OFSET - OpenAIRE Moodle plugin for space/geospatial sector

The purpose

OpenAIRE for the space/geospatial sector (OFSET) is a service that is being offered by Planetek Hellas in the scope of the OpenAIRE - ADVANCE programme. The service integrates the OpenAIRE infrastructure to a dynamic learning platform dedicated to the space/geospatial sector, developed by Planetek within EO4GEO project. OFSET is practically a plugin that can be installed on any e-learning platform based on Moodle.

The main objective is to reach the space/geospatial community, and at the same time raise the impact of open science and OpenAIRE within the community. The purpose is to disseminate and reuse the data by providing easy access to a vast amount of scientific and scholarly records.

The value of OFSET

Vast amounts of geospatial data are being accumulated in databases and data repositories. It is a growing trend among the researchers to make their data publicly available for reproducibility and data reusability. However, use or reuse of these existing datasets for research by third parties is still not common as expected. Reuse of the data is a fast-growing field recognized as essential to realize the potentials for high quality geospatial applications, improved management, reduced costs and effective research.

OFSET functions as an OpenAIRE plug-in, a software extension that adds extra features to the Moodle e-learning platform. This extends certain functions within the learning platform, by adding a new item to the platform’s interface and providing additional capabilities. According to user requests, the plug-in is able to reach OpenAIRE data and provide them in a meaningful and well-structured way, allowing users of the platform (tutors and students) to exploit results in an optimal manner.

The OFSET plugin gives added value in the interoperability of systems and discoverability of geospatial data. It brings together forms of knowledge and information beyond the traditional sources of geospatial information and imagery by emphasizing on knowledge rather than on data and analysis. The analysis and exploitation of geospatial information depends on how easily and effectively the users can search through vast amounts of data. Reuse of data in the context of knowledge is a core concept behind the implementation of the OFSET plugin. This can enhance and foster scholarly communication, following the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) data principles.

Τhe plugin facilitates users to have easy access to open science scientific records in order to explore and exploit them and this will eventually also familiarize the users of the space/geospatial community with open access data and better engage them towards an Open Science culture.

The process

The service performs on top of the OpenAIRE infrastructure, addressing data reuse from OpenAIRE into another platform.  The implementation of a module allows to access the OpenAIRE platform and contents related to the Geospatial domain.  Upon a user’s request, the plugin is able to reach OpenAIRE data and provide them to the EO4GEO platform.

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The OFSET solution effecitvely provides a connector that extracts heterogeneous information from the OpenAIRE knowledgebase and transforms it through a process that involves 4 phases:

  • Extract the contents of OpenAIRE;
  • Process this content, according to user requests;
  • Enrich the data through annotation process and improved APIs
  • Provide all the knowledge through interoperable web services that can be used by EO4GEO

However, among the scope of the proposed work, is to further develop the existing OpenAIRE APIs and achieve better refined search results (e.g.,  reach country level in order for the users to be able to search for publications or datasets according also to the country code). OFSET adds additional geocoding features to the APIs, in order for the results to be better refined according to user location. Indicatively, when users insert specific coordinates, the service will be able to return results that have been produced for an area within those specified coordinates.  In order for the service to be better understood, we give an example of a tutor that wants to find an algorithm of a specific function (e.g. cloud masking), in order to either use to as source of creating the training material, or add it as extra educational material to his course. Searching among a large amount of scientific and scholarly records via, for example, Google search, can be overwhelming. Via the proposed plug-in and its advanced search engine, the tutor is able to find all available algorithms for this function and have immediate access to information that will help her/him identify the algorithms that systematically give the best results (e.g. access to conclusions and discussion sections, citation counts, etc.). Those results will be exploited by the tutor to her/his best interest, facilitating any decision making, with much less effort.

Generally, the OFSET plugin enables users to use an advanced search engine that makes it possible for them to request well defined information, according to their needs. In this way, users receive very well-structured and targeted to their interest results. At the same time, they have the opportunity to be redirected to the page where their search results are available for further description and the possibility to download and view the results.

