Omeka CMS for Virtual Exhibits

by Jonathan Jacobsen Friday, December 27, 2013 9:15 AM

From time to time we select new and usually open-source applications to add to our stable of recommended products. Recently we've started working with Omeka, a content management system (CMS) for online digital collections. With Omeka, you can quickly build a searchable repository of archival or artifact records and assemble them into virtual exhibits to showcase your holdings. Omeka is a great choice for archives, museums and historical societies.

Key Features

Most content management systems are designed to manage a single website with a hierarchy of pages, in which are placed text and other media. In contrast, Omeka is based around items (e.g. historic documents, photographs, audio or video recordings, etc.) which can be arranged into collections and most importantly, exhibits – pages of items.

Over time, the same item, entered only once, can be re-used in multiple exhibits.

Exhibits can have their own unique "theme" (a combination of graphic design and page layout) to differentiate them from other exhibits. Within an exhibit you can create multiple separate pages, and each can present a different layout of text, images, video and other elements.

An easy-to-use web interface provides site adminstrators with access to all the important back-end features: configuring the site appearance and navigation, uploading items (individually or in batches, such as from a DB/TextWorks export), changing themes, and creating information pages as well as exhibits.

Omeka’s features puts content management and virtual exhibit building in your hands, with no technical support needed to launch new exhibits.


Omeka was developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University and is in widespread use by libraries and archives across North America. A list of some sites powered by Omeka is available here, but there may be many more unreported uses.

Some examples include:

Learn More

  • This video provides a brief but excellent overview of Omeka’s features.
  • This video shows usage of the Exhibit Builder plugin to create a new exhibit.
  • This web page provides an overview of Omeka and its many uses.

Andornot can help you install and configure Omeka locally, or hosted with our managed hosting service. Contact us to discuss your needs today.

How To Show Google Book Covers in Presto for DB/TextWorks

by Jonathan Jacobsen Wednesday, December 18, 2013 9:43 AM

When we build web search interfaces for bibliographic databases with our Andornot Starter Kit or Andornot Discovery Interface, we usually include code to fetch book cover images from Google Books. Javascript on the search results pages takes the ISBNs from the bibliographic records and passes them into the Google Books API. If Google Books has a record, the cover image is displayed, as a link to more info in the Google Books database. This adds visual appeal to predominantly textual pages and provides users with valuable additional information about the work.

If you’re using Presto for DB/TextWorks as the web search interface to your database, you can configure it to show Google book covers as well. All you need is our Google book cover script and some experience editing Presto screens.

Here are the steps to take to add Google Book covers to your Presto for DB/TextWorks site.

1. Download the Andornot Google Books script here. As noted in the file, these are offered under an MIT open source license. You are free to use reuse, redistribute, modify etc. this script as long as the license text within it is retained.

2. As described in the Presto Administrator’s Guide, a custom script file called CustomCommonScripts.js is included on every page. So, just copy the contents of Andornot’s Google Books script into this file, which you’ll find in <Presto-install-path>\WebApps\Mercury\jscript\CustomCommonScripts.js (if the file doesn’t exist yet, just create it). The script relies on the jQuery javascript library, but that’s already included in Presto.

3. To use the script, you just need to wrap the ISBN from a record inside a div with the class “isbn”, like this:

 <div class="isbn">9780140187465</div>

To do this, you will need to edit the detail screen for your catalogue content type to add three Custom Value Controls. The Presto Administrator’s Guide has more information and examples of these. 

The first custom value control will contain only this bit of HTML:  <div class="isbn">

The second custom value control will contain the ISBN data field (you’ll want to select the option to suppress hit highlighting on it).

The third custom value control will contain the closing div:  </div>

All three will be associated with the ISBN field, so they will only appear on the detail screen when there’s data in that field.

Our Google Books script will look for the “isbn” div and replace the contents within it with a call to the Google Books API for the cover image, if available.

ISBN’s often have more than just straight numbers in them. Sometimes there’s punctuation or trailing text. Our Google Books script is pretty good at ignoring all of that, so don’t worry about cleaning up your ISBNs first.

Have fun!

Cloudy with a chance of ...

by Jonathan Jacobsen Monday, December 16, 2013 11:04 AM

Thinking of moving to the cloud? As in, thinking of outsourcing the hosting of data and applications to a network of servers located… somewhere? managed by…. someone? While cloud computing offers a seemingly easy option for managed hosting and ubiquitous access to your applications and data, as with everything in life, it may come with a price.

We recently came across this excellent checklist for those considering a move to the cloud, prepared by the Law Society of B.C.: 

Though written for law firms considering cloud computing, the extensive questions it encourages you to ask of yourself and your potential cloud provider are invaluable.

Andornot has been hosting databases and web applications on servers we own and manage, in a secure data centre in Vancouver, Canada, for many years. We offer personal service to every client who hosts with us, and havemany satisfied clients. Contact us for more details.

Andornot's December Newsletter Now Available

by Jonathan Jacobsen Friday, December 06, 2013 10:39 AM

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