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Presentations

TF01: Research Data & Digital Preservation
Time: 05/Jun/2018: 1:30pm-3:00pm · Location: Ballroom C

Relational Databases as Repository Objects

Alexander Garnett

Simon Fraser University, Canada

Faculty and other researchers wanting to deposit relational databases can pose interesting challenges for research repositories. In many such cases, an application layer which was custom-made to run on top of the database is no longer sustainable for the research team who had been maintaining it, and it is not always clear whether a less bespoke solution will be an adequate replacement.

Generally, making a relational database fit the model of research repositories, which usually assume more-or-less flat files, can be tricky. MySQL or Postgres databases can be exported down to a single file, but this usually requires access to admin tools and/or curator support; ingesting these export files is easy, but serving them back as-is doesn’t provide much value to end users who may lack the technical expertise to load them into a live database.

It is technically possible for a repository platform to interact programmatically with virtualization software like Docker to run an isolated database instance for every such uploaded object, to provide a relatively simple SQL interface in the browser on the object’s landing page, and to save a few database-specific queries for novice users to run automatically. I will discuss the implications of doing so.

 
 
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