The challenge: creating a travelling virtual exhibit for locations with no internet access.

by Kathy Bryce Wednesday, September 15, 2010 10:47 AM

UFA Co-operative Limited celebrated their centennial last year and has created a virtual exhibit, 101 Years of Enriching Rural Life which features artifacts, music and an interactive display.   In 1909, farmers across Alberta joined together to create a co-operative that would improve conditions for agricultural producers and bring modern conveniences to rural areas. From 1921-1935 UFA was a political party and formed the provincial government, and since then it has expanded into businesses including agriculture, petroleum, construction and outdoor adventure.  UFA now has 120 locations throughout Alberta, BC and Saskatchewan.

The centennial exhibit is travelling throughout rural Alberta, often to very small centres with no resources or technical support to set up a public internet connection in the local museum.  The UFA archives uses Inmagic DB/TextWorks and the Andornot Archives Starter Kit to manage their archival accessions, descriptions and artifacts, so they asked us if we could help create a display of their photos and digitized documents.
UFA screenshot
Our solution was to use the free, search only, version of DB/TextWorks. This has been loaded onto the PC that gets shipped around to the various locations along with its display stand and monitor.  We created a subset of the textbase with a specially designed menu screen and display forms.   All the menu screen links were to saved sets within the database and the Options were set to always show results in the Report window to avoid users ever seeing a query screen.   Virtually all the icons were stripped off the toolbars, and script buttons added for users to navigate through the records viewing descriptive information and the images themselves.  This ensures that people who have never seen DB/TextWorks before can simply click to view information.

The image file paths had to be batch modified for the subset exhibit database and of course any changes had to be made using the full version of DB/TextWorks. This meant a lot of copying over textbases again every time a minor change was needed.  Designing for the low resolution small monitor for the travelling exhibit was also a challenge. However, now that the procedure is in place, the database can be updated to add new material regularly, ie. for a new town on the exhibit circuit.

“The exhibit has been popular and importantly is easy for people to use.  The staff member at the exhibit's current location had extremely little computer experience and was quite comfortable exploring the database within minutes. The United Farmers Historical Society (UFHS) is pleased that it was able to utilize the software it already owned  and records that had been previously created;  Andornot's solution saved UFHS both time and money.” [Carolyn Foard, History Coordinator, UFA Co-operative Limited.]

The DB/TextWorks search-only version can also be used to master DVDs for distribution or to provide a search only version of the textbases for public use.  Check out the DB/TextWorks online help under Run-time version or contact Andornot for more information.  Ultimately most organizations would choose to use WebPublisher PRO to provide a web based search interface to their databases, but this project shows what is still possible with limited resources!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Month List