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Prism Domain Name Migration – Updating Links

As part of the migration away from all links contained within the Prism theme or on external websites linking through to Prism tenancies need to be updated to point to

We have recently identified that there are several different places where the address continues to be used:

  • Juice extensions
  • External web sites such as council or University homepages
  • Prism 3 themes in headerlinks or prepared searches
  • Monitoring tools

If links are being amended from within the Prism theme then they should use relative URLs – this allows the theme to be copied between the live and sandbox tenancies without the need to update any of the links.  Shown below are examples of both absolute and relative URLs.

Absolute URL (please refrain from using)
<a href=””><img src=”” alt=”” /></a>

Relative URL
<a href=”items/158168?query=hobbit&resultsUri=items%3Fquery%3Dhobbit”><img src=”items/158168/image-small” alt=”” /></a>

Prism Domain Name Transition

I’m pleased to announce that your Prism tenancies are now accessible on the new domain name:, in addition to

Why a new domain name?

Following the acquisition of Talis by Capita in 2011 and further to recent communications, the Prism domain name is changing to  We plan to run the two domain names in parallel over the next eight months to allow plenty of time to complete the changes described below.

If you have your own domain name for Prism, that name will not change and there is no impact on it.

Going forward, to preview new releases of Prism please use the URL:  This will be reiterated when the release preview is announced.

Transition Plan

The two domain names will run in parallel over the next eight months.

In May, with the next release of Prism the old domain name will become a silent redirect to the new domain.

In July, the release of Prism will contain a ‘noisy’ redirect – a page will be displayed for a few seconds telling the user they are being redirected and that they should update their bookmarks and any other saved links and rss feeds, and then it will automatically redirect to the new URL.

The redirect will become progressively noisier throughout the year to encourage users to update their bookmarks.

We recommend that you fully complete your switch over to the new domain before the end of December 2013, in order to ensure that you are not impacted when the domain is no longer available.

What do you need to do?

You should begin now to change any places where the old domain name is used, replacing it with You should also prepare your communication with your library users about the change.

Starting now, you should identify any places where your library provides links into Prism, and change the domain name in the link URL from to When you add a new Prism link anywhere from now on you should use the new domain name

The places where you may have links that need to change include:

  • Prism home page, footer, and other pages
  • Library website pages, including subject resource lists
  • Reading list system
  • Student portal
  • Virtual Learning Environment
  • RSS feed readers
  • Facebook
  • Blogs
  • Video sites such as Youtube
  • Applications built using the Prism Linked Data API

Types of links that need to be changed include:

  • The Prism search box widget
  • Links to the catalogue and the login page
  • Prepared searches
  • Links to specific items
  • RSS feed reads

Changing your links now will mean that they will not be affected by the redirects or the eventual withdrawal of the old domain name.

You should also check your Prism extensions to ensure they work on both old and new URLs. Google Maps will need a new key to work on your new Prism URL. To enable Google Maps to work on both old and new URLs you will need a modification to the Prism extension to detect the URL and use the appropriate key. See the Google documentation on Obtaining an API Key.

Other extensions that use third party services may have similar issues. If you would like assistance in modifying extensions to work with the new domain name, or if you use  ‘In-Page Analytics’ in Google Analytics, please open a support case.

On your OPAC terminals in the library if external access is restricted then you may find that the new domain is blocked, so you may need to get changes made to allow the new domain.

If you have any questions or issues about the Prism domain name transition, please contact your account manager or open a support case.



Admin Console Release – 26th March 2013

I’m pleased to announce that the Admin Console refresh that we have been previewing in recent webinars has now been released into the live service.

This release is primarily to support the migration to Capita Infrastructure, ensuring a seamless transition as tenancies are migrated. While we’ve aimed for feature-parity with the previous Admin Console, we’ve also taken the time to add a few new features:

  • Account settings section to change password and enable optional two-step verification for accounts
  • Context-sensitive help

New account settings

The Admin Console refresh has a new “Account settings” section where you can change your password, enable two-step verification and register your email address. We will be gradually expanding this area in upcoming releases to support sub-accounts and access control lists to restrict users to certain functions.

