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Melvil – the German Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) Web service

From the end of November 2012, DDC Deutsch is no longer offered online by the German National Library as MelvilClass, but as WebDewey Deutsch. Information on the transition from MelvilClass to WebDewey Deutsch can be found under FAQ. The changeover from MelvilSearch to WebDewey Search will also be effected at the same time.


From 2006 until the end of 2012 the Melvil WebService was the online service of DDC Deutsch. Melvil was based on the translation of the 22nd Edition of the DDC which was published in a printed version in October 2005 by K. G. Saur Verlag (today De Gruyter Saur). Melvil included the classification tool MelvilClass and several other features including MelvilSearch, which for the first time permitted end users to conduct a word-based search of DDC-catalogued works. Other Melvil applications included MelvilSoap, MelvilRest and MelvilSnippet.

MelvilClass (see WebDewey Deutsch)

MelvilClass was a service for librarians and other users wishing to classify documents using DDC. Like its American version WebDewey, the classification tool included not only the content of the print edition but also built numbers for frequently recurring topics which could be expanded as required to reflect the needs of German-speaking users, and made searchable through additional Relative Index terms. In addition to enrichment with built numbers undertaken centrally by the German National Library, individuals or institutions were for the first time given the opportunity to store their own built numbers in a person or institution-based memory and to add further Relative Index terms. Comments could also be saved for persons or institutions in individual classes.

MelvilSearch (see WebDewey Search)

The MelvilSearch retrieval tool made global word-based searches possible for DDC-catalogued resources for the first time. Besides word-based searches in the index of the DDC Relative Index terms, users could now browse down to the deepest levels of the class hierarchies, and thus to the most specific topics. MelvilSearch met the condition for searching in DDC-catalogued titles, regardless of the provenance of the data. The millions of third-party data records present in the online catalogues of networks and libraries from the Library of Congress (LoC), the British National Bibliography, as well as the bibliographic data developed since 2006 in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie using DDC were for the first time rendered usable for content-based searches. Using MelvilSearch required a connection via a local online catalogue or network catalogue. Requests were made for matches within a particular class and in this class plus the more specific subclasses in this catalogue. Clicking on the match number effected a transfer to the respective online catalogue where the found works were displayed.

At the end of 2012, MelvilSearch was replaced by WebDewey Search.

MelvilSoap (no longer available)

MelvilSoap offered networks and libraries seeking to embed DDC in their own services the opportunity to request the classification data via a SOAP interface.

MelvilRest (no longer available)

Like MelvilSoap, MelvilRest was a service for networks and libraries seeking access to German DDC data in order to build their own services on it or to integrate the data into their own services.

In contrast to MelvilSoap, which used the more cumbersome SOAP protocol, MelvilRest was based on the REST architecture. This made it possible to request the DDC data of a particular class by URL using the schema<Notation>.</Notation>

For example, yielded the data to 025.431 (Dewey Decimal Classification) and the data to 43 in Auxiliary Panel 2 (Germany, Central Europe). The data were protected by HTTP Basic Authentication; the access data were the same as for MelvilClass.) and the data to 43 in Auxiliary Panel 2 (Germany, Central Europe). The data were protected by HTTP Basic Authentication; the access data were the same as for MelvilClass.

MelvilSnippet (no longer available)

MelvilSnippet was a service for vascoda specialist portals and other Web services which wanted to integrate DDC browsing from MelvilSearch seamlessly into their own user interface.

The service generated an XHTML snippet for portal operators which could be integrated in the portal interface. The snippet included a class hierarchy of the DDC which could be navigated with hyperlinks, as well as links to the catalogue of the portal provider which could be used to launch a search for resources that are catalogued with a specific DDC number. The snippet could be inserted into the Web page through an IFrame or the include statements of most scripting languages.

These services have been replaced through provision of the DDC data subject to Creative Commons license as linked data. The German data are currently provided via

Last update: 05.01.2017

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