Meeting time: 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm   

Place:         Manning Hall 214



ATTENDANCE: Evelyn Daniel, Jane Greenberg, David Knight, Mary Ruvane, Stephen Seiberling, Plato Smith.



Plato Smith, a potential new member of the Openkey project, introduced himself to the team.  He is a first year PhD candidate at SILS and a Library Fellow with NC State University.  His research interests are in the field of metadata.  He is also currently working on a PDA field usage project in the College of Veterinary Medicine at NC State. 



Mary presented a revised version of UNC’s Openkey project web site which is currently located at  Key changes include a revised layout and color scheme, a new page with staff photos and contact information, as well links to a project calendar indicating upcoming meetings and related events. 


Action Items:

1.     David and Plato will send digital photos of themselves to Mary for inclusion in the new site.


Items pending:

1.     Modifications to HTML formatting to insure site is compatible with web browser software other than Internet Explorer (e.g., Netscape).  -- Mary

2.     Relocation of final version to ibiblio server. -- Mary



Mary gave an overview of the Institute of Museum and Library Science's requirements regarding cost sharing documentation.  As a condition of the grant, UNC committed to paying a portion of the salary and benefits for Jane, Evelyn and Peter, as well to share the costs of travel, supplies, and equipment throughout the project’s time period.   Salary and benefits documentation is nearly complete, with the exception of Peter White.  Team members were asked to keep track of materials, equipment or travel expenses that UNC pays for, that incidentally benefit the Openkey project initiatives.  Examples include: Trips to conferences paid for by your department that add to our teams knowledge in support of the Openkey objectives; monthly use of department supplies (e.g., copy paper, film, etc.); computer equipment purchased by UNC that is dedicated in part, or whole, in the pursuit of the IMLS grant objectives.


Action Item:

1.     Determine if existing computer equipment can qualify as a UNC cost sharing expense if used primarily for the benefit of Openkey project tasks.  -- Mary



Steve presented an updated conceptual table, replacing v1.0, in which many terms were added, especially new character states deemed important to the identification process. Modifications presented were based on input from Ken Robertson, Lesley Deem, Steve Seiberling, and Alan Weakley.   According to Steve, the expanded table gets somewhat complicated when dealing with groupings related to “Flowers/Cones” and “Fruits/Cones/Seeds” warranting further review before finalizing.  To view the revised table see (Note: items added are highlighted in blue):


Action Items:

1.     Review of v1.1 to address Steve's concerns (see attached "Current Questions Related to the OpenKey Project"); implement revisions – Steve/Peter/Alan

2.     Submit revised version to Urbana for feedback – Steve

3.     Determine tree list to work with – Steve/Evelyn/Peter


Items pending:

1.     Revisions to DTD's based on conceptual table modifications (after review by Alan, Peter & Urbana) – David / Steve to notify upon completion

2.     Resolve versioning issue between Urbana (v1.6) and UNC (v1.1) - TBD



A brief discussion was had concerning the selection of plants to include as part of UNC's obligation to provide data for one of the two agreed upon polyclave keys.  The ultimate decision lies in the hands of the botanical experts, therefore a final decision was tabled until Peter White could provide his input.  Steve suggested that some of the non-native NC species, listed in the original grant proposal, might be a problem. Evelyn proposed that strong consideration be given to those species already documented in prior work, such as the Plant Information Center [PIC], or at least selected from plants already photographed and documented by Steve,.  P perhaps focusing on common trees found in NC.  She argued that one species from each of several common genera will give us a better chance of success with novice identification than selecting a cluster of species within a genus.


This is another topic related to Action item 3 above. As for the level of rankings to use for the Openkey project, Evelyn suggested we include family and species, noting that the other rank categories are unnecessary to the project deliverables, especially when considering the costs for input, plant descriptions, documentation and related photographs.  Evelyn asked ifs a continuum scale could be used to represent various description features as an alternative\


Action item to be added.  Steve was going to talk to Peter about this and get his decision.  (see way forward below too).



