Meet the Team: James MacGregor

October 22nd, 2015 by  | Comments Off on Meet the Team: James MacGregor

Meet the Team is a new series of blog posts introducing different members of the PKP team. First up is James MacGregor. James is Publishing Services Coordinator at PKP, and ensures that PKP’s hosting, external support, consulting, and sponsored development initiatives run smoothly. PKP Publishing Services provides a significant portion of the overall PKP budget, and interest in it continues to grow unabated.

How long have you worked for PKP?

I started work with PKP officially in the fall of 2007, but I had been familiar with the Project, the staff and community since 2005 or so, given my previous work as journal production assistant at the Electronic Text Centre (ETC) at the University of New Brunswick Libraries.

How did you first learn about PKP?

It was through my work at the ETC. Back in the late 90’s/early aughts, the ETC was at the forefront of online journal publishing. The “online journal” concept back then was treated with a great deal of suspicion, if not outright hostility, as some sort of inferior, less rigorous version of print journals – much in the same way certain folks try to construe OA vs. subscription journals today. The more things change …

Anyway, my job at the time was to put some PDFs online. This was originally done by putting PDF content on a web server and manually updating HTML tables of content. Additional functionality, such as site search and subscription protection, fell to custom CGI scripts which always seemed to be giving us problems. At some point we decided to look for better systems to help us manage the process, and I was asked to complete an evaluation of prospective platforms. I only really remember evaluating BePress and OJS, though I’m sure I probably looked at others. For UNB, OJS was a clear winner: it was Open Source; we could host and manage it ourselves, thanks to our strong pool of IT folks and developers; and it was being developed in Canada, which was a bonus.

Where do you live/work?

I’m a telecommuter. I lived and worked in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant area for nine years, but I recently migrated to Nova Scotia, and am telecommuting from there. I have access to a tenth of the restaurants of Mount Pleasant, but rent is half the price, so I can’t complain.

It’s snowing here now. OK, maybe I can complain about that.


What are projects are you currently working on?

Outside of PKP|PS I am also working on the PKP Index with Kevin and Michael. It’s a really exciting project, and I am looking forward to its launch during OA Week this week. One cool thing about the project is that the long-dormant OHS github repo has woken up, with pull requests coming in from Michael. OHS is an underappreciated, underused tool, and it has been great to see it get some attention. Likewise, PKP is in a great position to offer an open, easily accessible Index to our community, something that I think has been long overdue. I expect that interest in this service is going to be very, very high.

What operating system do you use?

I’ve been working on a Mac for almost the entirety of my time with PKP. Before that, it was various flavours of Linux, usually Gentoo.

What software applications are most frequently open on your computer?

For development purposes, I use iTerm on the Mac for any shell requirements; Textmate as my development environment (very useful to work on an entire set of files as a project); Sequel Pro for MySQL database management; git for versioning and repository management; and very occasionally use Coda as a larger-scale, integrated IDE for specific web-based projects.

For project management purposes, we make use of Google Drive to share documentation; Skype, Slack and Hangouts for communication/meetings; and git for a bunch of stuff (internal code management, versioned documentation via GitBook, etc.).

How do you spend your time when not working?

These days, mostly biking. I race on the road and cyclocross, and I just love being out on my bike. It turns out that Antigonish is huge into mountain biking, so I’ve picked up a hard-tail mountain bike to try that out. Although now that I think about it I do manage to injure myself on a pretty regular basis, so you could say I spend my time between biking and laying on the couch recovering.


What did you do before coming to PKP?

I’ve been working in libraries in various roles since ‘99 or so, with most of that time at UNB Libraries. My first job there was a student position in Microforms during the school year, and then I got a Young Canada Works grant to work with the ETC on a summer digitization project. I worked there until 2007 on a number of interesting projects, including development of their OJS journals platform.

Between UNB and PKP I did a stint of tree planting in northern BC. I needed a break from computer work to remind me why computer work was so cushy. Tree planting was definitely a reminder.


What keeps you motivated on those days that seem to go on and on?

I take a great deal of personal satisfaction from the continued growth of our Publishing Services. Just a few years ago, it was an open question whether it was worth our time to provide hosting, given the resources it required to maintain relative to income generated. Publishing Services now provides a third of the funding for the entire project – given our a small team, that’s huge. It has been a real honour to be able to provide a home and support to hundreds of journals, presses and conferences over the years, and to ensure that the link between our hosted publishers and the developers is nurtured.

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