Explore Heritage Resources with a Map Interface

by Jonathan Jacobsen Monday, October 31, 2016 11:31 AM

Maps are a wonderful way to explore a collection that has a geographic aspect. Zooming, panning and clicking pins are a fun and interactive means for users to discover resources, as well as to see the spatial relationship between them. 

Some example uses for a map interface are to plot items such as:

  • Photographs taken around the world.
  • Landmarks and historic places or streets.
  • Public art on city streets.
  • Artifacts found or manufactured in various locations.

Over the years, Andornot has added geographic features to many projects, ranging from very simple links to Google maps showing a single point, to dynamic applications that plot multiple records on a single map, scaling the map up and down as new resources are added to the underlying database.

Andornot's map interfaces can be added to our Andornot Discovery Interface as well as used with Inmagic WebPublisher PRO and our Andornot Starter Kit.

The examples below are intended to give you ideas for adding a map interface to your collection, ranging from full featured dynamic interfaces down to very simple links to Google Street Views.

Dynamic Map Interface

The Ontario Jewish Archives' Jewish Landmarks of Ontario is an excellent example of a dynamic map interface. Pins are drawn on an open source map based on the latitude and longitude in records in the underlying database.

The map automatically zooms out to encompass all the available pins, but users can easily zoom in to an area of particular interest, with the pins rearranging to show as many as can fit on the screen.

Any pin can be clicked to bring up more details about the location.

Using filters at the top of the interface, the range of pins shown can be limited by time period and category.

This particular map interface has the Andornot Discovery Interface behind it, for full-featured textual searching as well as geographic browsing.

Static Image Map

Not every organization has the budget for the dynamic map interface above, but can still add a geographic search option using static image maps. In web development, an image map is any image with coordinates applied to it. 

For example, in these maps of the City of Richmond, coordinates allow users to click on current and historic planning areas, as well as legal lot descriptions, to view associated records, which are themselves maps (yes, a map to search for a map!).

The Heritage Burnaby Charting Change Atlas is another example of static maps with overlaid data.

These static maps are relatively quick and simply to create, but do have the disadvantage of not scaling up or down in size for mobile devices. And of course, they don't show results on map, only the overall geographic area, so they don't give users a sense of how records are arranged geographically. But still, with minimal effort, they add a new starting point to any search.

Simple Map or Street View Link

Our last example shows a link in a single search result, for a building, to its location in a Google map. This doesn't help a user to search geographically, but can at least direct them to a physical place once they find something of interest. This could be combined with either of the above map interface ideas to provide more than one geographic feature.

GIS Systems, HistoryPin and More

If your organization has an existing GIS system, especially one made publicly available as is the case in many municipalities, you might be able to layer your cultural collections into that system. People can use all the features of the existing GIS system to search and browse your region, with the choice to enable a cultural layer showing information about artifacts, photos, buildings, etc. in your historic collections.

Another option to explore is to add content to web services that already have a mapping component, such as HistoryPin.

Most of the above ideas are based on your records having latitude and longitude information in them. It's not too hard to add this, based on place names. Andornot can help to "geocode" your data so it's ready for any of these map interface ideas.

As you can see with the above examples, there's a mapping option available for every budget and need, and for different types of collections.

Contact us to discuss giving a fun, interactive new face to any of your collections.

SLA Western Canada Chapter 2016 Year End Event Featuring Alexandra Samuel

by Jonathan Jacobsen Wednesday, October 26, 2016 10:10 AM

Andornot is happy to be once again sponsoring the SLA Western Canada Chapter Year End Event, on November 22, 2016. This year's guest speaker is Alexandra Samuel. As a member of the Wall Street Journal's experts panel and author of Work Smarter with Social Media (Harvard Business Review Press), Alexandra is uniquely positioned to help information professionals leverage the data around them. Find her sharing thoughts on this topic and more on Twitter @awsamuel.

Where: BCIT Downtown Vancouver, The Atrium (room 825), 555 Seymour Street, Vancouver, BC

When: Tuesday, November 22, 2016, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Program: Check-in, catered snacks, cash bar, and networking from 6 PM. Keynote address from 7 PM.

Tickets: Tickets can be purchased online at Brown Paper Tickets and your name will be added to the guest list at the door. Should you wish to sponsor a ticket for a student, you may purchase that option along with your ticket and event organizers will contact you with further details.

This event is open to all information professionals, so please share with those outside of SLA.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Tags: events

To Print or Not to Print URLs in the Twitter Bootstrap Framework

by Jonathan Jacobsen Tuesday, October 11, 2016 11:32 AM

Andornot uses the Twitter Bootstrap framework for almost all our web application development these days. This framework saves considerable development time, with so much pre-built, and allows a single site to adapt to the viewing device, meaning a search engine such as the Andornot Discovery Interface, works just as well on a tablet or phone as in a desktop browser.

One of the "features" of this framework is the display of URLs in print views. By default, the print stylesheet appends the URL of a hyperlink to the hyperlink text in print view. For example, a link to the Andornot website with the text “Learn more about Andornot” would appear in a printout as

Learn more about Andornot. http://www.andornot.com

This is a very helpful automatic feature, as without it, you’d have a print view without the URLs needed to get to the sites mentioned. It's great when the URLs are short, but when they are long, such as a pre-created search for a set of results, or anything with lots of parameters in it, they tend to make for a print view cluttered with not very useful HTML.

