JISC Information Environment Architecture
Baseline Portal Functional Specification
This document provides a baseline functional specification for JISC IE portals.
The intention is to provide a list of the key functionality of
JISC IE portals.
The following list is neither exhaustive nor mandatory, however it is
anticipated that most JISC IE portals will provide most of the functionality
outlined here in some form.
Many portals will provide additional functionality that is not
In particular, note that this document focuses on the 'resource discovery' aspects
of JISC IE portals.
Many portals will offer other, non-resource discovery related, functionality.
Such functionality will typically be incorporated into the portal
using Web services standards (such
as SOAP) and 'portlet' standards (such as WSRP and JSR-168).
Functionality has been separated into the high-level use cases
identified in the
JISC IE Functional Model.
This baseline functional specification is based, in part, on the work of the
Subject Portal Project.
- Provide an optional login facility based on Athens (and possibly other) username/password.
- Provide a registration mechanism for new users.
- Present a view of the user's current landscape (where the 'landscape' is defined to be the set of collections currently of interest to the user).
- Present a default landscape for unauthenticated users.
- Present a browsable list of descriptions of the available collections (where 'available collections' may include nationally funded collections, institutional collections and other collections).
- Provide a searchable database of descriptions of the available collections.
- Provide assistance to the user in the construction of appropriate search requests against the collection-description database.
- Gather alerts about new collections from content providers using RSS and present to the user.
- Gather other news from content providers (optionally restricted to the collections in the user's current landscape) using RSS and present to the user.
- Obtain collection descriptions from the JISC IE Service Registry (where 'collection descriptions' include details of content, coverage, timeliness and cost). Note that portals may obtain additional collection descriptions from other 'service registries' and may maintain local collection descriptions, supplementing those available from the JISC IE Service Registry.
- Allow the user to specify if the information about available collections should be limited by his or her access rights.
- Allow modification to the current user landscape, including modification based on selection from browsable list, search results and alerts.
- Provide mechanism for saving changes to the current user landscape across sessions.
- Provide pre-configured landscape(s) for adoption by the user.
- Allow the user to search across the collections in their current landscape using Z39.50 (Bath Profile) or SRW by searching against content providers' Z39.50 or SRW targets and/or broker services.
- Obtain protocol-level descriptions of content provider and broker Z39.50 and SRW targets from the JISC IE Service Registry.
- Provide assistance to the user in construction of appropriate search requests.
- Provide appropriate authentication information to the content provider's Z39.50 and SRW targets on behalf of the user if required.
- Display the number of search results from each Z39.50 and SRW target.
- Display information about unavailable Z39.50 and SRW targets.
- Provide a browse interface to the collections in the user's current landscape (possibly by linking to the collection's native Web interface).
- Gather metadata from OAI repositories and/or aggregators (using the OAI Metadata Harvesting Protocol) and store it in a database that is available for searching and/or browsing.
- Obtain protocol-level information about OAI repositories from the JISC IE Service Registry.
- Gather alerts from content providers (about new resources in the collections in the user's current landscape) using RSS.
- If necessary, obtain information about the location of discovered resources (e.g. in the case of books, journals, journal issues, journal articles or mirrored Web resources).
- Optionally obtain any annotations pertaining to the discovered resources.
- Display descriptions of the discovered resources (e.g. search results), where the
information about each resource may include item-level Dublin Core metadata, any annotations about the resource and location information.
- Provide mechanism(s) for ordering the lists of discovered resource descriptions based on different criteria (e.g. alphabetically by title, by author, by relevence, etc.).
- Provide mechanism to save some or all resource descriptions in various formats (including via email), for example in the form of bookmarks or reading lists.
- Embed an OpenURL into the resource descriptions if appropriate (i.e for books,
journals, journal issues and journal articles).
- Present link(s) to additional (value-added) service(s) related to the discovered resources (e.g. author searches, same-keyword searches, etc.).
- Provide link(s) to delivery service(s) (including those available locally to
- If appropriate, help the user to request a copy of the discovered resource (e.g. by
providing an inter-library loan form for completion or by initiating
an ILL request on behalf of the user).
It should be noted that some of the functionality in the Detail, UseRecord and
Request use cases may not be provided directly by the portal but by an external OpenURL resolver.
In the general case, it is not anticipated that portals will provide any
'useResource' functionality. In most cases, discovered resources will be
directly to the user's Web browser (or other client) and used within their
There is one major exception to this. Where the portal is an Instructional Management System (IMS, a.k.a. VLE or MLE) and the discovered resource is a learning
package, then it will be appropriate to download the resource to the IMS, unpack it and
'install' and run it within that environment.