To further increase the security of your accounts, you may now opt-in to two-step verification. This uses a mobile application to generate a 6-digit code that must be supplied when logging in. There are several apps available for smartphones, including:

To opt-in, go to the “Account settings” section and click on the “Change” link next for “Two step verification”:

Enabling two-step verification

This will open a wizard that will guide you through setting up your account, and authentication device. A backup code is also provided to allow access to your account in the event of a lost phone or device.

Context sensitive help

We’ve gone through the different sections of the Admin Console and ensured that there is explanatory text available, where required, to help guide you through some of the more complex configuration options.

Context sensitive help bubble

In addition to this, we’re producing several introductory videos focusing on specific areas and tasks within the Admin Console. We’ll post some more information when these are available.

We welcome your comments, questions and ideas on Admin Console features. You can post comments here on the blog, discuss topics in the Prism forum, raise, discuss and vote on ideas in Prism Ideas or contact your Account Manager.

Prism 3 Release Preview – 11 February 2011

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve just released the latest version of Talis Prism 3 for everyone to preview. This is a big release with lots of great new features, the most notable are:

  • View loan history (beta)
  • “My Account” redesign
  • Choice of jacket image supplier
  • Linked data API
  • New breadcrumb trail
  • Display of “in transit” items
  • An alternative to “no image available”

We’ve also undertaken some “under the bonnet” work to support a lot of exciting developments we’ve got planned for the next year and beyond.

This release also contains some other changes and a small fix:

  • Additional fields included on the feedback page
  • Year facet is now sorted in descending order
  • Fix for a bug in the facet system where values with no corresponding results in a search were being displayed

My Account/View Loan History

The most visible change in this release is the “My Account” redesign that Matt blogged about in December. The new design splits different pieces of data into their own sections and simplifies some of the most common workflows we’ve identified analysing log files. A very common operation is renewing all loans, which is now possible in a single click with the “Renew all” button.

We’ve also looked at the data displayed to users and made a few tweaks, including humanised dates and displaying ILL statuses as text descriptions rather than code numbers.

A new section has been added to allow users to view a history of their past loans; these can be paged through and sorted by title, author or date borrowed. We’ve also added book jackets to serve as a visual “aide memoire” when browsing the list.

Developing Loan History has required a new release of “Local Data Services” (LDS) so we’re going to BETA test it with a handful of customers to ensure everything is working before performing a full rollout. Once the new version of LDS goes to general release and your system is upgraded, Prism 3 will start showing the “Loan History” tab.

Choice of jacket image supplier/Alternative to “no image available”

To increase the coverage for jacket images, we’ve been talking with several providers to augment the current offering. We’re in the final stages of these conversations at the moment and as soon as they are concluded we can enable them with the work we’ve undertaken.

In tandem with this effort, we devoted effort to an idea posted by City of London libraries on Talis Library Ideas: An alternative to the default “No Image Available”. It’s now possible to upload your own images that will be displayed if no cover image can be found. These need to be a particular size and named in a certain way so that we can detect that you’ve uploaded them:

The files should be named




where [ext] is one of gif, png or jpg, e.g. no-image-small.jpg. We suggest keeping the size of the small image at 75×100 pixels, and the medium at 150×200 pixels.

These files can then be uploaded using the Talis Admin Console.

Linked data API

Allowing greater access to the curated data in your catalogues was a central reason for developing the Linked Data API and with this release you can now surface search results and item pages in a variety of machine-readable formats. The API will also allow richer extensions that are able to tap into more of the underlying data that drives Prism 3.

To view search results as RSS 1.0, you need to add .rss to the end of “/items”, e.g.:

Any search can be surfaced in this way, so you could provide RSS feeds of new releases in particular genres; your users can then subscribe to these, allowing them to be informed when something they may be interested in borrowing becomes available.

The RSS icon now also appears in the browser address bar on every search results page; users can click this to capture their search as an RSS feed, allowing them to monitor updates to those results.

