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This page explains various customization and configuration options that are available within DSpace for the Item Submission user interface.

Understanding the Submission Configuration File

The [dspace]/config/item-submission.xml contains the submission configurations for both the DSpace JSP user interface (JSPUI) or the DSpace XML user interface (XMLUI or Manakin). This configuration file contains detailed documentation within the file itself, which should help you better understand how to best utilize it.

The Structure of item-submission.xml

Because this file is in XML format, you should be familiar with XML before editing this file. By default, this file contains the "traditional" Item Submission Process for DSpace, which consists of the following Steps (in this order):

Select Collection -> Initial Questions -> Describe -> Upload -> Verify -> License -> Complete

If you would like to customize the steps used or the ordering of the steps, you can do so within the <submission-definition> section of the item-submission.xml .

In addition, you may also specify different Submission Processes for different DSpace Collections. This can be done in the <submission-map> section. The item-submission.xml file itself documents the syntax required to perform these configuration changes.

Defining Steps (<step>) within the item-submission.xml

This section describes how Steps of the Submission Process are defined within the item-submission.xml.

Where to place your <step> definitions

<step> definitions can appear in one of two places within the item-submission.xml configuration file.

  1. Within the <step-definitions>section
    • This is for globally defined <step> definitions (i.e. steps which are used in multiple <submission-process> definitions). Steps defined in this section must define a unique id which can be used to reference this step.
    • For example:

    • The above step definition could then be referenced from within a <submission-process> as simply <step id="custom-step"/>
  2. Within a specific <submission-process>definition
    • This is for steps which are specific to a single <submission-process> definition.
    • For example:

The ordering of <step> definitions matters!

The ordering of the <step> tags within a <submission-process> definition directly corresponds to the order in which those steps will appear!

For example, the following defines a Submission Process where the License step directly precedes the Initial Questions step (more information about the structure of the information under each <step> tag can be found in the section on Structure of the <step> Definition below):

Structure of the <step> Definition

The same <step> definition is used by both the DSpace JSP user interface (JSPUI) an the DSpace XML user interface (XMLUI or Manakin). Therefore, you will notice each <step> definition contains information specific to each of these two interfaces.

The structure of the <step> Definition is as follows:

Each step contains the following elements. The required elements are so marked:

  • heading: Partial I18N key (defined in Messages.properties for JSPUI or messages.xmlfor XMLUI) which corresponds to the text that should be displayed in the submission Progress Bar for this step. This partial I18N key is prefixed within either the Messages.properties or messages.xml file, depending on the interface you are using. Therefore, to find the actual key, you will need to search for the partial key with the following prefix:
    • XMLUI: prefix is xmlui.Submission. (e.g. "xmlui.Submission.submit.progressbar.describe" for 'Describe' step)
    • JSPUI: prefix is jsp. (e.g. "jsp.submit.progressbar.describe" for 'Describe' step)The 'heading' need not be defined if the step should not appear in the progress bar (e.g. steps which perform automated processing, i.e. non-interactive, should not appear in the progress bar).
  • processing-class (Required): Full Java path to the Processing Class for this Step. This Processing Class must perform the primary processing of any information gathered in this step, for both the XMLUI and JSPUI. All valid step processing classes must extend the abstract org.dspace.submit.AbstractProcessingStep class (or alternatively, extend one of the pre-existing step processing classes in org.dspace.submit.step.*)
  • jspui-binding: Full Java path of the JSPUI "binding" class for this Step. This "binding" class should initialize and call the appropriate JSPs to display the step's user interface. A valid JSPUI "binding" class must extend the abstract org.dspace.app.webui.submit.JSPStep class. This property need not be defined if you are using the XMLUI interface, or for steps which only perform automated processing, i.e. non-interactive steps.
  • xmlui-binding: Full Java path of the XMLUI "binding" class for this Step. This "binding" class should generate the Manakin XML (DRI document) necessary to generate the step's user interface. A valid XMLUI "binding" class must extend the abstract org.dspace.app.xmlui.submission.AbstractSubmissionStep class. This property need not be defined if you are using the JSPUI interface, or for steps which only perform automated processing, i.e. non-interactive steps.
  • workflow-editable: Defines whether or not this step can be edited during the Edit Metadata process with the DSpace approval/rejection workflow process. Possible values include true and false. If undefined, defaults to true (which means that workflow reviewers would be allowed to edit information gathered during that step).

Reordering/Removing Submission Steps

The removal of existing steps and reordering of existing steps is a relatively easy process!

