In a recent blog post, Gary McGath, JHOVE’s former developer and maintainer, questioned whether JHOVE maintenance had ceased. While this is not the case, he is right in pointing out that the Open Preservation Foundation’s resources are limited and that we have other commitments.
JHOVE is governed by a Product Board who meet once a month to guide development. JHOVE 1.12 (beta) was released in October 2015 focussing on the stabilization of the code base and ease of installation. The Foundation’s document interest group is documenting JHOVE error messages on the OPF wiki: http://wiki.opf-labs.org/display/Documents/JHOVE+issues+and+error+messages, creating a structured version of the information with error IDs and explanations.
The next release of JHOVE, originally planned for March 2016, will be version 1.14 and will feature the following new modules: ARC, WARC, GZIP and PNG, contributed by Foundation member the Royal Library of Denmark, and Gary McGath, respectively. These new modules can easily be incorporated into the software, but they also require manual testing and supporting documentation. JHOVE is currently short on unit and integrations tests meaning this takes time and effort. We have three members of staff, I am the Foundation’s only development or testing resource and my time is limited.
Our work on veraPDF (the definitive open source PDF/A validator) has had to take priority in recent months. We receive funding from the PREFORMA project to develop the software and subcontract a remote development team that costs us money if I’m a bottleneck. Without veraPDF the Foundation does not have the resources to employ a full time developer from membership fees alone.
As Gary rightly reminded us, open source software may be free to download, use and distribute, but it is not free to host, develop or maintain.
There are many ways you can help and you don’t need to be a developer:
- Become an OPF member or software supporter – if you use JHOVE and want to see it maintained and improved, make a financial contribution to directly support the development and hosting costs.
- Join OPF members and supporters on the JHOVE Product Board – steer the development effort and help produce a roadmap.
- Download and test the software – provide feedback, write a blog on your experience, make suggestions for improvements.
- Help maintain and develop the software – offer technical support, bug fixes or enhancements.
- Improve user documentation – contribute corrections or new material.
We will continue to maintain and develop JHOVE, we plan to introduce automated integration and release testing. Some of our work on other projects, including veraPDF, will result in improvements to JHOVE over 2016. We will endeavour to post at least bi-monthly updates covering JHOVE activities and development efforts.