme of the presentation • Are you 100% certain that you comply with all relevant standards? • Be honest! • Things change • Software, hardware and working practices may change – HTML, CSS, plug-ins, etc. • What are the implications? • Long and short-term problems if the standard is not correctly implemented – HTML, CSS, plug-ins, etc. • I’m running out of money. How can these problems be fixed cheaply? • Remedial actions to solve the problems
Browser Standards • The problem • WYSIWYG applications producing questionable code. • How will this affect my user? • Broken web pages or badly formed HTML • Foreign or illegal characters (e.g. ampersands) • Mixing characters from other encoders. • Broken plug-ins • Difficult to migrate to XHTML • How will these issues affect the user? • Badly formed HTML (e.g. forms, tables, etc.) • Missing text Microsoft WindowsTM! Microsoft Windows !
Browser Standards • How can I test the site? • W3C validation, Lynx, Mozilla, Netscape, Opera, etc. • How easy are these to fix? • It varies. A search & replace command, which can be found in most development environments, to replace “garbage” characters.
Accessibility Standards • How can I test the site? • Focus groups, ask NOF support for comments. • How easy are these to fix? • Bobbie performs machine-testing. • WAI guidelines allow qualitative testing. • Also read Jakob Nielson’s book on designing web usability
Migrating to new standards,but which one? "The good thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from“ (A. Tanenbaum) Quicktime 1.0 1992 MPEG-1 1992 Real Media 1995 MPEG-2 1996 RealVideo 1997 MPEG-4 1999 Quicktime 5.0 1999 Active Streaming Format 1999 DIVX 5.0 2002 The number of A/V “de-facto” standard formats has exploded in the past five years, and this does not cover the dozens of audio and video codec combinations!
Measuring longevity of standard • Who developed it? • Microsoft, Motion Picture Expert Group, etc. • Has it received mainstream support? • Can your hardware save data in that format? • What organisations are using it? • Is it used in industry • Is it widely accepted by the professional and amateur community? • Technology watch – check web sites, developer forums and newsgroups. • Has it been submitted as an ISO standard?
Measuring longevity of standard • Are there any legal actions to change the standard? • Is there a licensing fee? • What tools are available to create and manipulate the format • Open source vs. proprietary • PRONOM – National Archive database of 250 software products, 550 file formats and 100 manufacturers • Can I execute these tools on my computer? • Java, Windows-only, Mac-only
Choosing a suitable migration path • What are the main features? • Small file size, streaming support • Will it support your specialist needs? • Subtitles, DRM, Internet delivery, etc. • Does it provide sufficient quality • Lossless vs. lossy compression. • Will it impose any restrictions on use? • Can it actually be played by your target audience? • Is the standard stable or does it change frequently? • How will this affect your desire to use the format?
Best Practice solutions In addition to format standards, you need to consider best practice solutions to content delivery: • Frame size • Frame rate • Bit-depth • Audio quality
Migration Problems • Have you encountered any problems when accessing these files in other applications? • Quirks (text not displaying, desynchronised audio/video, upside-down video playback). • Version incompatibilities • Migrating to other formats • Are there any other problems when exporting to other formats? E.g. lossless-to-lossless conversion, in-editable • Document quirks & incompatibilities for later.
Updating hardware • Hardware has changed dramatically in the last 3 years • Memory – DDR vs. SD-RAM • CPU – pin compatibility • Graphics cards – AGP 2x, 4x, 8x • Operating system – will Windows NT4/98 run on newer hardware? • Do you upgrade existing hardware or replace it with new equipment?
Updating software • Operating system lifecycle
Updating software • Software changes on a frequent basis • Four service packs available for Windows 2000. • Microsoft issues 3 patches per week on average. • Legal action force changes to plugin handling. • In addition, there is an estimated 20 un-patched vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer alone (PivX Solutions). • Do you upgrade to a later operating system or continue to use an operating system & software with known security flaws?
Useful URLs QA Focus - http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/qa-focus/ W3C - http://www.w3.org WAI - http://www.w3.org/WAI/ MPEG - http://www.chiariglione.org/mpeg/index.htm PRONOM - http://www.pro.gov.uk/about/preservation/digital/pronom/default.htm