blyberg.net asks ILS vendors to listen
John @ Blyberg.net posts some very interesting thoughts on asking ILS vendors to open up their systems and let libraries design online services for their patrons, instead of being constrained by what the vendor supplies.
As a web developer, when I saw what III offered customization wise with their OPAC, it really broke my heart. I was hoping that by now vendors would be offering true customization of the OPAC, not just customizing within the contstraints of their own (inflexible) custom scripting language.
Ideally, I should be able to write my own templates and hook into an interface the vendor supplies and enable whatever functionality is needed. But as it stands, I can't do that. And as far as I know, there isn't a vendor that offers that.
But here is what I really don't understand. A free service like Flickr, offers a FREE API (programming interface) that I can hook into and design applications to work with their service.
If you put out an API, people will write programs for it just because they can! What vendor would not want 1, 2, 25, or 100 programmers writing applications, for fun, using an interface the vendor provided? The talent is out there, people will do it because they can. People will share it, it will get better, and guess what? If you ask nicely, I bet people would let you distribute it (at no cost!) with your package.
Our III OPAC functions great. It's easy and it works. But I want to do more to it and enable more in it (like RSS feeds) but I am constrained by what is already there. I have the motivation and the time..I need access. I need APIs.
Note: These are my opinions. My employer does not endorse or support these opinions in anyway. I hold nothing against any ILS vendor. My motto has always been to work with what I've got.
But what I'm asking is that we be given more for what we pay :)