The RSS icon in Firefox

The RSS icon in Firefox

The RSS icon in Internet Explorer

The RSS icon in Internet Explorer (lower right hand side of image)

To fetch the details of a particular item in a variety of formats you just append the output type after the local control number, e.g.:

The supported output formats are: RDF/XML (.rdf), JSON (.json), N-Triples (.nt) and Turtle (.ttl).

Display of “in transit” items

Another Talis Library Ideas suggestion that we’ve completed for this release is flagging up when an item is in transit/between locations. This feature is also reliant on the new version of LDS, so will also be tested by a small group of libraries before going to general release.

New breadcrumb trail

At a Prism 3 user day last year, the University of Derby mentioned that it would be useful if individual facets could be removed from a search in progress, without having to go back several steps. We set about looking at different ways to present this option to users and settled on a brand new breadcrumb trail for Prism 3.

The new trail has small remove buttons after each element, clicking it will rerun the search without that particular constraint included – allowing users to “open up” their search if they haven’t found exactly what they were looking for.

This is a substantial release so we’d appreciate it if you could take some time to cast an eye over your tenancy and familiarise yourself with the changes we’ve made.

You can access the preview by placing “/demo/” after the part of your URL, e.g.

If you have questions on this or any other issue, please feel free to email me or your Account Manager (or comment here, of course).

Prism 3 Release – 19 November 2010

We’re pleased to announce that the recent preview release of Talis Prism 3 has now been deployed to the live service.  For full details on what has changed in this release please visit the preview release notice here: //

If you have questions on this, or any other issue, please feel free to email, contact your account manager, or leave a comment on the blog.

Prism 3 Release Preview – October 2010

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve just released the latest version of Talis Prism 3 for everyone to preview.

This release comprises the following changes:

  • The culmination of a large unit of work focussing on performance
  • A bug fix for customers with own hostnames, allowing them to view items in their sandbox tenancy.

As with all previous releases, these changes can be tested by using the demo version of your site. For customers using the “” domain, this is accessed by putting “demo/” just before your tenancy name, e.g.:

For customers with own hostname enabled, the “demo/” is placed at the end of your URL, e.g.:

If you have questions on this, or any other issue, please feel free to email, contact your account manager, or leave a comment on the blog.

Prism 3 Release Preview – 2 September 2010

We’ve just released the latest version of Talis Prism 3 for everyone to preview; this release contains some essential precursors for introducing the Semantic Data Model, as well as several other under-the-bonnet tweaks.

The biggest change in this release is a new session tracking system. By tweaking how we handle “my account” sessions, we’ve been able make some changes which will allow us to further improve performance in Prism 3 going forward.

We’ve also enabled Talis Aspire integration, allowing those of you with our next-generation resource list management system to flag what lists an item appears on. If your institution uses Talis Aspire and you would like us to enable this integration, please raise a support request and we will make the necessary configuration changes.

For those of you undertaking your own styling, we’ve introduced a new theme fragment for placing all JavaScript includes; this allows us to control when they are sent to the browser, optimising the performance of your Prism 3 tenancy.

Finally, this version contains the first release of the Semantic Data Model. This will be trialled with several beta customers before being made more widely available. The work released today includes the new “Format” and “Content” facets, as well as display of Alternate Graphic Representation (MARC21 field 880) on item pages. Here’s a sneak preview of this new feature:

Main record representation

Alternate graphic representation shown after clicking on the "Chinese" tab.

As you can see, this release contains quite a lot of “under-the-bonnet” work so we’d really appreciate it if you can all cast an eye over your tenancies. To view the release preview, simply place /demo/ after the part of your url, e.g.

If you have any questions on this, or other issues, please feel free to email me ( or your account manager (or comment here, of course).

Prism 3 Performance Update – June 2010

An ongoing development theme, running in tandem with our other efforts, is a continual focus on improving performance in Prism 3. To validate this work, we have monitoring set up for several tenancies.

I’ve extracted logs from two tenancies and put together charts showing the marked improvement in response times over the last 12 months. The three lines on the chart show the average response time in seconds for the catalogue landing page (home), a search against the catalogue (search) and displaying an item/work (item):

Performance trend for a public tenancy

Public tenancy (click to enlarge)

Performance trend for an academic tenancy

Academic tenancy (click to enlarge)

It’s great to see that all three are loading in under half a second, making the experience for your end users much snappier. This isn’t to say that our work in this area is done – there are more tweaks we are planning to put in place in Prism 3, and the underlying platform it runs upon. Thanks to the “Software as a Service” model used for Prism 3, we can roll out these improvements as soon as they are ready.