Reordering steps

  1. Locate the <submission-process> tag which defines the Submission Process that you are using. If you are unsure which Submission Process you are using, it's likely the one with name="traditional", since this is the traditional DSpace submission process.
  2. Reorder the <step> tags within that <submission-process> tag. Be sure to move the entire <step> tag (i.e. everything between and including the opening <step> and closing </step>tags).
    • Hint #1: The <step> defining the Review/Verify step only allows the user to review information from steps which appear before it. So, it's likely you'd want this to appear as one of your last few steps
    • Hint #2: If you are using it, the <step> defining the Initial Questions step should always appear before the Upload or Describe steps since it asks questions which help to set up those later steps.

Removing one or more steps

  1. Locate the <submission-process> tag which defines the Submission Process that you are using. If you are unsure which Submission Process you are using, it's likely the one with name="traditional", since this is the traditional DSpace submission process.
  2. Comment out (i.e. surround with <! - and ->) the <step> tags which you want to remove from that <submission-process> tag. Be sure to comment out the entire {{<step>}}tag (i.e. everything between and including the opening _<step> and closing </step>tags).
    • Hint #1: You cannot remove the Select a Collection step, as an DSpace Item cannot exist without belonging to a Collection.
    • Hint #2: If you decide to remove the <step> defining the Initial Questions step, you should be aware that this may affect your Describe and Upload steps! The Initial Questions step asks questions which help to initialize these later steps. If you decide to remove the Initial Questions step you may wish to create a custom, automated step which will provide default answers for the questions asked!

Assigning a custom Submission Process to a Collection

Assigning a custom submission process to a Collection in DSpace involves working with the submission-map section of the item-submission.xml. For a review of the structure of the item-submission.xml see the section above on Understanding the Submission Configuration File.

Each name-map element within submission-map associates a collection with the name of a submission definition. Its collection-handle attribute is the Handle of the collection. Its submission-name attribute is the submission definition name, which must match the name attribute of a submission-process element (in the submission-definitions section of item-submission.xml.

For example, the following fragment shows how the collection with handle "12345.6789/42" is assigned the "custom" submission process:

It's a good idea to keep the definition of the default name-map from the example input-forms.xml so there is always a default for collections which do not have a custom form set.

Getting A Collection's Handle

You will need the handle of a collection in order to assign it a custom form set. To discover the handle, go to the "Communities & Collections" page under "Browse" in the left-hand menu on your DSpace home page. Then, find the link to your collection. It should look something like:

The underlined part of the URL is the handle. It should look familiar to any DSpace administrator. That is what goes in the collection-handle attribute of your name-map element.

Custom Metadata-entry Pages for Submission

Introduction

This section explains how to customize the Web forms used by submitters and editors to enter and modify the metadata for a new item. These metadata web forms are controlled by the Describe step within the Submission Process. However, they are also configurable via their own XML configuration file (input-forms.xml).

You can customize the "default" metadata forms used by all collections, and also create alternate sets of metadata forms and assign them to specific collections. In creating custom metadata forms, you can choose:

  • The number of metadata-entry pages.
  • Which fields appear on each page, and their sequence.
  • Labels, prompts, and other text associated with each field.
  • List of available choices for each menu-driven field.

NOTE: The cosmetic and ergonomic details of metadata entry fields remain the same as the fixed metadata pages in previous DSpace releases, and can only be altered by modifying the appropriate stylesheet and JSP pages.

All of the custom metadata-entry forms for a DSpace instance are controlled by a single XML file, input-forms.xml, in the config subdirectory under the DSpace home. DSpace comes with a sample configuration that implements the traditional metadata-entry forms, which also serves as a well-documented example. The rest of this section explains how to create your own sets of custom forms.

Describing Custom Metadata Forms

The description of a set of pages through which submitters enter their metadata is called a form (although it is actually a set of forms, in the HTML sense of the term). A form is identified by a unique symbolic name. In the XML structure, the form is broken down into a series of pages: each of these represents a separate Web page for collecting metadata elements.

To set up one of your DSpace collections with customized submission forms, first you make an entry in the form-map. This is effectively a table that relates a collection to a form set, by connecting the collection's Handle to the form name. Collections are identified by handle because their names are mutable and not necessarily unique, while handles are unique and persistent.

A special map entry, for the collection handle "default", defines the default form set. It applies to all collections which are not explicitly mentioned in the map. In the example XML this form set is named traditional (for the "traditional" DSpace user interface) but it could be named anything.

The Structure of input-forms.xml

The XML configuration file has a single top-level element, input-forms, which contains three elements in a specific order. The outline is as follows:

Adding a Collection Map

Each name-map element within form-map associates a collection with the name of a form set. Its collection-handle attribute is the Handle of the collection, and its form-name attribute is the form set name, which must match the name attribute of a form element.

