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International Collaboration on EML-based Applications

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Spring 2006

- Chi-Wen Hsiao, Chien-Wen Chen and John Porter (VCR)

The Taiwan Ecological Research Network (TERN) is continuing its efforts to build Ecological Metadata Language (EML)-based systems for managing ecological data. It has engaged in several training exercises for investigators and technicians aimed at teaching them how to create EML documents. However, one of the principal questions they ask is "What do we gain by doing this?" For this reason we have focused efforts on developing some tools that use EML to create products of use to researchers. Initial efforts were aimed at data discovery, with the implementation of the METACAT system for Taiwan. Taiwan was the first LTER group worldwide to implement METACAT on a PC-based system and has also worked on resolving language and character-set issues. However, the sense is that researchers, especially those new to the concepts of ecoinformatics, want still more tools that exploit EML metadata in innovative and useful ways.

In Taiwan, the "Ecological Informatics Working Group" of TERN has developed several prototypes of tools. The first, building on the PTAH project (described elsewhere in this issue), was to develop a Chinese language interface to the programs for creating "R", SAS and SPSS programs. The interface allows researchers to use EML Metadata to create statistical program using the original PTAH engine located at the University of Virginia.

Subsequently, the TERN team has rewritten the PTAH engine to work on a PC-based system (the original system was UNIX-based) and extended the capabilities of the transformation tools. In particular, Chi-Wen Hsiao developed a prototype server-side system that allows researchers to access EML, upload data and then run "R" code on the server, so that researchers need not have their own copy of "R".

TERN Ecological Informatics Working Group member Chien-Wen Chen is currently on an extended visit to the VCR/LTER to collaborate with John Porter on development of sensor systems. Plans are in place for his colleagues Meei-ru Jeng and Chi-Wen Hsiao to visit later in the year to continue work on collaboration on future tool development.