This documentation is for Release 2.0.0. For the Release 1 version of this page, see v.124 found under Page History.
This guide is for Avalon 2.0.
The Avalon Collections Guide for Avalon Media System explains Avalon features, functionality, and how to navigate the system. It is designed for the collection Manager, Editor, or Depositor, whomever is responsible for uploading content, editing content, or providing content for playback through Avalon. See your system administrator for issues that relate to configuring Avalon "under the hood."
Authenticated users - A user who can access Avalon using a valid identifier and authentication combination supported by your institution. Publicly accessibly items do not require authentication for access.
On the Avalon home page, click "Sign in>>" (upper right)
At the Login page, enter your username and password, click Login/Sign In Button.
If you log in and do not have editing rights, you will need to be added to at least one collection as a manager, editor or depositor. You may also be able to use the "Contact Us" form linked in the footer of the Avalon site to request access or contact your system administrator.
Browsing and searching is powered by Blacklight and Solr indexing. Flexible search features include Unicode support; Advanced Full-Text Search Capabilities; faceted searching to help end users and collection members refine their search results. Avalon also auto-generates search suggestions. Avalon provides multiple sorting options for search results, including relevancy sorting or sorting by number of results shown per page. Once items are added to Avalon, Near Real-time indexing occurs. No additional steps are needed to index newly added or changed objects.
Labels for sections are not searchable.
Boolean Commands (AND, OR, NOT) and Truncation are not supported by Avalon at this time.
By default, Avalon uses Solr's DisMax Query Parser (or dismax), which is designed to process simple phrases without a need for any complex syntax. There is support for + (required) and - (excluded) words, as well as the use of quotes for phrase searching.
Solr also comes with an Extended DisMax Query Parser (edismax), which supports everything dismax does, with the addition of:
Avalon does not use edismax by default. Contact your system administrator to make changes in the Solr configuration.
Avalon uses the MediaElement.js player for playback of both audio and video files.
Player controls - When viewing the Avalon player in the browser window, player controls can be found below the video. When in fullscreen mode, hover your mouse over the bottom area of the picture and you will see player controls appear.
To view a specific section when multiple sections are available, click the desired item for playback under the Section heading below the player.
Mobile viewing: Avalon works on iOS and Android devices.
In Avalon, Units are used to define ownership and responsibility of collections and their items. Each collection needs to belong to a unit and collections can only belong to one unit. Each item within a collection can be discovered using Avalon's search or by browsing using the Unit facet.
In order to create or update unit names, the unit configuration file will need to be updated. Please contact your system administrator for assistance (see Managing Units).
You can refer to the Avalon Media System blog post, "Understanding Avalon Roles and Permissions," for information on which role best fits your needs.
Avalon has 4 default roles:
Permissions are also a hierarchy--an editor can do anything a depositor can do; a manager can do anything editors and depositors can do; an administrator can do anything.
At this time, Avalon does allow anyone to delete the contents of a collection in a single process. The content in a collection must be moved to a different collection. If items need to be deleted from Avalon, each item must be deleted at the item level. Collections that do not contain any items can be deleted without any additional steps.
When viewing an item, if you have access to edit the item you will see an Edit button above the audio or video player. Clicking the Edit button allows users with access to manage files by assigning labels and uploading additional bitstreams, add or change metadata about the item in the Resource Description page, reorder multiple bitstreams in the Structure page, edit who can access the item in the Access Control page, and Preview how the item will appear.
To change a thumbnail or poster image after an item has completed initial processing, you must ensure that the original file is still in its original location. If Avalon doesn't find the original file, it will silently fail to create a new thumbnail.
For video, the default setting for poster image and thumbnail is 2 seconds into playback. There are two ways to change the thumbnail and poster images for a video. One way is to edit the item, go to Manage file(s), change the Thumbnail (seconds) for the first file. Once changed, click Save or Save and Continue. The Thumbnail (seconds) can also be set for the other video sections but they will not appear in search results.
The other method for setting a custom thumbnail and poster image is on the Preview page. Start playback. Select an image during playback or while video is paused by clicking on the camera icon in the lower right corner of the player window at the point in the video you wish to use for the new thumbnail/poster image. Avalon will confirm that that is the correct image. Poster image should reload automatically.
Types of files, size of files, etc
Avalon uses FFmpeg for transcoding. For a list of source file formats and codecs that are supported, see the FFmpeg Supported Source Formats and Codecs documentation on our wiki.
There is an individual file size limit of 250MB when uploading files manually through the Avalon Web interface.
There is no practical limit on the maximum file size of a source file uploaded to the system through the Avalon Dropbox or through the Batch Upload feature.
File names cannot include the following characters: [ ] < > | &
Thumbnails are captured by Opencast Matterhorn at the 2 second mark of video files only. This setting can be changed for each video file of an Avalon object by editing the Thumbnail (seconds) value for the file in Manage file(s). If the item is audio, the thumbnail is an illustration of headphones. If the item contains audio and video, the thumbnail is headphones and a screen.
