ONIXEDIT Server Edition

ONIXEDIT Server Edition

ONIXEDIT Server - Case Study


In Context

Founded in 1991, the Commission de Liaison Interprofessionnelle du Livre (CLIL) in France is an association governed by law of 1901 which aims at the development of the market and the promotion of the book, the study and the improvement of the practices related to the book chain. 

The French society DILICOM mission is "the realization of all operations to facilitate the relationship between distributors, publishers and booksellers by means of computing, telematics, and other technologies, especially to accelerate the administrative processes of the book trade (orders, invoices, etc.) and the distribution of electronic catalogs".

The CLIL  administers the Fichier Exhaustif du Livre (FEL) of which she entrusted the technical management to DILICOM who collects data from distributors and publishers, analyzes them and applies a quality plan for marketing and distribution to booksellers and resellers in general.

The FEL offers book industry professionals consistent and high-quality metadata that enables the sale of books and other products available in bookstores or on cultural product shelves and facilitate their search and identification. This metadata relates to both physical products and digital products.

In 2011, CLIL and DILICOM chose the ONIX standard (ONline Information eXchange) which is an international standard for XML-based book metadata as a new standardized way to implement in France to feed the FEL and respond to new modern technological realities. Today, the FEL has more than 2 million 100% active ONIX product records.


The Client Belles Lettres Diffusion Distribution

Founded in 1919, Les Belles Lettres is a French publishing house of literature and human sciences that presents the world's largest library of classical texts, making the literary heritage of ancient civilizations accessible to the reader through meticulous research and translation work. In 2004, Les Belles Lettres created a distribution subsidiary called Belles Lettres Diffusion Distribution (BLDD) to distribute and promote the works of other publishers.

Today, our client BLDD sells more than 1,600 new products a year, offers a collection of 30,000 titles and distributes more than 200 publishers to more than 4,000 booksellers.


The Challenge of BLDD

In 2013, BLDD, predicting that ONIX will become a major standard and willing that its distributed publishers, who are modest in size, do not suffer from a lack of visibility on the web compared to bigger players of the industry, they decided to set themselves a challenge: Convert its bibliographic database to the ONIX standard, with an ONIX software able to fulfill the needs of BLDD as a distributor as well as their publishers.  That same tool should also be able to synchronize with the management database on IBM AS400. A first attempt fails in 2014, the specific objectives of BLDD (detailed below) not being achieved at that time.


In the same year 2014, the FEL CLIL Commission publishes a first version of a good practice guide based on the ONIX 3.0 standard for the French market. In addition to the mandatory elements of the ONIX 3.0 standard, the Commission has defined a list of minimum metadata that publishers and distributors must undertake to provide to be included in the FEL.

In addition, very strict constraints and application rules of the ONIX 3.0 standard are established in this document to reflect the distinctiveness of the French market (for example in terms of price, date or the values allowed in certain tags). This document is therefore additional specifications to be complied with in addition to the basic ONIX 3.0 standard.

Eager to comply with the requirements of the FEL CLIL Commission, BLDD adds them very quickly to its specifications.


The ONIXEDIT Server Solution

Following its first unsuccessful conversion attempt, BLDD is looking for an IT provider and contacts ONIXEDIT in early 2015 to explore the possibility of implementing the ONIXEDIT Server system. From the start, specific goals are set for this second attempt to be successful:

  • A conversion of the current metadata maintained on an IBM AS400 system to the ONIX 3.0 standard must be implemented. It will be necessary to use fixed length ASCII files produced daily by the AS400 system for updates to DILICOM. This is the standard Prodis4 format used by DILICOM before the implementation of the ONIX standard.
  • The new system should provide easy data exchange using fixed length text files to be compliant with the AS400 server. Of course, automated ONIX 3.0 data flows should also be provided.
  • The new system will have to provide controlled access to metadata depending on the category of users and publication status. Thus, a new unpublished book will be modifiable by anyone, while a published one, will be offer restricted access to publishers for commercial metadata.
  • The new system must be able to easily adapt to the changing requirements of the FEL CLIL commission.
  • The new system will need to incorporate CLIL classification codes.
  • The new system will have to provide an interface in French.
  • The new system should allow the definition of custom fields (non-ONIX) to meet more specific logistical needs at BLDD.

Of all BLDD requirements, CLIL themes and controlled publisher-distributor access were absent from the ONIXEDIT Server suite. These missing elements were quickly incorporated into the software. Subsequently, a conversion test was to be performed to demonstrate the feasibility of transferring metadata between AS400 and ONIXEDIT Server. A Prodis4 file was provided by BLDD in October 2015 with the Prodis format documentation. "The same day, we were able to make an ONIXEDIT import script using our flat files import / export tool and we tested this script on the supplied file and the result was sent to BLDD as a valid ONIX 3.0 file that was approved by the client.' says Raoul Guénette, CEO of ONIXEDIT. 

