[Yazlist] Newbie questions: Client Application

Finston, Laurence Laurence.Finston at iwf.de
Fri Jul 14 10:29:48 CEST 2006



I've recently started working on a client application that reads data from a Z39.50 interface and writes it to a database.  It involves a lot of issues I hadn't run across before, so I'd be very grateful for any help or advice.


I'm using Visual C++ .NET for the application and Microsoft SQL Server 2003 for the database.  I'm using YAZ rather than YAZ+, because I wasn't able to get my application to build using the latter.  While I generally program in C++, I like C, too, so this doesn't bother me.


My impression so far is that the use of Z39.50 is extremely complex, and while there's a lot of information available, it's hard to find introductory material.  Could somebody point me to some?  In particular, I'm having a problem finding information about the PICA format used by the library system whose records I'm trying to read  (GBV = Gemeinsamer Bibliotheksverbund = Common Library Network in Germany).  I've been trying to find out the meaning of the numbers that designate the various fields in the records, but haven't been able to find a chart.  I'm also unclear about the function of the character octal 237 which appears frequently in the records.  Is it just a separator, is it the first character of a multi-byte sequence, or does it have some other purpose?  I haven't noticed any other non-ASCII characters, but they might be problematic, too.


So far, I haven't run across any information about what to do with the records once I've received them from the Z39.50 interface.  While I know how to write routines to parse text or binary data, I suppose other people have done this before.  Are there standard methods and/or tools for this purpose?  I'd rather not reinvent the wheel, if I don't have to.


I hope this final question isn't considered off-topic:  I've been wondering whether learning how to work with Z39.50 is a marketable skill.  It seems that it's still in use at many libraries all over the world, and it's so complex that you can't just learn it in an afternoon.  For the present, I'm just working on a client, but I may need to set up a server.  It would be nice to know that I was learning something that might lead to employment in the future.


Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions.


Laurence Finston

50 Jahre Medienservice für Lehre und Forschung



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