PHP is great. This quote which appears, ironically, on ASP.net explains why in a nutshell:
“I think PHP is great if you don’t wanna spent alot of time and ENERGY to become a web developer and still have some power”
Now, the literature indexing is built partly with PHP for this very reason. I am not a programmer but I want to program and I want to do it quickly because it’s just a means to an end i.e. building an index. Whether that’s an index of data from articles, CIFs, catalogs etc. is immaterial with PHP. So, it seems to me that for librarians or information professionals wherever, this is a great tool and you dont have to have any extra money (PHP is free as is the Apache webserver). Just determination and constant access to this resource: php.net .
Of course, ChemSpider is .NET and so this can create some difficulties whenever something indexed by me has to be implemented at ChemSpider.com and I rarely have any idea what they are talking about when I hear words like SQL Server and so on. On the whole though, I am increasingly using a combination of free and came-with-my-computer-Microsoft tools. e.g. the indexing runs on a WAMP server.
Snippets of the indexing code include just basic commands e.g. this for matching all URLs on a page including “/catalog/”.
preg_match_all(”@/catalog/[^\"]+@”, $get, $outurls);
So, what does this mean for chemistry libraries. Well, having someone at your library with this knowhow is a must. Indexing and organising literature and more effectively complementing it with data indexed from the WWW can help a library to make up for the fact that it cannot afford all the subscriptions it would like. And, in an era where these once complex, labour intensive and expensive activities are now free and dynamic, even the smallest library can use this to its advantage. You’re not getting any more money in your budget and your subscriptions aren’t getting any cheaper? … well the solution is still free.Stumble it!