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Online exhibits in Plone


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Museums, libraries, art institutes, and many other types of organizations need online exhibits - websites that mimic the experience of walking through a gallery discovering interesting and beautiful …

Museums, libraries, art institutes, and many other types of organizations need online exhibits - websites that mimic the experience of walking through a gallery discovering interesting and beautiful objects. Commercial museum collections management systems often provide this, but they are expensive and their features are often limited or require extensive customization. Open source exhibit software has proliferated in recent years, and some of these systems now provide features that approach CMS functionality. But what if you are starting with Plone, which is already a full-featured CMS?

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection is engaged in a major website redesign, and they have selected Plone as their CMS. Online exhibits will be an important part of their new website. They envisioned many features, such as image panning and zooming, timelines, favorites, and object comparison, and they also envisioned that online exhibits would be easy for content editors - even interns - to assemble. In this talk I will describe the online exhibit package that we have created for Dumbarton Oaks, and our incremental approach to defining and implementing it.

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  • 1. Online Exhibits in Plone A Project Sponsored By Dumbarton Oaks Sally Kleinfeldt, Jazkarta Plone Symposium East May, 23 2012Image of Byzantine seal ©2012 Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC, Trustees for Harvard University.All Rights Reserved.
  • 2. Online Exhibits• Mimic the experience of walking through a gallery discovering interesting and beautiful objects• Used by museums, libraries, art institutes, galleries, archives
  • 3. Commercial Exhibit Software• Usually found in museum collections management systems - expensive• Features can be limited or require extensive customization
  • 4. Open Source Exhibit Software• Choices proliferating• From simple to CMS-like
  • 5. Open Source Exhibit Software• Omeka - - Publish collections with Dublin Core metadata, exhibit plugin with predesigned templates• Pachyderm - - Multimedia authoring with predesigned templates• Open Exhibits - - Flash based templates with multitouch interfaces
  • 6. Open Source Exhibit Software• GLAM-Kit - - Django based content publishing system for cultural institutions• OpenCollection - - Collection management• CollectionSpace - - Collection management
  • 7. Exhibit Management vs. Content Management• Simple online exhibit systems like GLAMkit add features over time• They begin to seem like a content management system...
  • 8. Exhibits in Plone• If you are starting with Plone, a full-featured CMS, what do you need to make exhibits?
  • 9. Exhibits in Plone• Nothing - sort of• Features needed are there already• But it takes a skilled content editor and time
  • 10. Dumbarton Oaks
  • 11. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection• An institute of Harvard University dedicated to supporting scholarship in Byzantine, Garden and Landscape, and Pre-Columbian studies• Museum, gardens, fellowships, meetings, publications and exhibits• Located in Georgetown
  • 12. Dumbarton Oaks• Outgrew their static website• Researched CMSes and chose Plone• Partnered with Jazkarta to do a major website redesign and reimplementation• Migrated content with funnelweb, new theme designed by Might & Main, new navigation, new content, custom types for rare books, Byzantine seals, images
  • 13. Before
  • 14. After
  • 15. Dumbarton Oaks Exhibits• Online exhibits will be an important part of the new site• Have tried Omeka, want something better• Want to be able to create exhibits in Plone • Must be easy for content editors - even interns - to create • Many ideas for features - image panning and zooming, timelines, favorites, comments
  • 16. Make It Open Source!• Dumbarton Oaks decided to create a general purpose, open source Plone package for easy to create online exhibits• This will benefit the whole community and make Plone more attractive to museums• Thank you Dumbarton Oaks!
  • 17. The Team• Kathy Sparkes, Dumbarton Oaks Director of Publications and Project Owner• Prathmesh Mengane, Michael Sohn, and Lisa Wainwright, Dumbarton Oaks web development team• Sally Kleinfeldt, Project Manager• Carlos de la Guardia and Alec Mitchell, Developers• Kevin Brooks and Arielle Walrath of Might & Main, UI/UX Design
  • 18. Development Process
  • 19. Development Process• Agile, iterative development process • Described here: 2012/01/20/agile-development-with-plone- revisited/• Exhibit requirements were fuzzy, we knew getting this right would require multiple passes
  • 20. Discovery• Brainstorming and discussions with stakeholders• Focused on examples of online exhibits they like• Users had been experimenting with Omeka - lots of thoughts about what they liked and did not like
  • 21. Inspirational Examples• Exhibitions/Men/ and /Beauty/• John_Carter_Brown_Library/drugs/• SpecialCollection/nancy/
  • 22. Inspirational Examples• exhibits/johnson/••
  • 23. Take 1• Exhibit - folderish type containing pages, a media folder, and exhibit items• Exhibit Items - reference other content items, provide a place for commentary on the item in the context of the exhibit
  • 24. Feedback on Take 1• The “Exhibit” thing is like an exhibit section, there will be more than one of them in an exhibit - need another level of hierarchy• It is too clunky and time consuming to create everything one at a time
  • 25. Take 2• Three levels: exhibit, section, item• Batch create of sections when creating an exhibit• Section edit provides batch create of items from content references• Mechanism for creating template pages• UI/UX design
  • 26. Feedback on Take 2• This week!
  • 27. Take 3• Implement views shown in wireframes• Additional requested features, tweaks• CSS styling
  • 28. collective.exhibit
  • 29. collective.exhibit•• 3 Dexterity content types• Custom views• Custom portlet• Control panel
  • 30. Exhibit Item• References a content item• Provides exhibit-specific commentary via override fields for title, description, body text, image• View allows navigation among a section’s items• Checks schema of referenced item looking for an image field, prompts for image upload if not
  • 31. Exhibit Section• Groups related Exhibit Items• Can be used standalone for simple exhibits
  • 32. Exhibit• Contains sections, pages, and other content items determined by site customization• Functionality for choosing from site template pages• Provides exhibit navigation via a portlet
  • 33. Template Pages• In addition to sections, exhibits typically provide other background information• Make it easy to create new exhibits by providing site specific templates for these informational pages• Package provides a few generic template pages to start with (About, Further Reading)
  • 34. Template Pages• On package install, a folder is created at site root containing generic template pages• Site admins can modify and add to items in templates folder• Any type of content can be added • Collections with eea.facetednavigation, Simile timelines via eea.daviz, ...
  • 35. Template Pages• Why a folder at site root to hold template pages? • It’s a bit ugly to affect site content • Possible alternative: persistent storage inside a local utility• Quick and easy solution• Editing normal content is a familiar tool for site admins
  • 36. Template Homepages• Exhibit have a rich text field that serves as the homepage• Eliminates need to set a default page• Site template folder allows admins to provide a selection of homepage styles (single image, slider, image map, etc.)
  • 37. Control Panel• Choose what content types can be referenced by exhibit items• Choose what content types can be added to exhibits• Other ideas?
  • 38. Image Panning and Zooming• Ability to closely examine a high res image is important to DOaks site and part of exhibit functionality• We licensed "Smooth Zoom Pan - jQuery Image Viewer" from • pan-jquery-image-viewer/511142
  • 39. Image Panning and Zooming• This commercial software is not in the exhibit package• Some exhibits may require ultra-high resolution tiled image zooming (like Seadragon)• May be best to not make an explicit implementation choice in the package
  • 40. Status of collective.exhibit• Take 3 will happen May 28th to June 15th • Adding portlet, wireframe views, homepage templates, control panel, styling• Release to pypi soon after
  • 41. Sprint?• We’d love to experiment with using Deco tiles as a way to customize exhibit layouts• Other potential topics: • User commenting • User favorites (reuse code from GLAM- kit?)
  • 42. Questions, Discussion