[OAI-implementers] issues with OAI-PMH specifications for OAI-Provider implementations using a cache

Fridman, Rozita Rozita.Fridman at FIZ-Karlsruhe.DE
Tue Jun 2 07:37:01 EDT 2009

Hello all,

we developed an OAI-Provider for Escidoc repositories.
Escidoc-OAI-Provider is based on the Fedora-OAI-Provider, which uses a
cache to reduce a response time. Escidoc repositories intend to contain
multiple millions of objects. The Escidoc-Core framework only requires
that objects metadata stored in a Escidoc repository are well formed
xml-structures. Therefore using of a cache in the Escidoc-OAI-Provider
is essential to ensure validness of metadata in OAI-PMH response and an
acceptable response time. 

But the current OAI-PMH protocol specification doesn't account for some
issues, caused by the employment of a cache.
The main problem is a time lag between a harvester request and a last
cache update:
A harvester asks the OAI-Provider for all records that have changed
between T0 and T2 in the underlying repository. The last cache update
was at T1.The harvester gets records that have changed between T0 and
T1, but assumes that it got all changes between T0 and T2. Therefore in
the next request it asks for records that have changed between T2 and T3
and is missing all changes between T1 and T2. If cache update interval
is long and the next cache update takes place after T3, the harvester is
also missing all changes between T2 and T3 and so on.
One proposal would be to put a date stamp of the last cache update into
the OAI-PMH response, in order to inform a harvester about possibly
missed records. 

Does anybody face the same problem? What do you think about it? Maybe
there are better solutions for this problem?

The other issue is that depending on the OAI-Provider implementation a
cache may be in an inconsistent state while a cache update process is
running. Are there means in the OAI-PMH protocol to respond to harvester
requests during a cache update? A possible solution would be to respond
with a HTTP-status code 503-Service unavailable (section of the
specification), but the problem is to specify Retry-After period. A
duration of the cache update is not constant, it depends on the changes
in the repository.

Thanks a lot,

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