Embedding Versioning Information in an Object:
This section deals with how a repository manager can ensure that essential versioning information can be embedded within objects in the repository by applying one or more of the suggested object solutions consistently.
Although it is very important to include versioning information in metadata (as discussed in the 'strategy for repository managers' section), it is also critical to ensure that the version information is directly available within an object and transparent to an end user. This is because there are ways of accessing an object which can bypass its associated metadata. If the information is embedded within the object, it can not be lost and the user can determine for themselves what version they have at hand, therefore enhancing the user's trust and confidence that they have the best version for their purposes.
Examples of how metadata information may not be seen by the end user include:
- An internet search may lead a user directly to an object, bypassing the repository metadata.
- Saving an item found in a repository locally breaks the connection to the repository and therefore the associated metadata. The embedded information enables version identification without the user having to search for the link again. Furthermore the information is still available if the user cannot later find the repository link again, or if the link ends up broken for any reason.
- Specific cross-repository search services deal with the inconsistencies that exist across repositories by harvesting as much information as possible and then reproducing it in their standard format. It is possible that versioning information that a repository has included in their metadata may get missed in the search service's standard format.
It is strongly recommended that at least one of the following solutions to embed versioning information into object is advocated and used systematically within a repository:
The diagram below also demonstrates how the essential versioning information could be associated with any given digital object. Either use the links above or hover over the diagram below and click on a section below to link to read more details about each object solution:
An additional advantage to embedding the information is that content creators can be encouraged to do this themselves before the object is deposited into a repository. The opportunities gained are that it;
- provides the repository staff with more information at the time of deposit
- reduces confusion over version status
- assists the organisation of the content creators own work.
It is unlikely that a content creator will use the watermarking solution or cover sheet in the same way as a repository will apply it, but the other object solutions present easier options. The content creators section of the framework has much more detail on the various object types, including examples of and guides to how to make the best of the common file types.
The methods most likely to be taken up by content creators and therefore are most strongly advocated to content creators in this framework are:
- Using a clear, updated and consistent filename with relevant version information in it. A filename might use any of the essential versioning information types identified in the framework, for example, dates, a numbering system, or a taxonomy, but the important thing to advocate is that content creators update the filename for new versions.
- Filling in the ID tag or properties fields.
- Use of a title page or sheet. Whilst a content creator will not apply a consistent coversheet in the same way as described as an approach in this section for a repository, they are able to include a title page on general text documents, PDF, PowerPoint, LaTex and even in Excel files.