Last week marked a significant milestone in the Sword-Arm project with the first demonstration of ADS Easy to a group of invited stakeholders and project partners. It has been our intention from the outset that the views and requirements of those who have a vested interest in the outcomes of Sword-Arm, and particularly the use of ADS Easy, should have an opportunity to feed into its development of the system from the earliest possible juncture in order that we can engage with and more effectively link in with extant workflows within the wider archaeological community. With this in mind the workshop focused on two facets; the morning focused primarily on the wider implications of the system, whilst the afternoon session involved a demonstration of ADS Easy.
The morning session began with a brief overview on the Sword-Arm project, before moving on to consider the ADS Easy system. A principle area of discussion was the costing calculator which allows users to create formal quotations for the cost of digital archiving at the outset of their projects, allowing these charges to be factored into project proposals and funding applications at the outset (for an overview see ‘the dark art of costing for digital preservation’ post). Whilst the calculator allows for much clearer costing of projects, the discussion certainly suggested that more transparency was needed to enforce the value of archiving using ADS Easy. Some noted that the structure of payment envisioned within ADS Easy, based around the project, might not fit into the workflows of larger organisations and suggested a much greater degree of flexibility might be more useful. Surprisingly, our concerns over the levels of project and file level metadata required within the system were seen as less of an issue than expected, with any impact seemingly offset by the ability to download metadata templates and upload them directly into the ADS Easy; an avenue which offers huge potential for in real terms.
Following lunch those present were given a sneak preview of the ADS Easy interface and the workflow of the system. As one would expect with a system only halfway through its development phase there are still a number of technical ‘teething problems’, but those attending were given an impression of how the system will work from registration through to the accession of the project. This provided some useful feedback on the reuse of project metadata, the uploading of files and the creation of file level metadata. It was also possible to demonstrate some of the functionality of the costing tool and the e-license, both of which will lead allow for greater streamlining of the accession process for the depositor and ADS staff.
The general consensus amongst those who attended was positive, suggesting that our conception of what ADS Easy should be and what it should do are not too wide of expectations amongst the wider community. Many thanks to all those who took time out from their busy schedules to attend the workshop; your input is most appreciated and will feed into the development of the system.