“The Ex Libris Cloud App framework of user-installable apps represents a significant advancement in the realm of major library software applications. This framework provides an elegant model of extensibility and interoperability so that institutions implementing the system can gain capabilities beyond the delivered product.”
That’s what Marshall Breeding wrote less than a year and a half ago in the Library Technology journal.
Now it is time to ask: Have Cloud Apps lived up to their potential?
In a word: Yes.
Cloud apps enable users and partners to be developers
With Cloud Apps, the user community of Ex Libris, part of Clarivate, as well as our partners independently develop original apps that can be launched directly from within products such as Alma library management system, Primo VE, Esploro, Leganto resource list management system and Rapido.
And develop them, they have.
More than 20 such apps, out of a total of 41, have been created and published by customers thus far. Over 6,200 Cloud Apps have been activated by 3,500 users in 615 institutions. The reception and adoption of Cloud Apps continues apace, with the apps being used thousands of times each month.
What are the most popular cloud apps?
The most activated apps are popular because they provide our customers new, practical and innovative functionalities, workflow shortcuts and integrations. Among them are:
- SpineOMatic Cloud App: The Cloud App-version of the popular spine label client program; supports designing templates and layouts.
- Bulk Scan In: Performs the scan-in operation on a file of barcodes.
- Print in Libstick: Integrates Alma with the LIBstick label printing service to generate physical items labels.
- HathiTrust Availability: Queries the HathiTrust API to look for availability for each displayed BIB record.
- Delete Your Sets: Enhances the existing Manage Sets admin page in Alma, allowing users to bulk delete Sets they have created.
- Print BIB Records: Supports quickly printing records from the repository search results.
- Appointment Scheduler: Provides an interface to schedule appointments or events for Alma users.
- Print Slip Report: An alternative to Alma’s built-in print slip report; you select which individual columns you want to print.
Cloud Apps provide a platform for collaboration
Cloud Apps are also a novel vector for collaboration, as exemplified in the following examples:
- At the height of the pandemic, the Australia/New Zealand Ex Libris Users Group organized a Cloud Apps hackathon, which resulted in the publishing of three apps addressing real-world challenges for users in institutions worldwide. (The hackathon organizers blogged about their experience on the Developer Network blog.)
- When the State Library of New South Wales wanted to integrate and automate their workflow between Alma and Adlib, their archival management software, the vendors worked together on a Cloud App to meet the library’s needs. (This story is documented in a white paper available for download.)
Cloud Apps save time and resources
Ever since the Cloud Apps feature was released, we and our customers have seen firsthand how it benefits developers, institutions and end users. Developers publish their apps to the Ex Libris cloud, avoiding the cost or trouble of hosting or maintaining hardware, institutions provide additional functionality and productivity optimizations, and end users – staff librarians and others – access the apps easily and directly from within the relevant Ex Libris product they’re using.
Get started with Cloud Apps
If you’re looking for more information on Cloud Apps or you want to jump right in and get cracking on some apps of your own, here are some links you’ll find helpful:
- The Cloud App page
- Getting Started with Cloud Apps
- How to enable Cloud Apps
- Documentation on the Developer Network
The promise of Cloud Apps has clearly been fulfilled. Looking ahead, I can’t wait to see what the creativity and ingenuity of our community will lead to next.
April 5, 2022