Steve reported that the gymnosperm key has been resolved and can be viewed at  While all of the pine species have yet to be illustrated, the hardest part (the structure of the key) is now complete.  Steve is currently using a's uses of trichotomous key with the pines.trees were recognized as a good idea.  Of interest, Steve noted that Alan Weakley has been involved in developing keys most of his life (that actually work for people) and may be interested in writing a paper on the topic in collaboration with  with Steve's help.


Action Items:

1.     Steve's email and contact information need to be added to the site – Steve

Items pending:

1.     Term definitions, not currently included in the PIC glossary, need to be identified and an appropriate source selected for providing descriptions. –- Botanists/TBD

2.     New definitions identified in item #1 need to be added to PIC glossary.  -– Steve/Mary

3.     New definitions need to be linked from Gymnosperm Key to the PIC Glossary. – Steve

4.     Further discussion on how to display information, in various medias, may need to be explored (e.g., resolution issues – large vs. small screen, print formats, etc.) 



Jane reported that she and Steve are making have made great progress towards developing a document outlining the projects architecture (data structure/XML requirements).  They have completed a 19 page draft [user/password: plants/plants], that includes XML structures and examples. The project architecture is broken down into three parts: 1) Taxon DTD, 2) Character states DTD (from conceptual table), 3) Images—all of which can be represented via a DTD.  David, Jane, and Bryan are exploring XMLS too (XML Schema).  The fourth section, documenting the 'linking' DTD is pending. 


Methods of retrieval were next discussed, including XSL (a method for turning XML into a web accessible form), and questions concerning whether a separate database was needed or does XSL provide a method for search and retrieval without one.  Additional questions arose regarding: 1) Which search engines work best? 2) Are we in charge of storing data or is that Urbana's role? 3) Is OAI (Open Architecture Initiative) still under consideration? 4) Could Urbana's existing search engine, used in Brian's butterfly project, provide a solution?  A new “Project Archtiecture” team was formed, consisting of Jane, Plato and David, to address these issues and report on their findings at the next meeting.


Action Items:

1.     Review Urbana's BIBE butterfly system site and report findings; contact Bryian for source code if needed – .  Provide a tutorial on use of sxml as potential substitute for dbms at next OpenKey meeting - Plato/David

2.     Consult with staff and Stephanie Haas on recommendations for XML or DBMS retrieval tools --

3.     Consult with Steve Seiberling, as needed, for examples



For next meeting the following items and objectives have been identified:

1) Present an XML tutorial/overview for the team to have a better understanding of the methodology

23) 'Architectural Team' presentation of findings and recommendations

3) Report on Peter’s decisions for plants to represent in UNC’s polyclave key.

42) Discuss members to be included in the Advisory Board.  We need to also discuss what we want the advisory board to do before identifying people, and also consider when we can realistically meet w/them.  It would be good to consider virtual members.



Current Questions Related to the OpenKey Project – Steve’s List??




1.  What list of trees to we wish to include in the project?  (Evelyn and Peter have expressed somewhat different ideas about this.)  Some of the trees on the current list are non-native or do not occur in NC.  Do we want to include any of these species?


2.  Should we use the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) numbers for the Global ID Number in the OpenKey database?  (For information about ITIS numbers see


3.  Do we wish to include any taxonomic information above species level in the database?  (Perhaps family would be valuable.)  If so, how should we record it?


4.  Is it O.K. to include surface features of woody plant twigs along with those of herbaceous stems as the same character; e.g. Stem or Twig (diameter < 1 cm) Surface Features?


5.  Can we include modifying terms such as narrowly, finely broadly, etc., in recording character states; e.g. leaf margins finely serrulate?


6.  How should we record ranges of qualitative character sates in the database; e.g. leaf base cordate to truncate?  Similarly, how should we record quantitative information expressed only as an upper limit; e.g. plant height to 46 m?


7.  Do we like the current groupings of Flowers/Cones and Fruits/Cones/Seeds?  An alternative might be to simply break these into four separate groupings of Flowers, Cones, Fruits, and Seeds.  The later approach avoids having to split up the characters for cones into two groupings, one for juvenile states and the other mature states.


8.  Please see other modifications to the Conceptual Table of Plant Description Elements which can be found at:


All changes made since the previous version are shown in blue.