This is a status update for Avanti and an announcement for the upcoming release of its first production software.
In January 2002 I decided to suspend any further public releases of Avanti code and instead, work quietly until I was finished and present a single, complete product. Since then work has continued at a very rapid pace and I expect it will continue at that pace through the Summer.
Enough progress has now been made that I feel confident to announce that Avanti MicroLCS version 1.0, the first complete product from the Avanti project, is expected to be released some time in Fall 2002. I will give a more precise release date on this list as the system approaches completion.
Sixteen months in the making so far, MicroLCS is a general library computing system designed for use in small libraries of all types. It runs much like an ILS and at version 1.0 it is intended to be used as such. But as a general computing system for libraries, it has a unique architecture and some underlying technologies that in many ways makes it very different from any other ILS software, both open source and commercial. This leaves open possibilities that go beyond a typical ILS in future versions.
Stated generally, some of its more interesting technical features are:
* Architecture: MicroLCS has a very general and adaptable underlying architecture that allows a very wide variety of possible configurations. there are no fixed field definitions in any of its databases. These are all configured by the user. The architecture is also standards neutral. Although version 1.0 will fully support MARC import/export/edit capability it does not force the user to use the MARC format. This makes it useful to those libraries who choose not to use MARC. It also puts MicroLCS in a good position to adapt as standards change and evolve.
* Simple to set up and runs on just about anything. MicroLCS is written in all Java and developed at a very low level using only the standard Java class libraries. As such it will run on any computer that supports a Java virtual machine and a TCP/IP network connection, nothing more needed.
* Not a web based application: MicroLCS is its own client/server system with a complete standalone multi-threaded server and Java applet clients. Client/server communication is done using its own native open protocol over raw TCP/IP sockets. It does not need a web server in order to work. Although it is meant to integrate very nicely within a web-based environment, because the protocol designed for it is dual stateless/stateful, it can do certain things much more nicely than a typical web based application.
* Simple, clear, and easy to use graphical interfaces for OPAC, cataloging and circulation modules. It even supports a fully featured text based command line interface accessible via telnet.
* A very lean and fast embedded database management system package (PicoDB) developed from scratch especially for this project, so you don't need to configure anything like mySQL. Data can be imported/exported using delimited text. An SQL interface for PicoDB is in the works. PicoDB may in the future be spun of as a separate project as a small footprint embeddable DBMS.
* Built on top of PicoDB is a hyperlinked object database system that allows you to build complex arbitrary relationship structures between objects in databases and eventually any external objects on the network. This system is already being used by MicroLCS in a hard coded fashion to link title records, holdings records, circulation information and patron records. Future versions will provide an interface that will allow users access to this very useful component in a much more general way.
Avanti MicroLCS consists of three logical "modules": OPAC, cataloging, and circulation. the OPAC and cataloging modules are pretty much complete. When they are finished, work will turn to the circulation module. The MARC import/export/edit utilities are still in the design stage.
Because I have been concentrating on development and writing the documentation, I have not always had the time to keep the project website up to date. What is in development now is way beyond the last releases and documentation currently on the website. I will, however, announce anything important on the front page and try to keep an online demo running a reasonably fresh version of the basic search OPAC client at http://www.avantilibrarysystems.com/demo . You are welcome to play with it, but for now the documentation for it may be a bit stale.
The release of Avanti MicroLCS 1.0 will be fully documented including a user manual and tutorial. It will be in a package that is easy to install and configure.
Avanti Project Manager
North Suburban Library System
200 West Dundee Road, Wheeling IL 60090
(847)459-1300 ext. 7155 email@example.com