For example, the following fragment shows how the collection with handle "12345.6789/42" is attached to the "TechRpt" form set:

It's a good idea to keep the definition of the default name-map from the example input-forms.xml so there is always a default for collections which do not have a custom form set.

Getting A Collection's Handle

You will need the handle of a collection in order to assign it a custom form set. To discover the handle, go to the "Communities & Collections" page under "Browse" in the left-hand menu on your DSpace home page. Then, find the link to your collection. It should look something like:

The underlined part of the URL is the handle. It should look familiar to any DSpace administrator. That is what goes in the collection-handle attribute of your name-map element.

Adding a Form Set

You can add a new form set by creating a new form element within the form-definitions element. It has one attribute, name, which as seen above must match the value of the name-map for the collections it is to be used for.

Forms and Pages

The content of the form is a sequence of page elements. Each of these corresponds to a Web page of forms for entering metadata elements, presented in sequence between the initial "Describe" page and the final "Verify" page (which presents a summary of all the metadata collected).

A form must contain at least one and at most six pages. They are presented in the order they appear in the XML. Each page element must include a number attribute, that should be its sequence number, e.g.

The page element, in turn, contains a sequence of field elements. Each field defines an interactive dialog where the submitter enters one of the Dublin Core metadata items.

Composition of a Field

Each field contains the following elements, in the order indicated. The required sub-elements are so marked:

  • dc-schema (Required) : Name of metadata schema employed, e.g. dc for Dublin Core. This value must match the value of the schema element defined in dublin-core-types.xml
  • dc-element (Required) : Name of the Dublin Core element entered in this field, e.g. contributor.
  • dc-qualifier: Qualifier of the Dublin Core element entered in this field, e.g. when the field is contributor.advisor the value of this element would be advisor. Leaving this out means the input is for an unqualified DC element.
  • repeatable: Value is true when multiple values of this field are allowed, false otherwise. When you mark a field repeatable, the UI servlet will add a control to let the user ask for more fields to enter additional values. Intended to be used for arbitrarily-repeating fields such as subject keywords, when it is impossible to know in advance how many input boxes to provide.
  • label (Required): Text to display as the label of this field, describing what to enter, e.g. "Your Advisor's Name".
  • input-type(Required): Defines the kind of interactive widget to put in the form to collect the Dublin Core value. Content must be one of the following keywords:
    • onebox – A single text-entry box.
    • twobox – A pair of simple text-entry boxes, used for repeatable values such as the DC subject item. Note: The 'twobox' input type is rendered the same as a 'onebox' in the XML-UI, but both allow for ease of adding multiple values.
    • textarea – Large block of text that can be entered on multiple lines, e.g. for an abstract.
    • name – Personal name, with separate fields for family name and first name. When saved they are appended in the format 'LastName, FirstName'
    • date – Calendar date. When required, demands that at least the year be entered.
    • series – Series/Report name and number. Separate fields are provided for series name and series number, but they are appended (with a semicolon between) when saved.
    • dropdown – Choose value(s) from a "drop-down" menu list. Note: You must also include a value for the value-pairs-name attribute to specify a list of menu entries from which to choose. Use this to make a choice from a restricted set of options, such as for the language item.
    • qualdrop_value – Enter a "qualified value", which includes both a qualifier from a drop-down menu and a free-text value. Used to enter items like alternate identifiers and codes for a submitted item, e.g. the DC identifier field. Note: As for the dropdown type, you must include the value-pairs-name attribute to specify a menu choice list.
    • list – Choose value(s) from a checkbox or radio button list. If the repeatable attribute is set to true, a list of checkboxes is displayed. If the repeatable attribute is set to false, a list of radio buttons is displayed. Note: You must also include a value for the value-pairs-name attribute to specify a list of values from which to choose.
  • hint (Required): Content is the text that will appear as a "hint", or instructions, next to the input fields. Can be left empty, but it must be present.
  • required: When this element is included with any content, it marks the field as a required input. If the user tries to leave the page without entering a value for this field, that text is displayed as a warning message. For example, <required>You must enter a title.</required> Note that leaving the required element empty will not mark a field as required, e.g.:<required></required>
  • visibility: When this optional element is included with a value, it restricts the visibility of the field to the scope defined by that value. If the element is missing or empty, the field is visible in all scopes. Currently supported scopes are:
    • workflow : the field will only be visible in the workflow stages of submission. This is good for hiding difficult fields for users, such as subject classifications, thereby easing the use of the submission system.
    • submit : the field will only be visible in the initial submission, and not in the workflow stages. In addition, you can decide which type of restriction apply: read-only or full hidden the field (default behaviour) using the otherwise attribute of the visibility XML element. For example:<visibility otherwise="readonly">workflow</visibility> Note that it is considered a configuration error to limit a field's scope while also requiring it - an exception will be generated when this combination is detected.
      Look at the example input-forms.xml and experiment with a a trial custom form to learn this specification language thoroughly. It is a very simple way to express the layout of data-entry forms, but the only way to learn all its subtleties is to use it.