Following the positive result, a demonstration of the system and all its modules took place in autumn 2015 to the members of BLDD's Diffusion and Digital Development Department. During this presentation, a last challenge was imposed to the ONIXEDIT team: 

Demonstrate that the ONIX 3.0 standard and the ONIXEDIT Server suite could perfectly meet the metadata requirements specific to 3 standard sample titles with different levels of complexity and features that would prove beyond doubt that ONIXEDIT would be the right choice:

The Results

Not only was ONIXEDIT Server able to fully meet the established objectives, but its ONIXEDIT Cloud module also improved the process between the publishers and their distributor BLDD by implementing a new metadata communication method as mentioned by Mr. Christopher Bouix, Development Manager, BLDD Sales Administration:

«Since August 2016, ONIXEDIT accompanies Belles Lettres Diffusion Distribution (BLDD). This collaboration, which is based on a relationship of trust, has allowed us to improve our internal processes and streamline the way in which we communicate our metadata to the entire book chain.

One of the main challenges was to design a tool adapted to the specificities of our distributor activity and the French market. With this in mind, the entire ONIXEDIT team has been of great help: we have been able to define import / export formats between our AS400 database and our ONIX server. We also took advantage of our migration to ONIX to imagine a new, two-level operation, actively involving our publishers in the enrichment of their own metadata. This development was made possible thanks to the web interface ONIXEDIT Cloud, which we have adapted and redesigned to fit precisely with our needs. Today, all our publishers benefit from a complete bibliographic database in ONIX format, updated daily, and thus extremely valuable for their own needs (updating their website for example).

This two-level work has been particularly satisfying. After more than a year of catalogue migration on nearly 200 editorial collections and more than 30,000 ONIX records, we entered production with DILICOM at the end of 2018. Again, this crucial step would not have been done without the support of ONIXEDIT and without the development of an XSLT filter to refine our ONIX and make it conform to all the specificities of the French book industry.

Thanks to its "Dilicom certification" and the set of proposed tools (ONIXEDIT Cloud, ONIXEDIT Scheduler and the Automated Ingestion Agent), ONIXEDIT constitutes for us the most adapted and complete solution on the market. That's why this software is at the centre of many of our upcoming developments: optimization of SEO, facilitation of our inventory management, redefinition of processes, etc.

We know, for that, to be able to count on the responsiveness and listening of Mr. Guénette and his collaborators.»

… as well as Mr. Hervé Doussau , CEO of BLDD:

« I owe Pierre Bady (sales manager), Raoul Guénette and Christopher Bouix, the realization of my original idea with an accuracy rarely achieved, idea to which everyone has added welcome improvements, all in a remarkable and affordable solution.»

Some Metrics

As of May 27, 2019, the ONIXEDIT Server of BLDD:

  • Manages more than 230 ONIX 3.0 catalogues each dedicated to a publisher of the BLDD group.
  • Provides access to 240 different users via ONIXEDIT Pro and ONIXEDIT Cloud.
  • Manages over 35,000 ONIX titles.
  • Manages over 160000 custom field values.
  • Automatically imports more than 5,000 metadata updates each week.
  • Automatically transmits more than 200,000 metadata records per month in various forms to around twenty partners.

Since the implementation of ONIXEDIT Server, the Diffusion and Digital Development Department of BLDD have noted the following improvements:

  • Time saving, especially for the work of referencing titles.
  • Centralization and harmonization of the data communicated to the book chain.
  • Ability to extract data in Excel or PDF formats, presented according to the needs of the different departments (sales administration, sales department, representatives).
  • Fine management of metadata flows: schedules, frequency and sending criteria.
  • Improvement of services offered to publishers.


ONIXEDIT is a Canadian company specialized in the development of book metadata systems based on the ONIX standard. Our software and services are intended for all actors of the book chain (publishers, distributors and aggregators of metadata) which through ONIX, can exchange bibliographic, commercial and promotional information on printed or digital books. With a solid international reputation, ONIXEDIT is recognized as a leader in the management of ONIX metadata. Several publishers, distributors and metadata aggregators around the world already rely on ONIXEDIT for the processing and automation of their ONIX feeds. For more information or to plan a presentation of ONIXEDIT Server, do not hesitate to contact us. You can also visit our website here: https://onixedit.com/en-us/