Skip to main content

A Flask blueprint that provides a faceted search interface for bibliographies based on Zotero.

Project description

Kerko

Kerko is a web application component for the Flask framework that provides a user-friendly search and browsing interface for sharing a bibliography managed with the Zotero reference manager.

How it works

Kerko is implemented in Python as a Flask blueprint and, as such, cannot do much unless it is incorporated into a Flask application. A sample application is available, KerkoApp, which anyone with basic requirements could deploy directly on a web server. It is common, however, to integrate Kerko into a larger application, either derived from KerkoApp or custom-built for specific needs. The Kerko-powered bibliography might be just one section of a larger website.

Kerko does not provide any tools for managing bibliographic records. Instead, a well-established reference management software, Zotero, is used for that purpose. The Zotero desktop application provides powerful tools to individuals or teams for managing bibliographic data, which it stores in the cloud on zotero.org. Kerko can be configured to automatically synchronize its search index from zotero.org on a regular basis, ensuring that visitors get an up-to-date even if it is changing frequently.

The combination of Kerko and Zotero gives you the best of both worlds: a user-friendly interface for end-users of the bibliography, and a powerful bibliographic reference management tool for working on the bibliography's content.

Features

The following features are implemented in Kerko:

  • Faceted search interface: allows exploration of the bibliography both in search mode and in browsing mode, potentially suiting different user needs, behaviors and abilities. For example, users with a prior idea of the topic or expected results are able to enter keywords or a more complex query in a search field, while those who wish to become familiar with the content of the bibliography or discover new topics may choose to navigate along the proposed facets, to refine or broaden their results. Since both modes are integrated into a single interface, it is possible to combine them.
  • Search syntax: boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT; AND is implicit between any two terms separated by a whitespace), logical grouping (with parenthesis), sequence of words (with double quotes (")).
  • Search is case-insentitive, accents are folded, and punctuation is ignored. To further improve recall (albeit at the cost of precision), stemming is also performed on terms from most text fields (e.g., title, abstract, notes). It relieves the user from having to specify all variants of a word when searching; for example, terms such as "search", "searches", and "searching" all return the same results. The Snowball algorithm is used for that purpose.
  • Sort options: by relevance score (only applicable with text search), by publication date, by author, by title.
  • Relevance scoring: provided by the Whoosh library and based on a score computed with the BM25F algorithm, which determines how important a term is to a document in the whole collection of documents, while taking into account its relation to document structure (most fields are neutral, but the score is boosted when a term appears in specific fields, e.g., DOI, ISBN, ISSN, title, author/contributor).
  • Facets: allow filtering by topic (Zotero tag), by resource type (Zotero item type), by publication year. Application may be configured to add facets based on collections and subcollections; in this case, any top-level collection can represent a facet, and each subcollection a value within the facet. Using Zotero's ability to assign any given item to multiple collections, a faceted classification scheme can be modeled (including hierarchies within facets).
  • Language support: the default user interface is in English, but some translations are provided, and it can be translated using standard gettext-compatible tools (see the Translating section). Also to consider: locales supported by Zotero (which provides the names of fields, item types, and author types), and languages supported by Whoosh: ar, da, nl, en, fi, fr, de, hu, it, no, pt, ro, ru, es, sv, tr.
  • Responsive design: the simple default implementation works on large monitors as well as on small screens. It is based on Bootstrap.
  • Customizable front-end: applications may partly or fully replace the default templates, scripts and stylesheets with their own.
  • Semantic markup: users may easily import citations into their own reference manager software, either from search results pages or individual bibliographic record pages, both of which embed bibliographic metadata (using the OpenURL COinS model). Zotero Connector, for example, will automatically detect the metadata present in the page, but that applies to many other reference management software as well.
  • Printing: stylesheets are provided for printing individual bibliographic records as well as lists of search results. When printing search results, all results get printed (not just the current page of results).
  • Modularity: although a standalone application is available, Kerko is designed not as a standalone application, but to be part of a larger Flask application.

Demo site

A demo KerkoApp installation is available at https://demo.kerko.whiskyechobravo.com. You may also visit https://www.zotero.org/groups/2348869/kerko_demo/items to view its source data on zotero.org.

