ORDS now closed, but TrunkDB is up and running

As previously reported, the ORDS ceased to be supported by the University of Oxford on 1 June this year. After a grace period of a few weeks, the servers have now been switched off.

While we’re sorry to be saying a final farewell and thank you to those who have used and supported the service over the last few years, we do have some good news to share. Cetis LLP, who worked on the ORDS Open Sourcing Project, have now developed the software into an online service called TrunkDB. Free trial accounts are available to those with UK university credentials.

Members of the University of Oxford are also still more than welcome to contact the IT Services Research Support team to discuss the options available for database hosting – plus other ways of storing, analysing, and sharing data.

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ORDS to be wound down

It is with some sadness we announce that a decision has been taken to wind down the ORDS. From 1 June 2017, the service will no longer be available via the University of Oxford. This is primarily as a result of challenges posed by the ongoing maintenance and development of the software.

Until the closure date, the service will continue to be available to existing users, though no further development will occur. The IT Services Research Support team will work with users to help them identify alternative solutions that meet their needs, and to assist with data migration. If you fall into this category, please get in touch to set up a meeting to discuss your requirements.

Although we are sorry to be bidding farewell to the Oxford version of the ORDS, we hope that the software will nevertheless live on as a result of the ORDS Open-Sourcing Project.

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Survey on use of databases for research – please contribute!

If you are a researcher who organizes data in databases, please spare a few minutes to complete our survey on the use of databases for research: http://goo.gl/forms/1w1EjU6FAs

The survey will inform Jisc decisions regarding the provision of a national database service developed from Oxford’s ‘Online Research Database Service’ (ORDS). It is anonymous and shouldn’t take more than five minutes to complete.

Thanks!

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Sign up for the new ORDS hands-on course on Monday 2nd November, 2015

The University of Oxford IT Services will be running a 2-3 hour ‘hands-on’ course on using the ORDS from 2pm on Monday the 2nd November, 2015. The course will introduce the service and provide basic training for those unfamiliar with the service or keen to refresh their memories. A coursebook will be provided. New functionality that will be covered in the course includes the graphical query designer.

Those interested in attending should sign up viquerybuildera the IT Learning Programme’s course page at http://courses.it.ox.ac.uk/detail/TDDE.

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ORDS maintenance work Tuesday 27th October 7am to 9am

Please be aware that the ORDS is scheduled to be down between 7am and 9am on the 27th October 2015 for standard server updates. It is advised that you do not try to use the service during this period.

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New ORDS mailing list

If you are interested in receiving news and updates about the Online Research Database Service, please join the new ORDS mailing list. It’s unlikely that we’ll be sending out more than one email per month on average, so you won’t be overwhelmed. And of course you can always unsubscribe again should you ever tire of hearing about our exciting new features and ideas.

To subscribe to the list, address an email to sympa@maillist.ox.ac.uk, with the subject line subscribe ords_mailinglist Firstname Surname. You should replace ‘Firstname’ and ‘Surname’ with your own name.

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Next ORDS training course on Monday 1st June

The termly ORDS training course will take place on Monday 1st June (6th week), starting at 2pm, at the IT Services building on Banbury Road. The course offers a general introduction to the service, and gives participants a chance to try it out for themselves.

For further details, or to book a place, see the ITLP course listing. There is no charge for attending.

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ORDS Release 1.0.14

It’s been almost two months since the last ORDS release, and the eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that we seem to have skipped a few version numbers (from 1.0.10 to 1.0.14). During this time we’ve been working on getting the data filtering interface to work properly. Data filtering had been built-in to the ORDS before its official release in August 2014, but was removed from the official launch version due to various problems associated with it. Its reintroduction has required a lot of testing and several software builds that were deemed too unstable to make it into the public service, but everything should now be in place and working. Do let us know how you get on with it.

Much of the credit for the filtering interface should go to the members of the ORDS User Group, who helped us design the function. The User Group have also been helping the ORDS team design a visual query builder, which will allow users to create sophisticated conditional queries across multiple tables without the need to know SQL. We’ll be starting work on that shortly, and will report back on progress in due course.

Changes between this version of the ORDS and version 1.0.10 include the following:

  • Implemented filtering interface. Records can now be filtered in the data editing view enabling users to isolate those that are of interest or require further work
  • Commas within data should no longer cause problems when exporting the data as .csv files
  • Record auto-numbering within the ORDS native interface should now work after a table has been edited via third-party software such as MS Access
  • Bug relating to changing the accuracy of decimal data types now fixed
  • Occasional occurrence of ORDS generating SQL syntax errors fixed
  • Updated documentation regarding data types
  • Occasional crash when re-running static datasets fixed
  • Improvements to presentation of ‘Add New Record’ form – including fixing occasional font re-sizing issues
  • Uploaded data containing Greek (or other non-Roman) characters should now always display correctly in the editing interface
  • Improved database upload mechanisms – this enables larger databases than formerly to be uploaded directly by users without the system timing out
  • Improved memory handling when deleting databases
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ORDS Release 1.0.9

The Online Research Database Service was upgraded to version 1.0.9 on 10/3/2015. If you have been following the ORDS development you may notice that this means we have skipped release 1.0.8., which was not as stable as we would have liked and therefore did not make it past the verification phase.

Release 1.0.9 include a number of fixes and functionality improvements, including

  • Fixed issues blocking import of large databases (>400 MB)
  • You can now sort records in the data editing view by clicking on field names
  • Comments relating to particular fields are now visible in the data adding/editing interface
  • Data can now be saved as .csv when running a saved query
  • Entering a semicolon in the querying interface no longer causes a crash
  • Sorting query results no longer prevents them being subsequently saved as a dataset or exported
  • Apostrophes should now display correctly in query results
  • .csv exports now include correct field names
  • Some issues relating to the upload of non-standard characters fixed (although this issue is not yet completely resolved)
  • The ‘clear query’ button should now work in Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers
  • Automatically-generated incremental ID number should now actually be incremental in all cases
  • Improvements to in-service documentation and labeling

Over the next couple of weeks we will be focusing in particular on issues relating to importing and exporting data contacting non-standard characters. We will also be applying the finishing touches to the ODBC connections system, which should make it easier to edit ORDS databases from 3rd party database management software such as Microsoft Access.

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Ten reasons to use the ORDS

Word cloud created using Wordle.netSince our launch last August, the ORDS has been helping Oxford researchers to create, edit, search, and share databases online.

We’re pretty proud of what we’ve achieved, but we know we’re only one of many tools available. So why should researchers working with data consider using the ORDS?

We think there are lots of good reasons – here are ten of them. Continue reading

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