MIXED contributes to digital preservation by dealing with the problem of file formats. Over time, file formats become obsolete. When that happens, the information in such file types is no longer accessible. MIXED follows the strategy of converting files to XML as soon as possible, preferably when data is ingested into an archive, such as DANS. MIXED also converts these XML files to formats of choice by the archive user.
MIXED is to be used in the DANS ingest and dissemination workflow, but it is public software. Parts of it are already published in Open Source Repositories, and other parts will follow.
MIXED is a contribution by DANS to practices that implement digital preservation. While the MIXED project is limited to tabular data and a limited number of file formats, it aims to collect the best practices in file format conversion. This expanding set of high quality file conversions will then be usable by the digital archiving community as a whole.
Read a bit more in the factsheet, or much more about the MIXED scenario of long term preservation in the white paper, both included as attachments to this page.
During the MIXED project we held an expert workshop about the future course of MIXED and its results. A condensed report is attached to this page.
When the MIXED project was initiated, two main approaches were being pursued to solve the problem of reduced accessibility of data in old file formats. One of them was emulation, into which the Royal Library has put a lot of effort. The other one was migration, which is less innovative and more widely spread. While emulation has the promise of perfect rendering of data by means of the original applications, it does not solve, by itself, the problem of making that data accessible to new applications, in new aggregations, spanning many years. At the same time, migration was being felt as cumbersome, error-prone, and always ad-hoc, never reaching a mature stage. So migration could do with some additional innovation. The National Archives of the Netherlands conducted a "testbed" to explore the merits of converting materials to application neutral XML formats.
This approach solves or alleviates two problems of ordinary migration: (a) it diminishes the need for repeated migrations considerably, because it migrates out of the version sequence of application-bound file formats; (b) it facilitates interoperability of data that has been created in different file formats, because they all will be translated into application independent XML.
MIXED was undertaken to create migrations from application formats to intermediate XML (and back), and put these migrations to use in the DANS archive. MIXED is restricted to tabular data: spreadsheets and databases.
See the references page for links to the background of MIXED and further reading.
2011-04-12 Migration to Intermediate XML for Electronic Data (MIXED): Repository of Durable File Format Conversions. René van Horik and Dirk Roorda. Article accepted by the International Journal of Digital Curation. To be published medio 2011.
2010-11-12 eResearch Australasia, Gold Coast, Australia. René van Horik. Slot. Article (local copy). Presentation (local copy).
2010-10-07 Workshop Pérennisation des Informations Numérique, CINES, Paris, France. René van Horik.
2009-12-02 The 5th International Digital Curation Conference, London, UK. Dirk Roorda. Poster (local copy). 1-minute presentation (local copy).
2009-10-06 iPres, San Francisco, US. René van Horik. Full paper (local copy). Presentation (local copy).
2008-05-28 IASSIST, Stanford, US. Workshop: DDI and Related Tools. René van Horik.
2007-10-11 iPres, Beijng, China. Dirk Roorda. Local copy attached to this page.
2007-09-13 Open Data Foundation Meeting, San Francisco. René van Horik, Kris Klykens.
2007-03-23 International Workshop on Database Preservation, Edinburgh, UK. Dirk Roorda. Local copy of position paper and slides attached to this page.