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Quick and easy OAI record parsing with PHP

By Alex Dolski on February 11, 2009 8:17 AM | Permalink

Welcome to the second post on our blog! I'm the Web & Digitization Application Developer (a.k.a. junior programmer), which means that my posts will be the most important. Before I begin, a shout-out to all my dead homies. Now that that's out of the way, I can proceed.

If you work with metadata in a digital repository, the time may come when you need to export it for other purposes. Your repository software may or may not make that easy for you; but as long as it supports OAI-PMH, it's both possible and simple to do in a standards-compliant way. To do the job, we will use PHP's DOM core; this is one of several ways to work with XML in PHP. It can, of course, also be done in any other common scripting language.


$qs = array(
   'verb' => 'ListRecords',
   'metadataPrefix' => 'oai_dc',
   'set' => 'hughes'

$url = ''
   . http_build_query($qs);
$xml = file_get_contents(utf8_encode($url));
if (!$doc = DOMDocument::loadXML($xml)) {
   // abort

$xpath = new DOMXPath($doc);


   <!-- The query() method returns a DOMNodeList object
   (an array-like list of DOMNodes). The first parameter is
   an XPath query. -->
   <? foreach ($xpath->query('//dc:*', $doc) as $node): ?>
      <dt><?= $node->nodeName ?></dt>
      <dd><?= $node->nodeValue ?></dd>
   <? endforeach ?>

From here, you can do anything with it - print it to the screen, save it to a database, export it to a spreadsheet, etc. Handy. You can also fetch just a single record, using GetRecord in place of ListRecords:

$qs = array( 
   'verb' => 'GetRecords', 
   'metadataPrefix' => 'oai_dc', 
   'identifier' => '' 

A mobot - who wouldn't want one?

There is more information in the OAI record than just the DC fields; to access it, just register the necessary namespace(s) and modify the XPath query. You can always take a look at the contents of $xml to see the raw XML string.


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