MasterKey Connect Service

MasterKey Connect (MKC) is a service which provides a simple network API to thousands of online databases, journals, library catalogs, and other resources. The service allows you to use a simple, XML-based API to access practically any searchable site, whether open access or subscription-based.

MKC Diagram

There are many situations in which you might like to search different kinds of online databases from within software. Maybe you are building a mashup of different information sources; maybe you wish to use a particular online resource for copy-cataloging; maybe you use a metasearch product that doesn’t support a particular database; maybe you are a vendor launching a whole new product.

In the past, ‘connectors’ or gateways to online databases have typically been built and closely guarded by a small number of companies who use them in their own products. They are expensive to build and maintain, and the overhead of maintaining these redundant connectors translates into increased costs for businesses and customers. The goal of MKC is to provide a service which allows organizations to easily access almost any information source without having to expend valuable resources to build their own connectors.

Here is how it works.

The databases themselves might expose their content in many different ways. Sometimes they might provide proprietary APIs; sometimes, they might support standard protocols such as SRU or Z39.50, but implement different character sets or record formats; sometimes, the only way to access them is to harvest their contents and build an index, or to ‘screen-scrape’ a search interface by writing software that pretends to be an end-user with a browser. MasterKey Connect will use all these different techniques to access databases on your behalf, and provide ONE simple interface; one query format; one result record format. You can access any database supported by MasterKey Connect through one single API. You can use tools such as YAZ, PHP/YAZ, Perl/ZOOM, or any of the ZOOM implementations to access MasterKey Connect, or you can write your own code using your favorite HTTP/XML tools – see the examples below, and look at our software pages for more inspiration.

Please contact us for pricing information.

The nitty gritties.

Detailed specifications are in The MasterKey Connect Profile.

Here is an example of a request against MasterKey Connect:

Note, this is an XML response. Click on the link and choose “View Source” in your browser’s menu if you do not automatically see the XML.

We also have directions for how to access MasterKey Connect using Z39.50.

This example is a search for ‘jules verne’ against Project Gutenberg. Boolean, fielded queries are possible when supported by the databases. It’s possible to use this API to ‘page’ through results by asking for different starting points and different numbers of records.

The result includes relevant data from the server, mapped into a standard set of fields – the same set of fields are used no matter what database you are searching. Of course, not all fields are supported by all databases. For purists, the format is an extension of the standard MODS format.

The service allows for access to licensed content and authenticated databases. A proxy function enables seamless access for your users when they wish to follow links from metadata records to the actual content.

Please contact us for further details about this service or to arrange a trial.

Interested in parallel searching across hundreds of resources, merged, faceted, and ranked results, and an integrated, web-based administration console? You might like our MasterKey platform.

Image icon MKC Diagram32.27 KB