OFSET in action

The OFSET plugin is integrated to the EO4GEO learning platform and is offered as a service to its users. The platform is mainly used from tutors and students of the space/geospatial sector, comprising the two main users that will have access to the OpenAIRE plugin and its results.

The solution is available at: https://gitlab.com/pkh-pub/openaire-ofset. The project is open source under GPLv3.0 license.

In the section below, we present some screenshots of the implemented service prototype, describing the workflow of the usage scenario. The homepage of EO4GEO platform is displayed below.

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Upon successful login, a user with course creation privileges (aka. tutor) can add the plugin to the system. Practically, when a tutor creates a new course in the EO4GEO Learning Management system, several options become available as group of features in the EO4GEO course.  The OFSET plugin has been already installed in the EO4GEO platform and offers OpenAIRE related functionality, integrated inside the EO4GEO platform.

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A user can make use of the plugin by clicking “add a new activity or resource” in a course.

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By clicking on the OpenAIRE plugin, a form appears (see below), where the user can perform advanced search in OpenAIRE and browse the relevant results. The form uses a set of the most popular search fields, that can be set in order to refine the returned results. At the same time the user does not need to set all these input parameters in the form, but only the ones that he considers the most valuable for his specific search. 

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Once the user has performed an OpenAIRE search, a set of results are returned. The search results are actual links to openAIRE services, that open in a separate tab, and where the user can further consult and download relevant resources.

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Then, the user can select only the results that he/she considers relevant, by clicking on the corresponding checkbox. After this procedure, the selected results are saved in the EO4GEO database and are available to all students that follow the course.

User groups and impact of OFSET to them

The prototype service integrates OpenAIRE to a dynamic learning platform dedicated to the space/geospatial sector, developed by Planetek within the EO4GEO project. EO4GEO consists of a consortium that can be seen as a Network-of-Networks spanning the whole of Europe, gathering 266 partners from 13 countries, from academia, private and public sector and active in the education/training and space/geospatial domains. EO4GEO aims to help bridging the skills gap between supply and demand of education and training in the space/geospatial sector that employs more than 60.000 individuals in Europe. Among the objectives of EO4GEO is to develop and integrate a dynamic learning platform with associated tools that provides direct access, not only to the training materials, but also to space and geospatial data, case-based learning scenarios, self-tests and other relevant materials. Practically, it is a platform designed to provide educators, administrators and learners of the space/geospatial sector with a single robust, secure and integrated system to create personalized learning environments. It is designed to support both teaching and learning and can be accessed by any device using a web browser.

Additionally, the plugin can be installed in every Moodle platform. Moodle is an Open-Source Initiative and is compliant with many open standards and protocols. It is a popular e-learning platform and a course management system (CMS) that is community driven and globally supported. It is interoperable by design to enable integration of external applications and information onto a single platform.

The application domain

OpenAIRE is a service that makes it easier for people to view and share geospatial data. Geospatial domain technologies provide data for a number of industries that include the military, utility companies, urban planners and industrial engineers. The application of geospatial data is useful for biodiversity conservation, forest fire suppression, agricultural monitoring, humanitarian relief and any field that could benefit from better visualization and analysis of geographic data.

Some of the most common geospatial technologies include the following:
  • Remote Sensing
  • Geographic Information System (GIS)
  • Software for mapping a specific geographic location anywhere on Earth and analyze geospatial data.
  • Space or airborne camera and sensor platforms provide imagery and data.
  • Global Positioning System (GPS, Galileo)
  • Internet Mapping Technologies

Sustainability of OFSET

Planetek Hellas has been since many years providing successful solutions in the domain of geospatial training/e-learning using the best available web infrastructure. Taking into account that one of the main objectives of the EO4GEO project is to ensure the sustainability of the network and of the produced results, the integration/exploitation of the OpenAIRE infrastructure through the proposed solution, provides an excellent opportunity to ensure further its longevity.

In order to maintain / grow a user base the following are needed.

  • Engagement of active users of the EO4GEO platform, via the demonstration of the advantages of the proposed service.

  • Promoting activities for the attraction of future users.

  • Uploading the plugin in the central Moodle plugin directory (https://moodle.org/plugins) thus rendering it available to a vast community of researchers/platform users.

