is media Ltd
Web Authoring Strategy
Web Authoring Strategy 1
1 Executive Summary 3
1.1 Structure 3
1.2 Proposals 3
2 Web Published Outcomes 4
2.1 Aims of EPE 4
2.2 Published outcomes 4
2.3 Communications Site 5
2.4 The Explore site 5
2.5 Education materials 9
2.6 Accessibility 10
3 Content Requirements 11
3.1 Items 11
3.2 Sources of Assets 11
3.3 Status of project 12
4 Content Flows in CMS/ DAS 13
4.1 Definition of components 13
4.2 Communications content generation 14
4.3 Asset generation/ metadata capture 14
4.4 Editorial control 16
4.5 Content flow chart 18
4.6 Training 18
5 System Architecture 19
5.1 Architectural components 19
5.2 Software components 21
SOAP and REST interfaces 21
6 Milestones 22
6.1 Development of system 22
6.2 County 22
6.3 National 22
7 Future Development of site 23
7.1 Response to feedback 23
7.2 Mapping data 23
7.3 Cost of Development 23
1 Supplementary Information 24
1.1 Quality Assurance Plan 24
1.2 Intellectual Property 24
1.3 Archiving 25
1.4 Writing for the Web 25
2 Metadata 29
2.1 Metadata Guidelines 29
is media Ltd
2.2 Metadata Profile Specification 29
is media Ltd
1 Executive Summary
This document seeks to provide a web authoring strategy for England’s Past for Everyone (EPE).
Specifically it will look at what is to be published on the web, what content is required in order to
generate this material, how material is captured and the Systems being developed to support this.
Volunteers throughout the country are working alongside authors and researchers to produce a
whole range of new resources - from a series of paperback books to interactive materials for
schools. Our website will provide an insight into the way history is investigated and help inspire
people to do their own research.
The publishing systems consultant employed in early stages of the project, Jon Williamson,
conducted interviews with staff in the various counties in order to gauge the anticipated needs of
users and staff who would be writing the materials themselves. This served to shape the general
functionality desired of the Content Management System and Digital Asset Store and was
included in the documentation prepared in advance of the tendering process to appoint the CMS
developers. More detailed user needs analysis and testing will be required as the appointed
system developers work on the implementation of the websites.
The document is structured in the following way:
Section 2 examines the published outcomes of EPE, focussing on those published via the web. It
looks at the Communications web site and the Education materials, but focuses on the Explore
site detailing its structure, and how different users will exploit the site.
Section 3 looks at the content requirements of the Explore site, exploring the types and numbers
of assets. Section 4 looks at how these assets will be captured, looking at work flow, editorial
responsibilities and training. Section 5 explores the System Architecture of both the Content
Management System (CMS) and the Digital Asset Store (DAS).
Section 6 looks at the milestones by which development of these sites can be monitored and
Section 7 looks at future developments for the site.
Appendices attached include:
• Metadata requirements and capture
• Quality Assurance
• Intellectual Property status for content
• Writing style guideline for the web
This document specifies:
1. workflows for capturing all necessary content at source
2. mechanisms for digitally capturing data that has already been collated
3. milestones that can be used to monitor the successful progress of the various web
4. estimated budget required
It will be reviewed on an annual basis.
is media Ltd
2 Web Published Outcomes
2.1 Aims of EPE
England’s Past for Everyone has three key aims. These are:
• To make local history accessible to everyone
• To engage local communities in the creation of local histories
• To raise the profile of the VCH as an expert leader in the field of local history, relevant to
To deliver these aims there are three key outcomes:
• Teams of volunteers generating local history resources
• Published outcomes delivering those resources to audiences
• A series of educational materials engaging schools in the creation of local history
These are all linked in the national England’s Past for Everyone project, using contributions from
15 projects in 10 counties.
2.2 Published outcomes
England’s Past for Everyone is a combined online and print initiative. There are three published
outcomes, and a supporting communications website designed to communicate EPE’s aims to its
potential user communities, recruit more volunteers and “market” its various published outcomes.
