Michael has been the lead engineer for Veridian software since 2007 and has bucketloads of experience in the digital library technology industry.
The phrase: “I’d better check that with Michael” is regularly used around our office. We’re very fortunate to have someone with his depth of knowledge in our midst.
Michael ensures Veridian stays ahead of the curve and also manages some of our largest and most well regarded Veridian projects such as the National Library of New Zealand’s Papers Past collection.
What's your favourite part about your role at Veridian?
It's always a great feeling when a new Veridian site goes live, but on an everyday basis I most enjoy developing the Veridian software further. I've been privileged to work on it for quite a few years now. It certainly doesn't seem like 12 years. It's the opportunity to continually evolve and hone and polish it that's so rewarding. Whether adding a new feature, restructuring the code to make it more flexible, or squeezing a bit more speed out of it, there's the satisfaction that each day it's fractionally better than the day before.
How would you describe your approach to software development?
At a low level I like to make the code as readable as possible, through consistent formatting, verbose names and lots of comments. At a higher level I think it's critical that the overall structure of the different components making up Veridian is good. In a sufficiently well-structured system, adding new features should be possible without major changes. If an idea proves to be difficult to implement, then it either means that the Veridian structure is lacking and needs to be tweaked, or that the idea isn't logical or sufficiently thought through and users may find the feature confusing.
I'm also a big believer in not taking shortcuts ("hacks" as they're colloquially known in the trade) in the Veridian code. Since it's a long-term product, we can play the long game and spend the extra time to find a more elegant solution. Sometimes this means a little restructuring, but this often has flow-on benefits in terms of flexibility or scalability.
What sets a Veridian based digital collection apart from others?
There are a few factors here but I think the key Veridian qualities are its features, performance and scalability. Even more importantly though, it's our customer service in general and our ability to develop bespoke sites and features in particular that I think our clients value most.
Cheese or chocolate?
Chocolate can be pretty good but I can't go past cheese.
What's your top tip for digitization teams at the beginning of a digital collection project?
This may be a surprise given that I spend most of my time working on content delivery software, but I like to stress to clients that it's the data that is the most valuable thing. This means ensuring that the data is digitized and processed well in the first instance; you really don't want to have to go back and redo it again later. Good quality data using open standards will endure even if you change content delivery systems in the future. It's also important to take the time to organise the digital files well, check for duplicate or missing issues, and backup the data carefully. Well organised data will be easier to ingest into Veridian, saving time at the end of the project.
Love your data, it's what makes your site unique and special!
What would you sing if we forced you to do karaoke?
Sorry but there's no force in the universe strong enough to get me to do karaoke! My boys would tell you that at home I do a great rendition of "On Top Of Spaghetti", but they're too young to discern talent, or in this case a complete lack of.