Almost by Accident
As EBR falls under CSV/Excel category, a separate public converter was not really planned. However, when a client needed their EBR files converted to CWR, and our general CSV to CWR converter was still very far from being complete, we had another look at the issue. It turned out that EBR is actually CWR slimmed down and put into a spreadsheet structure. With our CWR library done and well tested, it’s reading capability was only slightly extended to handle EBR format. And then we just added a form and released it as a free tool.
Vanilla Tool versus Scripts
At the time, it seemed like an edge case, so we put absolutely no limitations on the tool. Internally we do use more complex scripts that add additional information to the CWR file, such as a list of sub-publishing entities with their respective territories. But it turned out that we mostly use the very same tool we released to the public.
Free versus Paid?
While we do have the tools, we see them as a foundation for our services, not as the service itself.
A visitor uploads an EBR file to our service and gets a CWR file, which is accepted by a sub-publisher, or even a collecting organization, and we don’t get paid. A client sends us the EBR file, we have a look at it, upload it, get a CWR file, have a look at it, and send it to the client, who sends it to a sub-publisher or a collecting organization. And we do get paid. Is it the same file?
Quite often it is. And then, quite often, it is not.
Not every visitor succeeds with the conversion. The validation errors are reported by CWR library, so it may be something like:
Error in THE WORK: SPU, field `publisher_name`: Text contains invalid characters.
Someone who is fluent in CWR, the meaning of this sentence is completely obvious. One of the controlled publisher names has characters not allowed in names in a CWR file. Not every visitor succeeds in finding and fixing the error. And there might be another error. And another.
The conversion tool has a butcher mode (as opposed to a ‘surgeon’), that deals with most instances of this type of error and few others. This very error triggered us to make this mode.
Even in normal mode, there is a significant chance that resulting CWR file is not what the user of the converter expects. Or that a receiving party will reject it because of missing data. IPI Base Numbers or Society-assigned Agreement Numbers may be good examples. Yes, they are required. Just in some collecting organizations. In butcher mode, there is a much larger chance that data in CWR will not have the same meaning the data in EBR has.