Requirements

Kerko requires Python 3.6 or later.

It has only been tested under Linux (so far). If you run it on other platforms, (with or without encountering compatibility issues), please let us know.

Dependencies

The following packages will be automatically installed when installing Kerko:

  • Babel: utilities for internationalization and localization.
  • Bootstrap-Flask: helper for integrating Bootstrap.
  • environs: helper for separating configuration from code.
  • Flask: web application framework.
  • Flask-BabelEx: allows Kerko to provide its own translations, at the blueprint level.
  • Flask-WTF: simple integration of Flask and WTForms.
  • Jinja2: template engine.
  • Pyzotero: Python client for the Zotero API.
  • Werkzeug: WSGI web application library (also required by Flask).
  • Whoosh: pure Python full-text indexing and searching library.
  • WTForms: web forms validation and rendering library.

The following external resources are loaded from CDNs by Kerko's default templates (but could be completely removed or replaced by your application):

  • Bootstrap: front-end component library for web applications.
  • FontAwesome: beautiful open source icons.
  • jQuery: JavaScript library (required by Bootstrap).
  • Popper.js: JavaScript library for handling tooltips, popovers, etc. (used by Bootstrap).

Getting started

This section only applies if you intend to integrate Kerko into your own application. If you are more interested into the standalone KerkoApp application, please refer to its installation instructions.

We'll assume that you have some familiarity with Flask and suggest steps for building a minimal app, let's call it hello_kerko.py, to get you started.

  1. The first step is to install Kerko. As with any Python library, it is highly recommended to install Kerko within a virtualenv.

    Once the virtualenv is set and active, use the following command:

    pip install kerko
    
  2. In hello_kerko.py, configure variables required by Kerko and create your app object, as in the example below:

    from flask import Flask
    from kerko.composer import Composer
    
    app = Flask(__name__)
    app.config['SECRET_KEY'] = '_5#y2L"F4Q8z\n\xec]/'  # Replace this value.
    app.config['KERKO_ZOTERO_API_KEY'] = 'xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx'  # Replace this value.
    app.config['KERKO_ZOTERO_LIBRARY_ID'] = '9999999'  # Replace this value.
    app.config['KERKO_ZOTERO_LIBRARY_TYPE'] = 'group'  # Replace this value.
    app.config['KERKO_COMPOSER'] = Composer()
    

    The SECRET_KEY variable is required for generating secure tokens in web forms. It is usually set in an environment variable rather than in Python code (the latter usually goes in a code repository, making its value not so secret), but here we're taking the minimal route!

    The KERKO_ZOTERO_API_KEY, KERKO_ZOTERO_LIBRARY_ID and KERKO_ZOTERO_LIBRARY_TYPE variables are required for Kerko to be able to access your Zotero library. See the Configuration variables section for details on how to properly set these variables.

    The KERKO_COMPOSER variable, on the other hand, specifies key elements needed by Kerko, e.g., fields for display and search, facets for filtering. These are defined by instanciating the Composer class. Your application may manipulate the resulting object at configuration time to add, remove or alter fields, facets, sort options or search scopes. See the Kerko Recipes section for some examples.

  3. Also configure the Flask-BabelEx and Bootstrap-Flask extensions:

    from flask_babelex import Babel
    from flask_bootstrap import Bootstrap
    
    babel = Babel(app)
    bootstrap = Bootstrap(app)
    

    See the respective docs for Flask-BabelEx and Bootstrap-Flask for more details.

  4. Instanciate the Kerko blueprint and register it in your app:

    from kerko import blueprint as kerko_blueprint
    
    app.register_blueprint(kerko_blueprint, url_prefix='/bibliography')
    

    The url_prefix argument defines the base path for every URL provided by Kerko.

  5. In the same directory as hello_kerko.py with the virtualenv active, run the following shell command:

    export FLASK_APP=hello_kerko.py
    flask kerko index
    

    Kerko will retrieve your bibliographic data from zotero.org. If you have a large bibliography, this may take a while (and there is no progress indicator). In production use, that command is usually added to the crontab file for regular execution.

