UW-Forward Collaboration


LOCI's collaboration with UW-Forward aims to provide a method for WiscScan users to share data with the UW community, as well as the general public, through the UW Library System’s Forward application. Data can be shared with UW-Forward by filling out several simple fields in WiscScan during acquisition.

This page provides a guide for WiscScan users at LOCI who are interested in sharing data in UW-Forward. In addition, other labs or projects interested in developing a similar approach to sharing data can view the code provided at the bottom of this page.


Forward is the UW library system’s experimental catalog and resource discovery website. Forward allows users to search and browse the library holdings of the entire UW system through a more advanced and user-friendly interface than that of a traditional library catalog. In addition, the Forward project seeks to provide access to other types of university resources including digital collections and research data.

LOCI has developed a system that allows WiscScan users to “opt in” to sharing data in Forward. If a WiscScan user agrees to share data for a particular experiment, it will appear in Forward as a record consisting of a thumbnail image and information about the experiment (metadata). Forward does not provide direct access to the raw data file(s), but it does include instructions for users interested in obtaining raw data to contact the experimenter via email. These records are searchable and browsable like any other library materials, so users searching Forward will now be able to discover and access research data alongside books, journals, and other library holdings.

Sharing Data in UW-Forward

  1. In the WiscScan “Experiment Setup Information” window, there is now a check-box at the bottom that allows users to agree to share data with Forward (see below).
  2. After clicking the box next to “Check if you want to upload images to UW Forward project,” another window will pop up with a brief description of what agreeing to share data with Forward entails. Click “OK” to continue.
  3. For any data collected while this box is checked, WiscScan will automatically generate a thumbnail image and metadata file for Forward to use.  These files will then be uploaded to a directory that Forward harvests on a regular basis.

[img_assist|nid=781|title=WiscScan fields relevant to UW-Forward|desc=|link=node|align=middle|width=700|height=427]

Describing Data

The metadata that Forward displays is mapped directly from the descriptions entered into WiscScan during acquisition. In particular, the information entered into the “Project Name” and “Description” fields will help Forward users search and browse for data. There is also a new text field called “Annotations” where brief keywords can be provided (see above). These may be single words or short phrases, and multiple keywords can be entered for each experiment (separated by commas). Entering clear and detailed descriptions and annotations will make it much easier for data to be discovered by Forward users. A sample of what images and metadata look like in Forward is provided below. Note that the information in the “Title,” “Description,” and “Subjects” fields in Forward are mapped directly from what is entered in the “Project Name,” “Description,” and “Annotations” fields in WiscScan, respectively. These are the only fields that require input from the experimenter. The rest of the information Forward displays is generated from metadata that WiscScan automatically captures.

[img_assist|nid=782|title=Sample LOCI record in UW-Forward|desc=|link=node|align=middle|width=662|height=795]

Technical Information

In order to share data with UW-Forward, an automated process was developed to transform OME-XML metadata produced by WiscScan to METS XML metadata used by Forward. This was done through the use of an XSLT stylesheet. In addition, a cron job was created to automatically extract a thumbnail image and upload both the thumbnail and the METS XML metadata to a directory that Forward uses for harvesting. Other projects/labs using the OME-XML data model could use a similar approach for sharing data with Forward.