The application is just part of the picture though; if you’ve created your own theming/styling for Prism 3, ensuring this is suitably optimised will also improve the performance for your end users. Much of the perceived slowness in a website is actually waiting for items to render once they’ve been downloaded, and you can do a lot to improve this. Properly optimising a design is a lengthy topic, which is covered in far more detail elsewhere (e.g. the Yahoo Performance Rules), but here are some quick tips:

  • Make sure you optimise images and choose the right formats. Use a program like Adobe Fireworks to compress images; if you have a photo on your catalogue home, you can usually compress it by about 85% with no loss of detail. For logos, avoid JPEGs, use PNG and set it to the exact colour-palette to keep the filesize down
  • If you use a series of backgrounds or icons, consider using CSS Sprites to combine them into one image file. This will reduce the overall number of requests for a page and speed up its delivery
  • Put Javascript as close to the bottom of the page as possible (in Prism 3 this means the end of your footer fragment). Since Javascript is interpreted by the browser as soon as it loads, large scripts in the head of a document can cause a delay before a page renders properly
  • Combine scripts into one file; as with images, loading lots of small pieces has more overhead than one larger file
  • Minify CSS and Javascript, tools like the YUI Compressor can cut the filesize and hence the time taken to download these elements
  • Make sure you remove styles only used in development, or which use hooks deprecated from the Prism 3 interface (such as the old availability layout)

If you’d like to discuss this, or any other issue, please either leave a comment here, or email

Semantic Data Model Update – Format

You’ve heard us talking a lot about the Semantic Data Model (I provided a brief summary during the last Webinar, and it’s been covered in some detail on the blog posting back in January). What is it going to mean over the next few months for your Prism 3 catalogue though?

The need to move away from a field based record representation to one made up of links between different entities is very important for improving the user experience in Prism 3. Moving towards a linked data model gives us several benefits:

  • your catalogue will become more browsable through the introduction of dedicated pages for authors, subjects, artists, and more
  • Prism 3 will also function as an API, allowing other applications or your extensions to tap into and use your data in new ways
  • we can weave information from other sources into the item display, augmenting the excellent data already present in your catalogue.

The most important thing to note is that we aren’t “going dark” for an extended period, to emerge with the new data model as a finished item; we’re going to be tackling the task in a series of small, gradual steps. Throughout the next two quarters we’re aiming to provide regular releases when we finish each section, adding value straight away. The first area of data that we’re tackling is format.


The MARC 21 specification offers a rich framework for describing the format of resources that we can mine to get better context for the items in your catalogue; this also underpins other work we want to implement, such as tailoring display of items to the demands of their media; by identifying “what” an item is, we can display context-sensitive enrichment. With CDs this could mean showing track listings fetched from MusicBrainz, and perhaps a short audio preview; with books, a synopsis would be more suitable (from the MARC record, or fetched from an external resource such as LibraryThing); for films, cast and production lists.

In the work on format, we’re modelling both the form of content, such as dictionary, thesis, film, or poetry, and the carrier format such as Large print, CD or DVD. The model will enable the display of meaningful and specific terms to users in both descriptions and navigation options, such as E-book, DVD, VHS and Blu-ray.

This is dependent on the data, of course. Format information will be extracted from all the relevant standard places in your MARC records and mapped into the data model. Some of the key parts of the MARC record for this include the Type of record and the Bibliographic level (Leader/06 and 07), control fields 007, 008 and 006, as well as data fields such as 300 and some notes.


If an item is classed as a book, the most important field we’ll be looking at is 008. We’ll look at form of item (position 23) for some more specific book types, such as large print or online. The nature of contents and biography data elements (positions 24-27, 34) will provide some of the finer grained formats like biography, dictionary, encyclopaedia and thesis. Literary form (position 33) will allow broader categorisation of material into groups such as fiction, non-fiction, short stories and poetry.

