Sunday, 13 April 2008

Upgrading Repositories

Repository upgrades are a blessing to their users (better interface, better services, fewer bugs) but can be a worry to the technical support staff. The key issue is that while Version (n) = Version (n-1) + Upgrade + 1 hour or less it may be the case that LocalizedRepositoryVersion(n) = LocalizedRepositoryVersion (n-1) + Upgrade + 1 month or more.

When we released EPrints v3 last year, we knew that the fundamental rewrite needed to achieve such a big jump in terms of repository functionality was going to lead to a bigger upgrade effort. Although anyone starting off with an EPrints v3 repository found it easy to install, upgrading required a migration wizard to assist the process.

Having gone through all that, it was always our ambition that EPrints 3.1 would be a "trivial" upgrade process, and in fact that was part of the design objective for EPrints 3.0. Still, as the list of new features in EPrints 3.1 grew and grew, I began to worry about what this would mean for people who had to install it. But good news - we installed it on our main server last week and it took "less than an hour". Bear in mind that our main server runs EIGHT repositories from the same installation code, and so required eight sets of checks and configuration checks and tweaks.

(In case you're wondering, those eight repositories consist of four major repositories - the ECS school repository, the public EPrints demo repository, the public EPrints sofware distribution repository and the Cogprints research repository - and four experimental repositories used by minor projects and workshops.)

Based on this experience, we can say with some confidence that a single repository can be upgraded to version 3.1 in less than ten minutes. Of course, once you've upgraded you'll probably want to spend some considerable time playing around with the new facilities and configuration options, but that won't be the technical support guy's job. In EPrints 3.1 the repository configuration is all done by the repository manager, through the web interface.

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