    To list all commands provided by Kerko:

    flask kerko --help
    
  6. Run your application:

    flask run
    
  7. Open http://127.0.0.1:5000/bibliography/ in your browser and explore the bibliography.

You have just built a really minimal application for Kerko. Check KerkoApp for a slightly more complete example.

Configuration variables

The variables below are required and have no default values:

  • KERKO_ZOTERO_LIBRARY_ID: Your personal userID for API calls, as given on zotero.org (you must be logged-in on zotero.org).
  • KERKO_ZOTERO_LIBRARY_TYPE: The type of library on zotero.org (either 'user' for your main personal library, or 'group' for a group library).
  • KERKO_ZOTERO_API_KEY: The API key associated to the library on zotero.org. You have to create that key.
  • KERKO_COMPOSER: An instance of the kerko.composer.Composer class.

Any of the following variables may be added to your configuration if you wish to override their default value:

  • KERKO_TITLE: The title to display in web pages. Defaults to 'Kerko'.
  • KERKO_DATA_DIR: The directory where to store the search index. Defaults to data/kerko.
  • BABEL_DEFAULT_LOCALE: The default language of the user interface. Defaults to 'en'. Your application may set this variable and/or implement a locale selector function to override it (see the Flask-BabelEx documentation).
  • KERKO_USE_TRANSLATIONS: Use translations provided by the Kerko package. Defaults to True. When this is set to False, translations may be provided by the application's own translation catalog.
  • KERKO_WHOOSH_LANGUAGE: The language of search requests. Defaults to 'en'. You may refer to Whoosh's source to get the list of supported languages (whoosh.lang.languages) and the list of languages that support stemming (whoosh.lang.has_stemmer()).
  • KERKO_ZOTERO_LOCALE: The locale to use with Zotero API calls. This dictates the language of Zotero item types, fields and creator types. Defaults to 'en-US'. Supported locales are listed at https://api.zotero.org/schema, under "locales".
  • KERKO_PAGE_LEN: The number of search results per page. Defaults to 20.
  • KERKO_CSL_STYLE: The citation style to use for formatted references. Can be either the file name (without the .csl extension) of one of the styles in the Zotero Styles Repository (e.g., apa) or the URL of a remote CSL file. Defaults to 'apa'.
  • KERKO_RESULTS_ABSTRACT: Show abstracts in search result pages. Defaults to False.
  • KERKO_PAGER_LINKS: Number of pages to show in the pager (not counting the current page). Defaults to 8.
  • KERKO_FACET_COLLAPSING: Allow collapsible facets. Defaults to False.
  • KERKO_PRINT_ITEM_LINK: Provide a print button on item pages. Defaults to False.
  • KERKO_PRINT_CITATIONS_LINK: Provide a print button on search results pages. Defaults to False.
  • KERKO_PRINT_CITATIONS_MAX_COUNT: Limit over which the print button should be hidden from search results pages. Defaults to 0 (i.e. no limit).
  • KERKO_ZOTERO_MAX_ATTEMPTS: Maximum number of tries after the Zotero API has returned an error or not responded during indexing. Defaults to 10.
  • KERKO_ZOTERO_WAIT: Time to wait (in seconds) between failed attempts to call the Zotero API. Defaults to 120.
  • KERKO_ZOTERO_BATCH_SIZE: Number of items to request on each call to the Zotero API. Defaults to 100 (which is the maximum currently allowed by the API).
  • KERKO_ZOTERO_START: Skip items, start at the specified position. Defaults to 0. Useful only for development/tests.
  • KERKO_ZOTERO_END: Load items from Zotero until the specified position. Defaults to 0 (no limit). Useful only for development/tests.

Kerko Recipes

TODO

Known limitations

  • The system can probably handle relatively large bibliographies (it has been tested so far with ~15k entries), but the number of distinct facet values has more impact on response times. For the best response times, it is recommended to limit the number of distinct facet values to a few hundreds.
  • Kerko can only manage a single bibliography per application.
  • Although Kerko might be integrated in a multilingual web application were the visitor may select a language, Zotero does not provide a way to manage tags or collections in multiple languages. Thus, there is no easy way for Kerko to provide those names in the user's language.
  • Whoosh does not provide much out-of-the-box support for non-Western languages. Therefore, search might not work very well with such languages.
  • No other referencement management tool than Zotero may serve as a back-end for Kerko.