For the use of controlled vocabularies see the Configuring Controlled Vocabularies section.

Item type Based Metadata Collection

This feature is available for use with the XMLUI since DSpace 3.0 and with JSPUI since 3.1. A field can be made visible depending on the value of dc.type. A new field element, <type-bind>, has been introduced to facilitate this. In this example the field will only be visible if a value of "thesis" or "ebook" has been entered into dc.type on an earlier page:

Automatically Omitted Fields

You may notice that some fields are automatically skipped when a custom form page is displayed, depending on the kind of item being submitted. This is because the DSpace user-interface engine skips Dublin Core fields which are not needed, according to the initial description of the item. For example, if the user indicates there are no alternate titles on the first "Describe" page (the one with a few checkboxes), the input for the title.alternative DC element is automatically omitted, even on custom submission pages.

When a user initiates a submission, DSpace first displays what we'll call the "initial-questions page". By default, it contains three questions with check-boxes:

  1. The item has more than one title, e.g. a translated title Controls title.alternative field.
  2. The item has been published or publicly distributed before Controls DC fields:
    • date.issued
    • publisher
    • identifier.citation
  3. The item consists of more than one file Does not affect any metadata input fields.

The answers to the first two questions control whether inputs for certain of the DC metadata fields will displayed, even if they are defined as fields in a custom page. Conversely, if the metadata fields controlled by a checkbox are not mentioned in the custom form, the checkbox is omitted from the initial page to avoid confusing or misleading the user.

The two relevant checkbox entries are "The item has more than one title, e.g. a translated title", and "The item has been published or publicly distributed before". The checkbox for multiple titles trigger the display of the field with dc-element equal to "title" and dc-qualifier equal to "alternative". If the controlling collection's form set does not contain this field, then the multiple titles question will not appear on the initial questions page.

Configuring Controlled Vocabularies

DSpace now supports controlled vocabularies to confine the set of keywords that users can use while describing items. The need for a limited set of keywords is important since it eliminates the ambiguity of a free description system, consequently simplifying the task of finding specific items of information. The controlled vocabulary allows the user to choose from a defined set of keywords organised in an tree (taxonomy) and then use these keywords to describe items while they are being submitted.

The taxonomies are described in XML following this (very simple) structure:

You are free to use any application you want to create your controlled vocabularies. A simple text editor should be enough for small projects. Bigger projects will require more complex tools. You may use Protegé to create your taxonomies, save them as OWL and then use a XML Stylesheet (XSLT) to transform your documents to the appropriate format. Future enhancements to this add-on should make it compatible with standard schemas such as OWL or RDF.

New vocabularies should be placed in [dspace]/config/controlled-vocabularies/ and must be according to the structure described.

Vocabularies need to be associated with the correspondant DC metadata fields. Edit the file [dspace]/config/input-forms.xml and place a "vocabulary" tag under the "field" element that you want to control. Set value of the "vocabulary" element to the name of the file that contains the vocabulary, leaving out the extension (the add-on will only load files with extension "*.xml"). For example:

The vocabulary element has an optional boolean attribute closed that can be used to force input only with the Javascript of controlled-vocabulary add-on. The default behaviour (i.e. without this attribute) is as set closed="false". This allow the user also to enter the value in free way.

The following vocabularies are currently available by default:

  • nsi - nsi.xml - The Norwegian Science Index
  • srscsrsc.xml - Swedish Research Subject Categories

Adding Value-Pairs

Finally, your custom form description needs to define the "value pairs" for any fields with input types that refer to them. Do this by adding a value-pairs element to the contents of form-value-pairs. It has the following required attributes:

  • value-pairs-name – Name by which an input-type refers to this list.
  • dc-term – Qualified Dublin Core field for which this choice list is selecting a value. Each value-pairs element contains a sequence of pair sub-elements, each of which in turn contains two elements:
  • displayed-value – Name shown (on the web page) for the menu entry.
  • stored-value – Value stored in the DC element when this entry is chosen. Unlike the HTML select tag, there is no way to indicate one of the entries should be the default, so the first entry is always the default choice.
Example

Here is a menu of types of common identifiers:

It generates the following HTML, which results in the menu widget below. (Note that there is no way to indicate a default choice in the custom input XML, so it cannot generate the HTML SELECTED attribute to mark one of the options as a pre-selected default.)