Field 007 also becomes important when dealing with items for readers with visual impairments, such as Braille or large print, so we’ll be looking there for these specific formats too.

With all formats we’ll be looking out for the new “online” form of item (position 23) to help us with identifying online resources and allowing for easy faceting of searches for online-only material.


For serials, we’ll once again look at the 008. The type of continuing resource (position 21) will help us identify items as newspaper, periodical or database resources. The form of original item (position 22) and form of item (position 23) will be used to flag information like if the item is microfilm, newspaper, large print or Braille. We’ll also be using information available in the 008 position 25-27 to identify formats such as comics/graphic novels.

Visual Material

Visual material is more complex: we’re dealing with many carriers (with a fast pace of change), and the various types of content that can be delivered on them.

The 007 field will be our primary reference: videorecording format (position 04) provides the carrier (DVD, Blu-ray etc.), which will be supported by checks elsewhere such as 538 $a for specific values. By looking at this data element we can separate DVDs, Blu-rays and VHS videos in the faceted search, which is important if a user doesn’t have a particular player and wishes to filter out certain formats.

Audio Recordings

MARC 21 has some very fine-grained types for sound recordings and music, however, identifying the carrier can be a little tricky because the material designation in 007 contains broad categories.  CD’s for example aren’t listed so we need to look at 007 position 03 to see a speed of 1.4m/s and position 06 for a diameter of 12cm; we’ll also look  at 500 $a and 300 $a. For musical recordings, we’ll be looking in 008 to get the different forms of composition (position 18-19). Position 30-31 will give the work types for literary recordings such as Drama, History, Comedy and Lectures.

Notated Music

Following on from music classification in audio recordings, items that are notated music will have specific data added to our model as well. Format of music (008 position 20) is the primary data element we’ll look at, followed by music parts (position 21) to describe what is included in the score. Target audience and transposition/arrangement (positions 22 and 33) will also be useful when looked at together, for example deriving that a score is a simplified arrangement for younger musicians.

Everything Else

We’ve discussed some formats in detail, but of course there are others, such as maps and computer files. We’ll apply a similar methodology to extracting as much other format information as possible from your records.

We’d love to hear if you have any comments or suggestions on our general approach; if you’d like to give us feedback you can either do it via email to or by posting a comment here on the blog.

New Stock/Prepared Searches

One of the features in the latest Prism 3 preview is new stock searches. I’m going to explain how to perform these searches once we roll out the MarcGrabber update to your system, as well as cover some other additions to the advanced search syntax.

Back in February, Alison explained how any query in Prism 3 can be saved as a prepared search, either by bookmarking or by copying and pasting the URL in your browser address bar. This also holds for new stock searches: you’ll be able to bookmark them, have them on your library website, link to them in emails or even from Facebook.

To prepare a new stock search, all you need to do is perform a search and then add a small snippet of text to the end of the address/URL. To allow you to have very broad sets of items included, we’ve added some new modifiers to the advanced search syntax:

  • collection
  • genre
  • languagecode
  • loantype
  • location
  • language
  • subject
  • dewey

These can be used just like the current modifiers: append a colon followed by a single word or, if searching for several words, surround them in quotation marks (e.g. subject:"Historical Drama").

If we look at one library who are beta testing the new stock search capability, I can enter a query for all items in their main catalogue by entering collection:"Main Catalogue" in the search box.

Search for collection:"Main Catalogue"

When you click on the “Search” button, the URL in the web browser address bar changes to:"Main+Catalogue"

To turn this search into a new stock search just put the following snippet at the end of that URL:


This sets the sort order to recent shelved dates first and limits the number of records returned to a single page. The finished URL that you can bookmark/link to etc. now looks like:"Main+Catalogue"&sort=shelveddate%3Ad&limit=10

Finally, you may have noticed in the list of new advanced search modifiers that you will be able to search by Dewey Decimal Classification. Some people have been asking if they can run searches on a sequence of classes; presently we only support searching on a single class, but we are investigating adding this capability in a future release.

If you have any questions on this, or any other issues, please feel free to email me or your account manager (or comment here, of course).