The Koha manual is your friend :-)

The Koha User Manual is an amazingly in-depth document that keeps getting better with each iteration, thanks to Koha Library System Project’s indefatigable Documentation Manager Nicole C. Engard. This post exemplifies a situation where it can come in handy.

Yesterday a librarian colleague reached out with a query. He is on Koha 3.20.x series and since the last 3 – 4 days, he had been noticing that the “due date” for items his staff was issuing out was coming out rather odd! For instance all the due dates were set to “18th June 2016“. He clarified that he did not have a hard due date set, so what is going on???

This morning he sent over a screen shot of the checkout operation. And boy! the date now read 25th-June-2016. This was an immediate clue! On checking out his calendar – 18th and 25th turned out to be the only two days that are marked as “library is open” in June 2016 (for issues made in these last two weeks i.e.  before the holidays begin) during their summer recess.

That holiday setting working together with the system preference “useDaysMode” set to “the calendar to push the due date to the next open day” for circulations was the reason why Koha was pushing the due date beyond the usual designated due dates for each patron category.  Basically, it was just Koha doing its job (as it was asked to do) and doing it well.

If you are on 3.20, remember to read up http://manual.koha-community.org/3.20/en/calholidays.html, the relevant system preference are all explained very nicely there by Nicole C. Engard, Koha’s indefatigable Documentation Manager.

Sending email alerts via GMAIL : a marriage of convenience or is it???

Library professionals using Koha ILS quite naturally want to send email alerts of circulation details, due date reminders, overdue notices etc to the patrons / users / customers of their libraries. Google’s GMAIL free email service seems to provide an alluring option:

  • gmail is *huge*! Everyone and their uncle is on gmail – resulting in almost instantaneous delivery of emails.
  • anti-virus, anti-spam facilities that are almost second to none.
  • and most importantly,  it is FREE (as in the proverbial lunch, supported by ads that google places on its web mail interface).

It is ridiculously easy to set up Postfix email server to use GMAIL to relay (i.e. send out the emails to the actual recipients) the email alerts generated by Koha. Endless tutorials exist online. Sounds like a perfect match! A Free Software ILS and a free email service, what could be better!

However, Google is a business entity and they are here to make money – for their shareholders, and over the years Google has been slowly cutting down on the number of emails you can send out in a day. If you hit the daily mail quota limits, Gmail will quietly disable email sending from your account for 24 hours. Do it too often, they may (and do) suspend your email account.

“A marriage of convenience, is neither a marriage nor a convenience!”

No, it won’t hit you at first when you are testing the setup or when you have low circulation figures. However, as you roll out and keep expanding services, the number of alerts you need to generate to provide an even more improved user experience, you are likely to end up hitting those quota. I kid you not!

Koha ILS project changes version numbering

During the General IRC meeting on 9th March 2016, the developers voted [1] in a change in the version numbering scheme used in Koha. For almost 3+ years, Koha has been using the version 3.x. Every stable public release had an incrementally updated even number as “x” (i.e. 3.0, 3.2, 3.4… 3.18, 3.20, 3.22 et. al.). The internal development versions (used only by the developers) used the next odd number after the current stable release e.g. 3.21 was used when 3.20.x was the latest stable series.

All that is set to change with the new major version of Koha to be released in just a few days. We are going to align the time-based public releases to yy.mm format. So, the upcoming stable release will be numbered 16.05, and the one scheduled for November 2016 will be 16.11.

References: [1] http://irc.koha-community.org/koha/2016-03-09#i_1797503