The OFSET plugin is being developed using Planetek’s inhouse infrastructure. Azure DevOps Server is being used to place source code, test configuration data, etc. under version control. It allows checking the state of test software configuration in order to control the evolution and control access rights to the persons involved in the project in a controlled manner. The used versioning engine for our project is Git. The main functionalities are the following:

  • store the source code under (semantic) version control (GIT)
  • manage the work team according AGILE method
  • implement a continuous integration process to build and test the code
  • manage dashboard to check the project status

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Microsoft SharePoint is also being used in the OFSET project in order to manage:

  • the project organization;
  • the work breakdown structure;
  • the project schedule at sub-work page level;
  • a list of all deliverables and actions with responsibilities and required dates.

Planetek Hellas is using a management tool named PWA (Project Web Application), which is actually a custom installation of Microsoft SharePoint. PWA highlights the critical tasks and allow to identify a lack of resources (a possible delay) before the problems arise.

The access to PWA Project repository is allowed to the Team. The PWA (Project Web App) tool is a web client application of Microsoft Office Project Server. It stores project information in a central SQL Server database protected from unauthorized access. For each project Microsoft Project Server creates a workspace (Microsoft SharePoint) where the team share documents. By PWA it is possible to maintain in an automatic way the whole inventory of the documents and objects related to the project in all their versions and prevent the ambiguity of the document’s name among all the Planetek Hellas documents. Planetek Hellas intranet site (that is also accessible via Internet) allows access to all the project documentation.

Validation & verification activities

The objective of the validation & verification activities is to confirm that the services have been built in the right configuration and with the expected technical performance level. The software verification process is meant to check software against a set of specifications, which are meant to represent the design choices made during the system architecture design and development processes. Software validation instead aims at validating with respect to the system requirements defined for the customer. 

To properly address all Project Requirements, we intend to apply the following procedure. Each Requirement will be tracked with a Validation Plan. The Validation Plan will describe how we intend to make sure that the associated Requirement is both implemented and the implementation is a valid one. Once all Requirements are properly addressed with a Validation Plan, we will move to the next phase where each Validation Plan will be executed and a Acceptance Test will be reported for each Plan. The output of a Acceptance Test will include a short description, explaining any potential notes regarding the execution of the Acceptance Test, along with a Pass or Fail status, stating if the Acceptance Test was successfully executed. The results of all Acceptance Tests will be included in a separate document, called Acceptance Test Report.

Report Generation

The Acceptance Test Report will be auto-generated by the Issue Tracking system that is used by Planetek Hellas. The Test Report will be structured containing all the Validation Plans. For each Validation Plan, the following information will be present:

  • Validation Plan ID: The ID of the Validation Plan.
  • Validation Plan Description: A detailed description of how the validation plan is intended to be used to check the Requirements of the System.
  • Requirements: The list of Requirements that are covered by this Validation Plan.
  • Execution Date: The date the Validation Plan was executed
  • Status: The status of the execution plan, it can be Pass or Fail.

All the Validation Plans will be inserted in the Azure DevOps Server tool used by Planetek Hellas, in order to be able to track those Validation Plans.

Related OpenAIRE Products/Services

OFSET makes use of the OpenAIRE HTTP API that allows developers to access metadata records of the OpenAIRE Research Graph and is intended for metadata discovery and exploration. It does not give direct access to publication files and it does not provide access to the whole information space: the number of total results returned by one query is limited to 10,000.

The APIs are free-to-use* (no sign-up needed) by any third-party service. The APIs provide information and related metadata about publication specific parameters, research data specific parameters, software related metadata and other research products related metadata.  The OpenAIRE API endpoints that are being queried by the form provided by OFSET, are the following:

Publications: http://api.openaire.eu/search/publications

Datasets: http://api.openaire.eu/search/datasets

Software: http://api.openaire.eu/search/software

Other research products metadata: http://api.openaire.eu/search/other

Parameters included in this section can always be specified, regardless the type of entities (metadata about publications, research data, software, other research products, or projects) that a user wants to retrieve. More specific the following OpenAIRE APIs are used in OFSET.