To correct errors with one or more content files within an Avalon object:
Place corrected content files for that object in the top level of the dropbox directory (contact your system administrator for dropbox location and connection information). Once processed, the corrected content files will be available in Edit mode for the Avalon object from the Manage file(s) > Import from a dropbox feature. Delete the incorrect content files from the object in the Manage file(s) step of the Avalon object Edit mode, add the corrected files in the Associated file(s) section, then Save at the bottom of the Manage file(s) form.
To correct errors with the information about an Avalon object:
Web ingest is used for manual upload of one or more media objects.
There is an individual file size limit of 250MB when uploading a file manually through the Avalon Web interface.
The Avalon Web interface allows for labels to be added to individual sections of a multipart Avalon object.
Avalon Objects can be created without associating media. Metadata and access control information can be created first which allows for collection managers to come back to that Avalon Object and associate the correct media at a later time. You must click "Save and continue" to progress through the steps even if no changes are made.
Deleting files -
Deleting a single Avalon object deletes the record from the database and the derivatives created for each media file.
Deleting a content file of an Avalon object does not automatically delete that content file and its derivatives. If you would like those items deleted, follow the prompt “Several clean up jobs have been sent out. Their statuses can be viewed by your sysadmin at /var/www/avalon/shared/log/matterhorn_cleanup.log”
Avalon’s dropbox is used to import large files over 250MB (this has no association to dropbox.com).
Uploading files - Large media files are placed in a dedicated Avalon dropbox (a file server usually connected via SFTP or a mapped network drive). Contact your system administrator for dropbox location and connection information.
Once files are mounted into the dropbox, collection members can go to the Create an Item option or Edit option for an item within a collection to open the dropbox and attach selected files to an Avalon Object. File processing begins once media is attached from the dropbox.
Deleting files from the Avalon dropbox - You can delete files from the Avalon Dropbox through the web interface or directly on the server the dropbox is located:
Avalon's Batch Ingest feature provides a method of building one or more media objects at a time from uploaded content and metadata outside the user interface. A batch ingest is started by uploading an Ingest Package (the combination of content and metadata) consisting of one Manifest File and one or more Content Files to the Avalon dropbox.
Formatting the xls - See Batch Ingest Package Format for a batch spreadsheet template and instructions on the metadata fields that can be included in a batch ingest.
Formatting the batch - All content and metadata files are placed in a dedicated Avalon dropbox (a file server usually connected via SFTP or a mapped network drive). Contact your system administrator for dropbox location and connection information.
Upon loading the batch in the dropbox, Avalon checks to see if the spreadsheet is formatted properly and if all the files are copied to the server. Avalon sends an email (to the address listed in the spreadsheet) either confirming that all is well and the batch is processing OR a report of problems with the batch (such as missing files or incorrect formatting). Upon completion of the batch, Avalon sends an email of success or failure.
Handling errors for Avalon objects within a batch
Avalon form: To re-ingest a single Avalon object (one row of the batch ingest spreadsheet), place all content files for that object in the top level of the dropbox directory. Once processed, the content files will be available from the Manage file(s) > Import from a dropbox feature in Avalon and the object can be created using Avalon’s form.
Reload spreadsheet: Another option to re-ingest a single Avalon object or set of objects is to reduce the batch spreadsheet to only those failed objects and reload the spreadsheet to the same location as before. This will run the batch again but only for the failed content files.
If a single Avalon object with multiple content files has one or some of those files fail (but not all), either delete that object from Avalon and use the Reload spreadsheet method to load the entire object again or use the Avalon form method to add those failed content files to the dropbox and append them to the appropriate object in Avalon.
Suggestions for controlled vocabulary use
Some fields in Avalon have recommended controlled vocabularies. Genre, all types of Subjects (Location, Time Period) and, if possible, names of Creators and Contributors should come from a controlled vocabulary. The contextual help accompanying the fields in the Resource Description form contains links to the recommended vocabularies. Additionally, the Batch Ingest Package Format specifies controlled vocabularies for those same fields.
If a single Avalon object is made up of multiple content files, those content files can be uploaded separately to the object, labeled individually, given different thumbnails (for video files only) and reordered at any time. If there is more than one content file, each content file will be listed on the Avalon object’s page and can be selected for individual playback. Labels specific to these content files can be helpful for users to better understand the content of the object. If no label is provided for a content file, the filename will be listed. You must click Save or Save and continue at the bottom of the Manage file(s) page for labels to persist.
Avalon utilizes 2 categories of groups: System and Ad Hoc Groups
System Groups - System groups are configured by a System Administrator.
Adhoc Groups - Group Managers can create new groups for the purpose of sharing specific resources with groups of users. These groups will have view access only.
No ability exists in the interface to edit policies for groups. To add users to a group, enter their Avalon username as displayed in the upper right corner upon logging in. This is usually an email address.