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So you want to preserve that MSWord novel, those spreadsheets, those AppleWorks fieldnotes forever?

The National Archives of Australia are ahead of you - they've developed free and open source software to help in the long term preservation of digital records. Xena! (XML Electronic Normalising for Archives - and I bet they thought hard to come up with the N).

I saw a demo of Xena a couple of years ago, and was greatly impressed by the potential of streamlining the workflow in digital text archives - by detecting the file formats of digital objects, and then converting them into open formats like XML for preservation. Databases remain the nightmare of course.

Anyway, there's a new release - and here are the details.

From Michael Carden
Sent: Monday, 24 September 2007 9:26 AM
To: Digital Repositories Special Interest Group
Subject: [Drsig] National Archives of Australia releases Xena 4.0

Our Xena digital preservation software is a free and open source tool
for digital preservation. Xena may be used as a desktop application or
(more commonly) via its application programming interface to perform its
two key tasks from within other digital preservation workflows. Xena is
designed to:

* Determine file formats
* Convert files into standards based, open formats for preservation

Key new features in the 4.0 release of Xena are:

* Export facility (un-Xenafy) is now available through the viewer
interface
* Audio plugin is now included by default
* Image file metadata is now extracted from image headers
* Archive plugin (zip, bzip, gzip etc) is now included

Please take a look at the new Xena website
and download your copy, then let us know what you think.

[And for more on digital archives, see the APSR blog]

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The Transient Building, symbolising the impermanence of language, houses both the Linguistics Department at Sydney University and PARADISEC, a digital archive for endangered Pacific languages and music.
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