Design choices

  • Do not build a back-end. Let Zotero act as the "content management" system.
  • Allow Kerko to integrate into richer web applications.
  • Only implement in Kerko features that are related to the exploration of a bibliography. Let other parts of the web application handle all other features that might be needed.
  • Use a lightweight framework (Flask) to avoid carrying many features that are not needed.
  • Use pure Python dependencies to keep installation and deployment simple. Hence the use of Whoosh for search, for example, instead of Elasticsearch or Solr.
  • Use a classic architecture for the front-end. Keep it simple and avoid asset management. Some will want to replace the front-end anyway.

Translating Kerko

Kerko can be translated using Babel's setuptools integration.

The following commands should be executed from the directory that contains setup.py, and the appropriate virtualenv must have been activated beforehand.

Create or update the PO template (POT) file:

python setup.py extract_messages

Create a new PO file (for a new locale) based on the POT file:

python setup.py init_catalog --locale <your_locale>

Update an existing PO file based on the POT file:

python setup.py update_catalog --locale <your_locale>

Compile MO files:

python setup.py compile_catalog

You are welcome to contribute your translation. See the Submitting a translation section.

Contributing

Reporting issues

Issues may be submitted on Kerko's issue tracker. Please consider the following guidelines:

  • Make sure that the same issue has not already been reported or fixed in the repository.
  • Describe what you expected to happen.
  • If possible, include a minimal reproducible example to help others identify the issue.
  • Describe what actually happened. Include the full traceback if there was an exception.

Submitting code changes

Pull requests may be submitted against Kerko's repository. Please consider the following guidelines:

  • Consider using Yapf to autoformat your code (with option --style='{based_on_style: facebook, column_limit: 100}'). Many editors provide Yapf integration.
  • Include a string like "Fixes #123" in your commit message (where 123 is the issue you fixed). See Closing issues using keywords.

Submitting a translation

Some guidelines:

  • The PO file encoding must be UTF-8.
  • The header of the PO file must be filled out appropriately.
  • All messages of the PO file must be translated.

Please submit your translation as a pull request against Kerko's repository, or by e-mail, with the PO file included as an attachment (do not copy the PO file's content into an e-mail's body, since that could introduce formatting or encoding issues).

Supporting the project

Nurturing an open source project such as Kerko, following up on issues and helping others in working with the system is a lot of work, but hiring the original developers of Kerko can do a lot in ensuring continued support and development of the project.

If you need professionnal support related to Kerko, have requirements not currently implemented in Kerko, want to make sure that some Kerko issue important to you gets resolved, or if you just like our work and want to hire us for different project, please e-mail us.

Project background

Kerko was inspired by two prior projects:

Later on, it became clear that other organizations needed a similar solution. However, software from the prior projects had to be rewritten so it could more easily be configured for different bibliographies from organizations with different needs. That led to Kerko, whose development was made possible through the following projects:

  • TODO: list project 1 when it's live.
  • TODO: list project 2 when it's live.

Etymology

The name "Zotero" reportedly derives from the Albanian word zotëroj, which means "to learn something extremely well, that is to master or acquire a skill in learning" (Source: Etymology of Zotero).

The name "Kerko" is a nod to Zotero as it takes a similar etymological route: it derives from the Albanian word kërkoj, which means "to ask, to request, to seek, to look for, to demand, to search" and seems fit to describe a search tool.

Download files

Download the file for your platform. If you're not sure which to choose, learn more about installing packages.

Files for Kerko, version 0.3a0
Filename, size File type Python version Upload date Hashes
Filename, size Kerko-0.3a0-py3-none-any.whl (69.3 kB) File type Wheel Python version py3 Upload date Hashes View hashes
Filename, size Kerko-0.3a0.tar.gz (62.8 kB) File type Source Python version None Upload date Hashes View hashes

Supported by

Elastic Elastic Search Pingdom Pingdom Monitoring Google Google BigQuery Sentry Sentry Error logging AWS AWS Cloud computing DataDog DataDog Monitoring Fastly Fastly CDN DigiCert DigiCert EV certificate StatusPage StatusPage Status page