Last Thursday, Johns Hopkins University Libraries went live with the Ümlaut (Ü2). This comes slightly less than four weeks after Georgia Tech took theirs down (although they were using the much more duct tape and bailing wire version 1), and it’s nice to see a library back in the land of Röck Döts.
Ü2 shares very little except superficially with the original Ümlaut, and I owe Jonathan Rochkind a lot for getting it to this level. It’s an interesting dynamic between us (as anybody who has spent a minute in #code4lib in the last eight months knows) that seems to work pretty well. It would be nice to expand the community beyond just us, though. It’s pretty likely that the Ümlaut will work its way into Talis’ product suite in some form or another, so that would probably draw some people in, but it would be nice to see more SFX (or other link resolvers) customers join the party.
This isn’t to say that JHÜmlaut doesn’t need some work. In fact, there’s something really wrong with it: it’s taking way too long to resolve (Georgia Tech’s was about twice as fast, although probably with a lighter load). If I were to guess I would assume that the SFX API is the culprit; when GT’s was performing similarly, there was a bug in the OCLC Resolver Registry lookup that was causing two SFX requests per Ümlaut request (it wasn’t recognizing that it was duplicating). This isn’t the case with JHU (not only did Jonathan remove the OCLC Registry feature, it wouldn’t be affecting me, sitting at home in Atlanta, anyway).
Performance was one of the reasons GT’s relationship soured with the Ümlaut (an unfortunate bout of downtime after I left was the biggie, I think, though), so I hope we can iron this out before JHU starts getting disillusioned. Thankfully, they didn’t have the huge EBSCO bug that afflicted GT on launch.
JHU has the advantage of GT’s learning curve, so hopefully we can circumvent these sorts of problems. It’s still got to get faster, though.
Still, I’m happy. It’s good and refreshing to see the Ümlaut back in action.