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This update appeared in Alliance News, distributed on the Announce listserv on December 4, 2015:

Alma release information

This week, the Alma December release is installed on sandbox environments - the release will be installed on Alma production on Sunday morning, December 6. One point of interest:  Ex Libris has now stated monthly release dates through the 12 months of 2016. This is significant, in terms of testing expectations for 2016.

Testing of PDS removal from Primo authentication

Wade Guidry and Nathan Mealey are currently testing no-PDS (Patron Directory Services) authentication in the Alliance Primo premium sandbox, on Shibboleth. The first successful test of Shibboleth occurred on Dec 2. You can see an example presentation of no-PDS authentication on the UPUGS sandbox, at: http://alliance-primo-sb.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/primo_library/libweb/action/search.do?vid=UPUGS . Additional testing is still needed, after which results and guidelines will be shared in January. This is critical work, because most of the Alliance's Primo authentication problems have been traceable back to PDS.

Support case activity for Alliance/member institutions

Ex Libris Support is currently putting a number of Alliance and institution cases into a Pending Work Plan status. This is how the Pending Work Plan cases are managed by ExL Support:

Cases in Pending Work Plan status will be reassessed by Support and Development periodically.  If the assessment results in the issue moving into the work plan, the Case status will change to Development.  If the Case is not moved into the work plan after 24 months, the Case will change to Closing status.

Note that it is possible to appeal this decision for a case, though you should be selective in doing so. In April, ExL Senior Support Manager Brian Noone wrote

I also want you and your colleagues to know that as described in the Pending Work Plan announcement, you have the option to tell us that you don’t accept Pending Work Plan status for a case, and ask us to put the Case back into Development status.  If you choose to do this, just update the Case to indicate that you don’t think Pending Work Plan status is correct for that particular Case, and ask for it to be handed back to Development.  

Please contact Al Cornish if you have any questions on this status or case management.

Primo Toolkit Working Group update
The Primo Toolkit Working Group has begun creating documentation and step-by-step instructions for the customizations that will be included in the finished, published toolkit. In the end, based on the results of our survey to the Alliance, we'll be including 29 items that cover a range of functionality improvements and how-to guides. The goal is to make these available to everyone in late-January/early-February.

Thanks to all of you who responded to our survey!

Center of Excellence Analytics - Systems update
Wade and Mary Galvin (University of Oregon) have been pursuing, loosely under the Analytics COE, some alternative methods for constructing period comparison and rolling period reports in Alma Analytics. Wade shared a write-up on a new rolling period technique at: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1utO9US1Jywl1XdBi5UeVrjM7L1vlu4wRLdVLnvQSILI . Meanwhile, Mary has discovered some new rolling period approaches, which can be seen in report examples available in the Alma Analytics community folder at: Shared Folders Community Reports Orbis Cascade Alliance Systems.

Systems Open Call for December

This month's Systems Open Call will be on Wednesday, December 9, from 1 PM to 2 PM.