New Features in Greenstone 2.85

Some of the new Greenstone features which facilitate the creation of institutional repositories and other open access collections:

1. OAI server

Your collections can easily be made available for remote harvesting using OAI-PMH protocol, which works silently in parallel with normal web access to the collections. All that you have to do is to add a bit of configuration data in the oai.cfg text file in the etc subdirectory under the Greenstone home directory. The data to specify is explained in comment lines in the above file. If the collections to be made available through OAI-PMH do not all use Dublin Core metadata or one of the two other standard OAI metadata sets, the oai.cfg file will need to contain mapping data to translate your metadata into one of the Greenstone OAI-PMH metadata sets (also explained in the comments to the oai.cfg file).

OAI-PMH support has been provided for some time by Greenstone, but there have previously been a few functional gaps, as well as a bug in version in 2.84. In version 2.85, all official OAI-PMH validation criteria have been tested and satisfied; you will be able to validate your own OAI-PMH server using instructions given in the release notes. If you don't specify the urls for the associated documents in the metadata, the system can automatically generate internal urls so that users can access the full documents from the harvested OAI records. You will also now be able to harvest OAI-PMH records and the associated documents residing in external Greenstone collections (in 2.84, harvesting worked to access information in non-Greenstone collections, but there was problem in harvesting from other Greenstone collections).

Much information is put up on the web without clear specification of the concerned intellectual property rights. Although this is not good practice in general, when activating the OAI server special care should be taken to ensure that your documents are really available under open access conditions (in the public domain or freely distributable and re-distributable under an open access license such as Creative Commons). Greenstone can only take care of the technical access - for legal and organisational considerations, prospective open access providers may consult, for example, the resource links of the EIFL Open Access programme (

Once your OAI server is operational, to provide maximal international visibility for your open access collections you should register them in at least one (and ideally all) of the following: the ROAR directory (, the OAI directory ( and the OpenDOAR directory ( It would also be very nice if you could confirm to this list that your server is operational, providing the url base address.

2. PDF metadata

Prior to version 2.83, reliable import of, and metadata extraction from, pdf files was limited to PDF versions 1.4 and earlier. Starting with 2.84 a new "PDF Box extension" has been available as a separate download to handle all PDF versions. This extension file need only be placed in the ext subdirectory of Greenstone for the improved PDF handling facilities to be operational (see the release notes). The PDF Box extension has been further improved in version 2.85, so please be sure to download, unzip and insert an up-to-date PDF Box extension for this version, replacing the version of the file which you may have downloaded for version 2.84.

By using the PDF Box extension, you can extract any metadata entered in standard manner in a pdf file, i.e. the traditional pdf metadata (Author, Title, Subject, Keywords) and/or the newer XMP format metadata (including user defined fields). In general, we recommend that for users interested in extracting PDF metadata, it is better to use the PDF Box extension, even for pdf files in version 1.4 or earlier.

Using the PDF metadata extraction facility means that for PDF files generated by the users with metadata included (either directly with a tool like Acrobat, or by generating a PDF file from a package like Word which can transfer Word metadata to the generated PDF file), these metadata can be automatically incorporated into a Greenstone collection (without having to enter them in GLI or compile a metadata.xml file). This could clearly be of interest to open access applications, particularly when decentralized input is being submitted.ext subdirectory of Greenstone for the improved PDF handling facilities to be operational (see the release notes)

There is a catch: the metadata extraction procedure may not work flawlessly on recent version PDF files which are not "linearised" (called Fast Web View in Acrobat). So linearised PDF files should be used; the open source QPDF program ( claims to be able to linarise non-linearised PDF files, but this remains to be confirmed in so far as Greenstone treatment is concerned. Feedback from users on the PDF metadata extraction facility is most welcome.

3. Section handling for PDF files

For several years Greenstone has proposed a facility to automatically generate internal section (chapter) information from a Microsoft Office (e.g. Word), OpenOffice/Libreoffice or html document, but not for a PDF file - this allows for table of contents display of the document and finer chapter-based searching.

Word files can be treated in this way if a compatible version of Word is installed in the computer in which a collection is built (see the tutorial at Word, Office Open XML or OpenDocument format files can also be treated without proprietary software if OpenOffice or LibreOffice is installed, by downloading the Greenstone OpenOffice extension into the ext subdirectory of the Greenstone installation (see the release notes), and activating the open office option in the Word (or Powerpoint, or Excel) plugin of Greenstone (similar to activating on Windows/Word scripting option as in the above mentioned tutorial).

An example collection has now been prepared to show how this can be extended to PDF files (see Included is an explanation of how to build the collection through the following steps: a. develop a Word version and a PDF version of the document (conversion of the Word version to PDF or vice-versa); b. make sure that the heading formats in Word are consistent with what you want for sections and subsections; c. import the Word file into Greenstone specifying the PDF file as an associated file; d. use the format statement guidance in the worked example to be able to search on the document subsections and also display the hit terms in the original PDF file (Word or OpenOffice/LibreOffice no longer needed after building - the collection could for example in the meantime have been transferred to a Linux server).

An alternative, more controllable but more labour intensive, method without recourse to word processing software would be to import the pdf file into Greenstone, right click in the Gather view and convert it to html, call an html editor and ensure that the section information is correctly introduced, add the pdf again but as an associated file (by setting the assoc-files parameter in HTMLPlugin), then build and display as per the worked example.

More complete documentation is being developed for all of the above techniques, and we will keep you informed on its progress.

To switch to version 2.85 from an earlier Greenstone version with minimal risks, you could i) back up your collections, ii) install 2.85 in a new home directory (to specified to the installer), and iii) copy the collect sub-directory from the old to the new version. If you are presently using a recent previous version of Greenstone (2.8x), the collections should be immediately available for use; if not, particularly for collections built under older versions of Greenstone, it should suffice to rebuild the collections under the new version. Any problems can be addressed to this list or the main Greenstone users list (

If you want to transfer information on users and user groups, the corresponding databases (users.gdb, key.gdb) should be copied from the etc sub-directory in the old collection to the new one. Of course if you have customised your previous version (main.cfg, style.css, macros, etc.), the old versions should also be copied to the new installation. When all is working perfectly, the old installation can be deleted.