These published outcomes can be summarised thus:
• Explore website: This is an engaging website designed to stimulate interest in the
various projects EPE is involved in, and to generate interest in local history generally. It
will be the main output for the volunteers work, and will re-package a small amount of the
content presented in the paperback volumes.The Explore site will enable staff and
volunteers to publish their discoveries as they make them, allowing feedback from the
public and the creation of an online archive. It will also be used to collate research data
through flexible searching for thematic presentation and publication, eg in paperback
More detail of the Explore site is given below.
• Education materials: These are designed to engage teachers and pupils with local
history. Using a combination of the Explore website and teaching materials linking
resources across the curriculum, and in particular to the History Scheme of Work at Key
Stages 1-3, this area allows teachers to bring history alive by making it relevant to the
local area, and engage the enthusiasm of pupils through the use of rich multimedia and
• Paperback volumes: The paperback volumes are popular histories based on the outputs
of the fifteen local projects. Using a subset of the materials developed by the volunteers
and written in the main by VCH staff these will be engaging narratives with a bias towards
demonstrating how local history is done. The research for these forms the basis of the
content for the Explore site. The paperbacks also represent models for organising and
interpreting the data available via the Explore site.
is media Ltd
These outcomes are generated from combining materials generated by volunteers and VCH staff
in a Digital Asset Store, and using the Content Management system to funnel them to the most
appropriate channel, and interpret them for different audiences.
Data input Data manipulation Data publishing
County • Recordings
• Video Materials
themes • Text
2.3 Communications Site
The Communications site provides the route into the published outcomes of the EPE project at
www.EnglandsPastForEveryone.org.uk. It has several functions, to provide:
• access to the published outcomes
• community resources, including
a. News on the individual projects and activities
b. Recent discoveries (assets collected) by the projects
• guidance on using local history resources
• overview of project(s) and national news
2.4 The Explore site
We are developing a highly interactive website to allow the public to explore the images,
documents and audio visual material as we discover them. ‘Explore England’s Past’ is the
We are aiming to show the history inherent in a local environment by displaying places of interest
on an interactive map, and linking to relevant historical artefacts.
Content on the Explore site will go live throughout the lifetime of the project, as volunteers and
project staff populate the Digital Asset Store with content.
is media Ltd
2.4.1 Overview of functionality
Projects, key topics and resources will be showcased. Users will also be able to search the
contents of the database by place, category, theme and period, assisted by menus of key words,
timelines, etc. Metadata is vital to the entry, cataloguing, storage and recovery of data.
Each project identifies a series of items of interest in its locality. These items are ‘real world’
places or topics with local interest, for example a specific church or castle or a text about the role
of castles in a specific time period. Volunteers are engaged in identifying assets related to these
items, for example:
• Taking digital photographs
• Recording oral histories
• Identifying relevant documents in country record offices
• Writing commentaries on particular subjects
These assets are associated with items through a detailed metadata schema (see Appendix 2).
In addition, metadata associates assets to historical periods, to topics and to locations.
Assets relating to an item can be accessed via a map based interface, supported by a
geographical information system (GIS). Base maps for the education programmes are likely to be
Ordnance Survey maps, while a free service (Google Maps) is being used for the general user.
A typical user journey will operate thus:
1. The user will navigate to an area of interest (by county).
2. The user will see the items of interest in that location displayed on a map
3. The user may filter those items by a category; e.g. “military building”
4. The user will select an item of particular interest to them, and be presented with a list of
available assets related to that item
5. The user will select one or more assets for more detailed interrogation, and then repeat
2.4.2 Site structure
The Explore site is entered from a national or county page, as illustrated below. Please note that
this is a draft screenshot.
is media Ltd
Further consultation with the User Group and partners is required in order to produce an attractive
and accessible interface that encourages and enables users to undertake their own research.
This site will be a key element in delivering education resources, although it will be relevant to
lifelong learners. Additional functionality will allow end users to add their own contributions, for
example via a discussion forum.
