OF The Web - A framework for providing web previews and versions of all kinds of files
Switch branches/tags
Nothing to show
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Failed to load latest commit information.


OF the web (otw)

This project aims to bring together an extensible set of tools for creating web-ready views of all kinds of files. The idea is that everything should not only have the opportunity to be ON the web but should also be able to be OF the web - that is, available in HTML, or wrapped in HTML, with as much rich machine readable metadata as possible.

If you are running on Linux then you can use the inotify system to watch for file system changes if not this just repeatedly scans a set of paths, with no waiting or other niceties.

It contains:

  • A file-watching framework that can monitor directories and automatically create web-ready content.

  • A set of plugins. The first commit has a markdown converter which uses Pandoc, a Word document converter is coming very soon.

Protocol for generated files ** WARNING ** work in progress will almost certainly change

Plugins generate new directories alongside existing files. So if you have a file like:


Then the system will generate a set of web-ready files alongside it:

     #A preview or rendition of the file with human AND machine readable metadata. 
     # For document files like Markdown or docx this will be an actual HTML Document
     # For things like images it will be a table of EXIF metadata and a preview
            /meta.json-ld #Metadata in JSON-LD format for convenience
            /eotx.txt #Not implemented yet will contain info about what 
                       generated this file  

We did consider using the bagit spec for this, but these things are designed to be easy for people to use and bagit would introduce one too many levels of directory nesting as all the content has to go in a data directory.


These instructions are for Ubuntu and at this stage we are assuming you know your way around the commandline, where to put bits of code etc.

  • Check it out from github

    cd /opt/

    sudo mkdir otw

    sudo chown $USER:$USER eotw

    git clone https://github.com/uws-eresearch/otw.git

  • Install the dependencies (pyinotify is Linux only)

    sudo easy_install yapsy pyinotify

  • For each of the plugins you're going to use, install their dependecies. For the example pandoc markdown converter

    sudo apt-get install pandoc

    or (better) install Pandoc via cabal and set your path to include ~/.cabal/bin (see the Pandoc site)

  • Copy the sample config file to make your own:

    cp dispatcher-config.json.sample dispatcher-config.json

  • Edit the sample congfig file to tell the dispatcher which directories to watch. That is, change the entry for Watchdirs to an array of one or more paths to watch.

    • "PreferDataURIs" : true will try to save images as data URIs rather than separate files

Add plugins

A pluging for OF The Web consists of (at least) two files, a plugin info file with the extension .epsy-plugin and a python file (.py).

Out of the box, the system will look in the plugins/ directory for conversion plugins that format files into HTML.

A simple way to get started is to copy the whole directory:

  • cp -r /opt/otw/potential-plugins /opt/otw/plugins

Currently ships with these plugins:

  • PandocConverterPlugin.py requires Pandoc, converts markdown files to HTML (without any embedded metadata ATM)
  • ImageConverterPlugin.py requires Exiftool, extracts EXIF metadata from images and creates a human and machine readable table, as well as an image preview. Uses data-uris to embed the image preview in index.html so extra images don't pollute people's image libaries, this should make it safe to run on image collections that might be being 'watched' by the likes of Picasa. Currently very much an alpha, still trying to work out how to model the RDF etc, has rudimentary, very bad unit tests.
  • ABFConverterPlugin requires Neo and Dominate, presents a breakdown of the contents of ABF files in HTML form.
  • Extra: There is an office document converter that run on word processing documents in this project: https://code.google.com/p/jischtml5/ Assuming you install it, add it to your plugins like so:
    • Add this to your dispatcher-config.json pluginPaths array "/opt/jischtml5/tools/commandline"


From Python

There will be more options for running this toolkit in future, but for now, run it like so:

  • python dispatcher.py dispatcher-config.json

As a service

  • To run the dispatcher init script in /opt/otw/dispatcher.rc install realpath:
apt-get install realpath
  • Add dispatcher.rc to your system boot init script.
ln -s /opt/otw/dispatcher.rc /etc/init.d/dispatcher
update-rc.d dispatcher defaults

dispatcher writes its PID into /opt/otw/dispatcher.pid. If you need this in another place, such as /var/run/, you will need to edit dispatcher.rc