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In this project we will extend the Sakai open source and open standards portal framework. It will host a number of integrated tools and robust distributed services and become the principal user interface for a fully-functional Virtual Research Environment (VRE). To accomplish this, we will seek widespread community input to expose existing tools and services as Java portlets, SOAP-based or peer-to-peer Web services for use within the VRE. Using this approach, the project will create a long-lasting, maintainable and extensible VRE which will provide both reliable collaboration tools, together with a powerful distributed research toolset. Some of the VRE tools and services we want to expose are UK adaptations of those directly available from Sakai and OGCE, the US NMI portal. Others are to be achieved in association with a UK community of VRE users. This project aims to address the requirement for a single point of access to a comprehensive set of Grid and collaboration services in a VRE. To achieve this we have identified, in extensive discussions with the US developers, four areas of framework extension for which the partner sites will take individual reponsibility: Identification, or specification, of an XML grammar for describing collaborative research (Lancaster); A Service Authentication and Authorisation System (Oxford); A JSF-based Web service interface generator (Daresbury); Interface to Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Tools (Portsmouth). These extensions will permit the integration of a wide range of tools, some as part of the Sakai application (using the Java standard JSR-168) and others interfacing to remote services (using a JSF Web service interface or XML standard for remote portlets WSRP). The main benefit of this VRE will be the ease of access to powerful distributed Grid and collaboration tools consistently from one interface. The success of this strategy will be determined by the VRE's level of use. The ease of deployment and integration of tools will also be assessed. Three metrics are proposed to help evaluate the success of the VRE for end users. The first is a single user metric and involves basic log analysis to determine the number of hits per day, measured over the final month of the project. The second involves counting the number of user created worksites and applying a weighting based on the number of users added to the worksite. The third is a collaboration metric and will involve determining the average number of simultaneous users in a Sakai worksite, again averaged out over the final month. Project start date: 2005-02-01. Project end date: 2007-01-31. (Excerpt from this source)
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