2.4.3 Ways of retrieving data
VCH publication is based on places and people, which is reflected in the methods for organising
and retrieving data. There are several routes into the data for users:
• By location - as illustrated above. Items will be retrieved alongside lists of associated
assets, which will include historic maps.
• By category or type – users will be able to filter the items they view by category or
keyword – e.g. “military building”
• By period – similarly, users can view items filtered by period
• By Theme – County and national staff will identify searches of interest, and provide
commentary text. This will allow users a “filtered” view of the items, tailored to interesting
national or local topics.
• By person – users will be able to search the items, but also access databases of wills etc
where lists of people are included that may not appear in the asset descriptions.
• Free Search – Users can perform a free text search on the entire asset base, or just on
assets within a county.
is media Ltd
• Advanced Search – allows customised, combined searches over assets and items.
2.4.4 User scenarios
We envisage there being a range of users for EPE materials, including:
Local historians will access the site to find information that they may not already know about their
area of interest. They may also access it to understand what resources are available in their
locality for further research.
The level of IT skills of this ‘user’ will be variable, which makes the design of the interface
important. This ‘user’ may want to browse through a series of items in an area, or organise them
by category of particular interest, and then click through to the items that interest them.
Having found things of interest on the site, this ‘user’ is likely to incorporate it in their own work, or
share it with members of their local history society. They may also seek to become volunteers, or
set up a project in their own area.
Armchair Historian / Lifelong Learner
This person is interested in all things historical and is intrigued by stories of people and places.
They will find out about the site through local media / marketing events, and will access it to
discover more about the process of doing local history.
The ‘How to’ section of the website is really aimed at this ‘user group’. It will provide them with
ideas, skills and confidence to embark on some research of their own, whether it is researching
the place that they live, or starting to make sense of a document that they have found in a filing
The users who want to stay and explore the database of items and assets can do so in a number
of ways; by looking at localities, or filtering by theme or period.
The Fly By
This person will have seen a story in a press release or an article in a magazine or newspaper,
perhaps about a project being published online. They won’t have a high level of prior knowledge
about the subject and probably won’t be interested in systematically searching the site. More
likely, they will come to the website trying to find the item/object/story that they’ve heard of and if
they can’t quickly find that information, they will disappear off to something else ‘more interesting’
on the internet.
These ‘users’ are interested in maintaining the accuracy of the information being shown. They are
quick and eager to point out errors and will expect that when they do highlight an error the
information is rectified soon after. These ‘users’ might include VCH staff, local volunteers,
members of local history societies in the locality of a project. Searching the available resources
may also assist EPE staff with compiling their own narratives.
Students will use the Explore site in conjunction with education materials. They would expect an
easy to use, attractive and engaging website, which is as interactive as possible. Functionality is
likely to enable the contribution (uploading) of supervised personal historical materials to the
website using a range of media including audio and video.
Educators will be directed to the EPE Learning area of the site, where online materials and
guidance will be available. They may, however use the Explore site to find images and resources
is media Ltd
relevant to lessons being planned. In addition KS4 teachers may use this site to enhance the
GCSE/ A-level syllabus (EPE education materials are aimed at Key Stages 1-3).
These people are interested in family history – one of the major uses for the Internet. They will be
researching family trees, and be concerned with identifying places ancestors inhabited, and
understanding the records available to trace them. The Explore site may give them information
about families, individuals, occupations and places of origin. It may also guide them towards the
best use of available resources, and how to interpret them.
The Explore may be used by professional historians for accessing transcripts and images, as well
as providing a useful new approach to disseminating and analysing historical research. Some of
the items in the DAS may be of interest, and if so, these will be interrogated using the search
feature. Historians will use the VCH site, or the British History Online site.
Local data is used to inform planning applications and other local decisions and may be accessed
by planners, environmental consultancies, lawyers, estate agents, etc as well as historic
Organic Search Referrals
These people will have come via a search in Google or Yahoo or other search engine and will
have been searching for a particular set of keywords that have brought them to the site. We
cannot guarantee that these ‘users’ will stay on the website, because they may not be interested
in the historical angle of the website. It will therefore be important to capture their attention
straight away, so the home page of the website will need to interesting, entertaining and take
them to items of interest quickly. These ‘users’ are likely to follow links to the ‘Featured Item”, as it
will seem like a manageable way to get into the website.
