How to create and manage solutions

Joinup is an online collaborative platform created by the European Commission and funded by the European Union via the ISA2 Programme. It offers several services for sharing and reusing interoperability solutions for public administrations, businesses and citizens, and encourages knowledge sharing between likeminded e-Government professionals.

This How-To document will present the concept of the Joinup solution, how it integrates with the general Joinup content structure, in which ways it can be used and how you can create it.

Joinup’s content structure

Joinup revolves around collections. Collections provide a distinct, easy way to group and access content that is related to a specific subject field. All created Joinup content resides under a collection.

The solution as a concept

One such important content item is the solution, which provides a way to group and access content that is related to the subject field of the collection it belongs to. In contrast to all other one-dimensional Joinup content items (i.e., documents, events, news etc.), a solution provides its own internal structure allowing the creation and inclusion within it of other regular Joinup content items, including some extra ones such as releases and distributions which we will describe later on. It should be noted that a solution (and its content within) must reside under – and relate to – a collection.

Figure 1 - A solution's internal structure within a collection

Joinup structure

When to use a solution

Since, in a sense, a solution mimics a collection in a lot of ways the obvious question often arises of why choose this type over creating a collection. The short answer is that, in most cases, a collection already exists on Joinup that relates to the domain you wish to use for your requirements. For example, if you are developing a reusable solution based on semantic interoperability then you could add it as a solution to the Semantic Interoperability Community (SEMIC) collection; or if you have something related to a specific geographical area (i.e., a city or region) then search Joinup for an existing collection (i.e., for instance the Barcelona City Council collection for solutions covering that city/region). In such cases, we strongly advise to take advantage of this fact, since such collections are usually well-established with a lot of members and daily visitors, providing a wider exposure to the content you will create in there.

Note: Of course, on the occasion in which your requirements warrant the creation of a new collection, you can proceed and do so by selecting the COLLECTIONS page tab, and then clicking on the “CREATE COLLECTION” tile.

Once you have established that there is no need for creating a collection – as this need, for example, may have been covered by an existing collection – the next step is to decide whether a solution is the ideal content type for you. If your requirements involve any of the items below, then you should choose a solution:

  • You need a dedicated workspace to present and share a group of related documents (i.e., studies, reports, presentations etc.), along with news and event announcements;
  • You wish to create your own niche community around the subject field covered by your requirements, foster discussion and allow them to contribute content;
  • You need to host a software framework, tool or service directly on Joinup or via federation from external repositories.

Releases & distributions

A solution allows the creation of two additional Joinup content items within it: 1) a release and 2) a distribution. These independently created items are usually coupled together to cover the needs of versioning and hosting of open standards, frameworks, services or – most often than not – software.

The release content item is mainly responsible for the versioning, holding vital information such as a release’s name, number, notes, and documentation files/links. The distribution content item is the one hosting the actual files/links, along with the description and licence information.

Based on the description above, it is reasonable to couple these two independent content items together to allow a seamless user experience. For this reason, we highly suggest creating first the release content item and, within it, the distribution item(s). The following graph visually outlines this suggestion:

Figure 2 - Visual outline of release/distribution coupling

Release-distribution-coupling

To further emphasise this, here is a screenshot that shows the actual EIRA v2.1.0 release and its distributions (found under the EIRA solution on Joinup):

Figure 3 - An EIRA release with its distributions

EIRA-solution-example

For the user’s convenience, the solution workspace offers a dedicated option in its banner area, the button “DOWNLOAD RELEASES”, which presents the user with a visual representation of the available releases and distributions.

Figure 4 - The view when clicking the DOWNLOAD RELEASES button

Download releases

Creating a solution

To create a solution, you first need to sign in on Joinup and enter the collection in which you wish to host your solution. Please try to identify the best collection candidate, based on your requirements and subject field. Once in the collection, the next step is to become a member of the collection which will unlock the option to create Joinup content items. To do this, click on the button “JOIN THIS COLLECTION” which is located in the collection’s banner area.

Note: Most collections offer instant membership but in some cases, if the collection is of type “closed”, your membership request may need to be approved by the collection owner/facilitator.

Once you are a member of a collection, you will see the icon plus menu appear in the collection workspace. By clicking on it and selecting the option “Add solution”, you initiate the solution creation process.

This action will present you with a page occupied by mandatory and optional fields related to the solution. These are distinguished and grouped into two page tabs, the “Main fields” and “Additional fields” tabs, located at the top left of the solution creation page.

Figure 5 - The Main and Additional fields tabs

Tabs

At a minimum, you must complete the fields in the default tab (“Main fields”). The following tables provide a quick outline of the fields present in both page tabs.

Table 1 - The Main fields tab (mandatory)

Field

Description

Title

Provide an expressive title to allow users to quickly understand the solution’s purpose.

Description

Add an indicative description that covers the solution’s aims and goals. (This text will also appear in the solution’s “About” page)

Contact information

Insert up-to-date contact details that are always reachable.

Policy domain

Select the most suitable policy domains that reflect your solution’s requirements. (To select multiple values, hold down the CTRL key during the selection process)

Owner

Add the owner which is the organisation that owns the solution, and will be the only one responsible for it.

Solution type

Select the most suitable solution types that relate to your requirements. These types are based on the EIRA Building blocks. (To select multiple values, hold down the CTRL key during the selection process)

 

Note: The values you select here will also be used for linking related solutions together.

Moderated

If checked, eLibrary items (news, events, and documents) will be pre-moderated: they will have to be validated by the moderators (owner/facilitator) of the collection before they can be published.

eLibrary creation

Specify the type of user (i.e., solution facilitator or any registered user) that can create eLibrary content (news, events, and documents).

 

Table 2 - The Additional fields tab (optional)

Field

Description

Logo

Allows the inclusion of a logo. This image will appear in the solution’s tile, as well as, on the left of the solution’s title.

Banner

Permits the customisation of the solution’s banner area, by uploading your own image.

Documentation

Accepts the addition of a supporting files or URL links that could complement the solution.

Spatial coverage

Allows the inclusion of country names that are related to the solution.

Keywords

Permits the addition of keywords that are related to the solution. These keywords are also used by the platform’s search functionality.

Related solutions

Allows the manual linking of other related solutions.

Status

Allows setting the solution’s status.

Languages

Permits the definition of languages that are related to the solution. (To select multiple values, hold down the CTRL key during the selection process)

Landing page

Accepts the URL link of a homepage for the solution on an external platform.

Metric page

Allows the inclusion of a URL link to the solution’s metrics page on an external platform.

 

When all required fields have been completed, you can click on the “PROPOSE” button at the bottom of the page. This action will submit the solution for moderation by the Joinup Team. The moderation process should not take more than one working day. If the solution complies with the platform’s policies then it will be published, otherwise the Joinup Moderators may request additional information or amendments in order to proceed with its validation.

If, on the other hand, you do not yet wish to submit the solution for validation you can click on the “SAVE AS DRAFT” button. This action will store the currently inserted information and allow you to re-visit the process at a later time, leaving the solution’s information accessible only to you. To locate again the draft solution, you should click on your profile icon (top right of page) and select the option “My account” from the contextual menu; the draft solution will appear under the section “My unpublished content” in the current page.

More How-To articles are a click away

Visit our dedicated Joinup How-To space to read articles outlining in simple, yet quick, steps how to initiate and complete useful Joinup actions, and find tips on how to enhance your experience on the platform. Make sure to check this space regularly for new How-To articles!

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