For example, a link whose text is “View information about Fish and Fisheries” might have a URL such as http://www.someserver.org/Search/Results?lookfor=Fishes+OR+Fisheries+OR+Fishing+OR+%22Juvenile+fish%22+OR+%22Resident+fish%22+
OR+%22Sport+fish%22+OR+Sportfish+OR+Eulachon+OR+Anadromous+OR+Trout+
OR+Salmon+OR+Coho+OR+Chinook+OR+Sockeye+OR+Fishway*&type=AllFields
&limit=20&sort=relevance

This is too long a URL for anyone to retype, so it’s not useful to have in the print view. It just makes the plain text hard to read.

(As an aside, see our recent blog post about URL shortening for tips on using short URLs in blog posts, Tweets, Facebook posts, etc.).

A very simple adjustment you can make to Bootstrap is to add this bit of CSS to your stylesheet, overriding the Bootstrap default:

@media print {

  a[href]:after {

    content: none;

  }

}

This will suppress the display of URLs after links in all cases. You might want to be more sophisticated and only suppress them for certain types of links, ones you know will be long, while leaving the behaviour as-is for shorter ones. Easily done by adding a class to certain links and adjusting the above style addition to reflect that class.

Contact Andornot for assistance with this and any similar web development tweaks.

ARLIS Launches Susitna Doc Finder VuFind Catalog

by Jonathan Jacobsen Monday, October 10, 2016 1:09 PM

Over the past couple of years, Andornot has helped the Alaska Resources Library & Information Services (ARLIS) launch, then upgrade, a VuFind-powered catalog of Alaska North Slope natural gas pipeline work from the past 40 years. 

A second VuFind catalog has recently been added to the ARLIS site: the Susitna Doc Finder

The Susitna Doc Finder is a comprehensive catalog of documents that have resulted from every phase of the historic 1980s Susitna Hydroelectric Project (SuHydro Project), as well as those documents continually being produced since 2010 under the current Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project (SuWa Project).

Records for this catalog are managed in both a MARC cataloguing ILS, as well as a local Inmagic DB/TextWorks database. Exports from both are indexed nightly by VuFind, using heavily customized import mappings and additional fields and browse indexes. 

Almost all records link to PDF reports from the project. Text is extracted from these and indexed, to complement the excellent initial metadata. 

Cover images of these PDF reports are generated during indexing and appear in search results, in several sizes, both for visual interest, and to give a glimpse of a report before clicking to download it.

The web interface uses a VuFind theme built from the ever-popular Twitter Bootstrap responsive web framework. Almost all of Andornot's web projects use this or a similar responsive framework to provide the same level of access on devices of all sizes and shapes, from full-size desktop browsers down to tablets and phones.

Results from this VuFind system are also available through Google, as Google has crawled and indexed the VuFind system.

Further information:

Contact us to discuss options for a discovery interface style of search for your catalogue or other collection, using VuFind or the Andornot Discovery Interface.

The Many Uses of Shortening

by Jonathan Jacobsen Tuesday, September 20, 2016 9:42 AM

Shortening is a wonderful thing: in baking it makes pies and cakes light and fluffy, and on the web, it makes long, unwieldy URLs short and manageable. This blog post is all about the second usage, but we can think about the first as we read it.

You might wonder why you should care about short URLs. After all, isn't a long one like 

http://www.cjhn.ca/en/experience/image-galleries/gallery.aspx?q=dolls&name=&topic=&setName=&year_tis=&numbers=MA+15&onlineMediaType_facet=Image

a perfectly good URL?

Sure, your web browser will have no trouble with that and will access the web site and cause it to run the search specified by all those parameters.

But what if you want to share this URL via email or on Twitter, or post it to a blog or Facebook. That URL is 144 characters, so it's not going to fit in a tweet.

Long URLs are often wrapped to two or more lines in an email and sometimes this breaks the URL itself, resulting in a bad link.

And, as the Canadian Jewish Heritage Network discovered recently, posting long URLs with many parameters to Facebook is problematic. When posting the URL above, Facebook stripped out all the equals signs, leaving a non-functioning URL. Who knows why Facebook would do this, but happily, there’s an easy workaround for this, one that lends itself well to emailing and tweeting long URLs too: URL shortening services.

As Wikipedia tells us, "URL shortening is a technique on the World Wide Web in which a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) may be made substantially shorter and still direct to the required page. This is achieved by using a redirect, often on a domain name that is even shorter than the original one, which links to the web page that has a long URL."

In practice, this means that a long URL such as

http://www.cjhn.ca/en/experience/image-galleries/gallery.aspx?q=dolls&name=&topic=&setName=&year_tis=&numbers=MA+15&onlineMediaType_facet=Image

can be shortened to something like

These fit handily in Tweets, blog posts, emails and are not edited by Facebook when posting there.

You might now ask, is this the same as a permalink? Well, it is a link, and a short one, so it’s close, but there's no guarantee of permanence, as you're reliant on a third-party service to keep the redirect in place indefinitely. Although that may happen, it's probably better to think of these as short but disposable URLs, like a post-it note you stick on a desk or document pointing at something.

Some of the most common URL shortening services are: 

So when you next need to send or post a long URL, especially one with lots of parameters and query strings, give one of these a try.

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