This is a status update of the Avanti project to the oss4lib community.
Anyone who has followed this project over the past two years has probably become accustomed to seeing a gradually evolving body of code advancing in fits and starts. Since I've decided a year ago to "throw one away" and begin again from scratch, development could be likened to a slow fermentation of ideas that were not quite coming together into a usable system. The results thus far were recently released as Avanti Version 0.4, the last public release.
Well, all of this is changing now. Since the release of 0.4 last November, development of Avanti has accelerated to a rapid pace, which continues today. Although still crude, Avanti is finally coming together. Already it has gone way beyond version 0.4. Now, it seems to represent the beginning of something rather different from a traditional OPAC. It is a new kind of library system; a general purpose library computing environment that has the elements of an OPAC and circulation system. It brings together a lot of useful ideas from diverse areas: from weighted term searching and hyperlinked object databases, to embedded systems ideas and information appliances.
For this reason I have decided to take a different development strategy. Because I think I have discovered something new and unusual, it is very important that the next version of Avanti be released as a finished and polished product in final form, rather than releasing incremental improvements to a skeletal system. This will give the public something really tangible to try, test, understand and use in a coherent form. This is a no compromises push to get Avanti done and done right. The next version of Avanti will be a solid 1.0. Please be patient. This will take at least several months, possibly well into the second half of 2002.
In parallel with the development effort I am writing an "Avanti Book." The Avanti Book is much more than installation instructions or a user guide. It is a comprehensive work that provides a practical introduction and tutorial, a thorough in-depth explanation of the system architecture, design philosophy, and underlying theory. It delves into advanced topics in using Avanti. It also provides a complete user reference outlining all features and the public API.
I think it is very important to do things this way. The best way to really define the system is by writing a book that documents it. In addition to assuring adequate documentation, it provides a kind of feedback mechanism for the development process. By trying to honestly describe something in a book, in terms that other people can understand, you are forced to think it through completely, and produce something that is really clean and simple. To see an outline of what is in the works, take a look at http://avantilibrarysystems.com/book.html .
The results of all of this work I hope to release sometime between July and October 2002. This does not mean that I will be working in self-imposed exile. Visit the Avanti website from time to time. Soon, I plan to post online demos, documentation and other stuff illustrating the concepts that I am working at (the demos REALLY need updating!!!) E-mail me if you want. I will be happy to welcome and answer all feedback from anyone, whether negative or positive.
Avanti Project Manager