Deploying Your Custom Forms

The DSpace web application only reads your custom form definitions when it starts up, so it is important to remember:

  • You must always restart Tomcat (or whatever servlet container you are using) for changes made to the input-forms.xml file take effect.

Any mistake in the syntax or semantics of the form definitions, such as poorly formed XML or a reference to a nonexistent field name, will cause a fatal error in the DSpace UI. The exception message (at the top of the stack trace in the dspace.log file) usually has a concise and helpful explanation of what went wrong. Don't forget to stop and restart the servlet container before testing your fix to a bug.

Configuring the File Upload step

The Upload step in the DSpace submission process has two configuration options which can be set with your [dspace]/config/dspace.cfg configuration file. They are as follows:

  • upload.max- The maximum size of a file (in bytes) that can be uploaded from the JSPUI (not applicable for the XMLUI). It defaults to 536870912 bytes (512MB). You may set this to -1 to disable any file size limitation.
    • Note: Increasing this value or setting to -1 does not guarantee that DSpace will be able to successfully upload larger files via the web, as large uploads depend on many other factors including bandwidth, web server settings, internet connection speed, etc.
  • webui.submit.upload.required - Whether or not all users are required to upload a file when they submit an item to DSpace. It defaults to 'true'. When set to 'false' users will see an option to skip the upload step when they submit a new item.

Creating new Submission Steps

First, a brief warning: Creating a new Submission Step requires some Java knowledge, and is therefore recommended to be undertaken by a Java programmer whenever possible

That being said, at a higher level, creating a new Submission Step requires the following (in this relative order):

  1. (Required) Create a new Step Processing class
    • This class must extend the abstract org.dspace.submit.AbstractProcessingStep class and implement all methods defined by that abstract class.
    • This class should be built in such a way that it can process the input gathered from either the XMLUI or JSPUI interface.
  2. (For steps using JSPUI) Create the JSPs to display the user interface. Create a new JSPUI "binding" class to initialize and call these JSPs.
    • Your JSPUI "binding" class must extend the abstract class org.dspace.app.webui.submit.JSPStep and implement all methods defined there. It's recommended to use one of the classes in org.dspace.app.webui.submit.step.* as a reference.
    • Any JSPs created should be loaded by calling the showJSP() method of the org.dspace.app.webui.submit.JSPStepManager class
    • If this step gathers information to be reviewed, you must also create a Review JSP which will display a read-only view of all data gathered during this step. The path to this JSP must be returned by your getReviewJSP() method. You will find examples of Review JSPs (named similar to review-[step].jsp) in the JSP submit/ directory.
  3. (For steps using XMLUI) Create an XMLUI "binding" Step Transformer which will generate the DRI XML which Manakin requires.
    • The Step Transformer must extend and implement all necessary methods within the abstract class org.dspace.app.xmlui.submission.AbstractSubmissionStep
    • It is useful to use the existing classes in org.dspace.app.xmlui.submission.submit.* as references
  4. (Required) Add a valid Step Definition to the item-submission.xmlconfiguration file.

Creating a Non-Interactive Step

Non-interactive steps are ones that have no user interface and only perform backend processing. You may find a need to create non-interactive steps which perform further processing of previously entered information.

To create a non-interactive step, do the following:

  1. Create the required Step Processing class, which extends the abstract org.dspace.submit.AbstractProcessingStep class. In this class add any processing which this step will perform.
  2. Add your non-interactive step to your item-submission.xml at the place where you wish this step to be called during the submission process. For example, if you want it to be called immediately after the existing 'Upload File' step, then place its configuration immediately after the configuration for that 'Upload File' step. The configuration should look similar to the following:

Note: Non-interactive steps will not appear in the Progress Bar! Therefore, your submitters will not even know they are there. However, because they are not visible to your users, you should make sure that your non-interactive step does not take a large amount of time to finish its processing and return control to the next step (otherwise there will be a visible time delay in the user interface).

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2 Comments

  1. In section Item type Based Metadata Collection, there should be a notice about the visibility and required's behaviour:

    - about visibility: it will be honored. This means that the field will be displayed based on dc.type's value and visibility scope.

    - about required: the field will be required only when it was visible (depending on dc.type's value and visibility scope)

  2. Reportedly, non-dc value pairs can be defined with the following structure:  <schema>_<element>[_<qualifier>]

    Example value pairs open tag:

    <value-pairs value-pairs-name="myschema_author_ghostwriter" dc-term="author">

    Add to section: Adding Value-Pairs.