The OpenAIRE EXPLORE Service ( https://explore.openaire.eu ), that corresponds to the OpenAIRE Discovery Portal that provides access to Open Access research content, is also being used. The OpenAIRE-EO4GEO plugin users are being redirected to OpenAIRE EXPLORE entries for additional information on their search results, taking advantage of the well-formed OpenAIRE EXPLORE research outcomes as well.

Additionally, Zenodo is used as an open repository for all the educational material created for the EO4GEO platform. The research outputs that will be used for the creation of the educational courses provided through the EO4GEO platform are using Zenodo as a repository not only for the courses, but also for potential code examples etc., making in this way scientific outputs of all kinds citable, shareable and discoverable for the long term.

The service is also following the OpenAIRE Guidelines for data archives and software repositories in order to ensure interoperability.

*NOTE: The plugin has constraints in its APIs rate limits imposed by the OpenAIRE platform.


The OpenAIRE OFSET plugin is provided as a Moodle plugin that is being installed in the EO4GEO learning platform. The integration of the OpenAIRE OFSET plugin into EO4GEO – but also to any other learning management system based on Moodle – follows the installation procedure that is being defined for all other Moodle plugins. In general, Moodle plugins enable the administrators of the learning platform to add additional features and functionality to Moodle, such as new activities, new quiz question types, new reports, integrations with other systems and many more.
To install a plugin, its source code must be put (deployed) into the appropriate location inside the Moodle installation directory and the main administration page Administration > Site administration > Notifications must be visited. The OpenAIRE OFSET plugin can be deployed into Moodle in two ways: Either by uploading a ZIP file or by deploying it manually at the server.

Installing via uploaded ZIP file

The web server process has to have write access to the plugin type folder (activity modules and resources) where the new plugin is to be installed in order to use either of these methods. In order to install the OpenAIRE OFSET plugin into a Moodle installation the following steps have to be followed:

  1. Download the OpenAIRE OFSET plugin zip file: openaire-ofset.zip from the → Gitlab repository.
  2. Login to your Moodle site as an admin and go to Administration > Site administration > Plugins > Install plugins.
  3. Upload the ZIP file. You should only be prompted to add extra details (in the Show more section) if your plugin is not automatically detected.
  4. If your target directory is not writeable, you will see a warning message.
  5. Check the plugin validation report.

Installing manually at the server

If deployment of the plugin code via the administration web interface is not successful, then the user has to copy it to the server file system manually (e.g. if the web server process does not have write access to the Moodle installation tree to do this for you).

  1. The correct place in the Moodle code tree for our plugin type is: /path/to/moodle/mod/ - activity modules and resources
  2. Download the OpenAIRE OFSET plugin zip file openaire-ofset.zip from this repository.
  3. Upload or copy it to your Moodle server.
  4. Unzip it under /path/to/moodle/mod/ - activity modules and resources, which is the right place for this plugin type.
  5. In your Moodle site (as admin) go to Site administration > Notifications (you should get a message saying the plugin is installed).

The OpenAIRE OFSET plugin has been developed in compliance with the latest Moodle version.




The following section includes information regarding the project team and the list of names and location of personnel that carried out the R&D activities. All the R&D activities have been carried out in Planetek Hellas premises.

The following table, provides information on the effort spent during the first phase of the project.

  • Stelios Bollanos, Contract Manager
  • Maria Ieronymaki, Project Coordinator (Contact person)
  • Stratos Gerakakis, System Architect
  • Ilias Ioannou, Software Engineer
  • Yiota Spastra, Business Development Expert
  • Christina Ntoka, Test Leader
  • Ilias Ioannou, Tester
  • Liza Koumi, Tester

Social media of PLANETEK HELLAS

Twitter: https://twitter.com/planetekhellas

LinkedIn: https://gr.linkedin.com/company/planetek-hellas

FB: https://www.facebook.com/PlanetekHellas

flag black white lowOpenAIRE-Advance receives
funding from the European 
Union's Horizon 2020 Research and
Innovation programme under Grant
Agreement No. 777541.


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