Digital Curation Micro-Applications: Digital Lifecycle Management with AutoHotkey
Wilson, Robert John III
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Maintaining usable and sustainable digital collections requires a complex set of actions that address the many challenges at various stages of the digital object lifecycle. Digital curation activities enhance access and retrieval, maintain quality, add value, and facilitate use and re-use over time. Accordingly, the University of North Texas (UNT) Libraries develop and adopt tools, workflows, and quality control mechanisms that streamline production and quality assurance activities. This poster demonstrates open source software tools coded with AutoHotkey that the UNT digital libraries group has developed for use during the pre-ingest and post-ingest stages of the digital resource lifecycle. AutoHotkey is free and open source software for the Windows operating system which helps digital curators to create customized micro-applications for digital lifecycle management. Developers write scripts that embed multiple keystrokes and system commands in a single key combination, or hotkey. In addition to a portable version for script developers who frequently change workstations, AutoHotkey allows users to create executable files from source scripts for use on computers that do not have AutoHotkey installed. The AutoHotkey scripting language supports programming constructs (e.g., variables, loops, conditionals) and dynamic graphical user interfaces (GUIs). Simple AutoHotkey scripts are particularly useful for large projects that require repetitive file management actions. For ongoing batch processing activities, more complex scripts improve efficiency for those who are unfamiliar with command line equivalents. These scripts allow digital curators to perform automated file management and data entry tasks within the operating system’s GUI. The Digital Libraries Division at the UNT Libraries has constructed a set of tools that bundle complex AutoHotkey scripts together in a convenient GUI. This poster demonstrates how AutoHotkey micro-applications streamline workflows for the creation and maintenance of digital objects and their associated metadata.