Before I provide a quick update on the status of the web demo for my MusicXML digital library delivery mock-up, it goes without saying that I haven't been bloggin per my original intent. That is to say, the initial idea of writing my paper with a modular approach fed by blog posts, has essentially been scrapped. The idea of it all seemed a bit too piece-meal to me. Instead, I'll write the paper and post it in its entirety when it's been written.
As for the web demo, it's more or less completed from a programming p.o.v at this point, but there are a few things I want to mention:
- The software has a name in MXMLiszt, i.e. "MusicXML List". It's pronounced "maximalist" and happily references my favorite composer in the process.
- It should run "out of the box" (after you install all dependencies) on Windows servers running XAMPP or at least an Apache installation on a Windows server with the same folder configuration as XAMPP.
- It will utilize open-source software only, with the ironic exception of the OS.
- MXMLiszt will be released with a BSD license approximately 6-8 weeks from now after the documentation is complete and my paper is finished.
Eventually, I'll port MXMLiszt to Linux (in all likelihood for Ubuntu specifically), but that will entail some work I'm not willing to be distracted by just yet. With Linux, I'll have more homework to do before I can distribute it and ask people to expect it to work.
Other problems are finding a server to support MXMLiszt. Given all the software requirements and that I *do not* want to have to rearrange – for either a Windows or Linux server – all the paths to the various executable I utilize and – for Linux hosting – the fact that I can't control what Linux distro a web hosting company offers, I have only two options:
- Use my own laptop as a server. The downside of this is that I can't leave it on 24/7. I'll only be able to offer it from roughly 9-5 EST Mon-Fri since I'll need my computer to rest and/or be available for personal use while I'm home.
- Run MXMLiszt from a Virtual Private Server (VPS) – i.e. instead of a typical web hosting plan, I'll rent out a virtual machine running Windows from a hosting provider. This gives me total control of the VM and I don't have to make compromises and/or rearrange folders and paths to executables, etc.
I've decided to go with the 2nd option for now using KickAssVPS. I'll report back how that works out, but I want to close with the economic dilemma all this presents.
It's roughly $35 a month to have a Windows VPS with KickAssVPS. And that's on the low end of VPS pricing. That's not that expensive but when one factors in that for that rate I could finance a brand-new really high end laptop, I have to ask myself "Why not just use my current low-end Dell laptop as a server and use the $35 bucks a month to get a really nice laptop?".
Good question. For now I'll try the VPS, but I have a feeling that my narcissistic need to control everything will lead me back to running a server from home. And I think in the end I just won't be able to justify the cost of renting (VPS) vs. renting to own (financing a new laptop).
If you're asking "Why get an expensive laptop? Why not get a really cheap one or better yet a used headless server?"
Well, my friend, it doesn't get much cheaper than my Dell Vostro. If I buy a low-end laptop, it'll end up being comparable in price and specs to my Dell. It doesn't make much sense to essentially have two of the same thing. As for headless servers, that would be better from the p.o.v. of running a server 24/7 but I'd need a monitor at some point and I don't want to get into buying more peripherals …
… unless someone can tell me how to remotely control a headless server from a laptop without *ever* needing a monitor for the headless.
This blog post is part of a semester-long investigation into digital encoding of symbolic music representation (SMR), its context in libraries, web-based delivery, preservation and metadata, and search and retrieval technologies.