These users are also not likely to arrive at the website via the home page, so it is important any
page of the website ‘makes sense’ out of context, in other words, users need to immediately work
out where they are and how to get to the home page. This will be achieved through consistent
linking, breadcrumbs and prominent links to the home page.
Users with Accessibility Requirements
The above users will include those with physical, language or cognitive disabilities, and those
who are visually impaired and hard of hearing or deaf. Other users may have slow internet
The Good Practice Guide for Developers of Cultural Heritage Web Services
(www.ukoln.ac.uk/interop-focus) will be followed to achieve maximum accessibility, eg navigation:
content should be reached within three levels of menu. There must be keyboard access for all
menus, controls and buttons. For hearing impaired people, the site should provide transcripts and
captions where appropriate, such as an accompaniment to an oral history as a sound file, or a
video file. For mobility-impaired users, every effort should be made to allow for navigation of
pages via voice cues or eye movements, such as tab indexing.
2.5 Education materials
The online education materials will derive from the practical schools programmes, which are
informed by consultation with partners and each county’s research, including volunteer activity.
They are in the early stages of development and will be designed with reference to the Good
Practice Guide for Developers of Cultural Heritage Web Services (www.ukoln.ac.uk/interop-focus)
Each project will result in:
is media Ltd
2.5.1 Case study
A short write up of the project on the ‘communications’ site, to include text, images and possible
audio files – likely to be written by Education and Skills Manager
2.5.2 Teacher resources
Fact finders or snapshots – interesting facts, small articles of text based on historical findings with
some visuals, e.g. timeline. PDF and/or text as appropriate.
Advice on how to recreate the project in another school, with resources required etc
Details of which national curriculum units for KS1-2 the project covers (local history area of study)
and how the project meets attainment targets for English, History and Geography.
The teacher resources are to be created by teachers/consultants and overseen by E&S Manager.
The use of ‘Course Genie’ software is being explored
These will focus on an area of interest, with explanation and activities that may take the form of
animation, worksheets, games, etc
The education section will be accessible from all areas of the site, with appropriate links between
the pages above.
2.5.4 Quality control
Content will be written by the team leaders, education consultants and teachers involved, under
the direction of the Education and Skills Manager. The Learning Advisory Panel and user groups
will be consulted. Overall responsibility for the education materials lies with the Editorial Board .
We are aiming to meet Priority 1 and 2 (AA) requirements of the WAI. In addition we aim to use
Watchfire's Bobby. We will engage in browser testing, including non-compliant (4.0) browsers
is media Ltd
3 Content Requirements
For the Web Published Outcome to be a rich resource it needs to be populated with digital assets
by volunteers and VCH and EPE staff. Assets will be of a variety of types and from a variety of
Content held in the DAS is made up of a series of digital assets associated with items of interest
within a project area. They can be buildings, people or artefacts such as a document. EPE
editorial staff identify items, and generate metadata for them (see Appendix 2)
3.2 Sources of Assets
Digital Assets will be sourced from a variety of places by staff and volunteers:
• In the field
• Documentary archives
• Image archives
Volunteers will have differing levels of access to IT equipment in these locations which will impact
upon their ability to capture content electronically at source.
The types of assets being collated vary according to project, but a rapid survey indicates that the
following selection will be collected.
Asset Estimated minimum number of
Digital photograph 1500
Scanned image 155
Scanned document 41
Digital Map 75
Audio recording 20
Video recording 6
1851-1901 Census data 3
Probate Records 3
Photos of documents 1000
Databases in Excel/Access 75
Word transcripts 750
Will transcripts 200
Tenement Survey 150
is media Ltd
3.3 Status of project
How these assets will be captured depends on the status of the project. Most (78%) are partially
completed. Those that are completed (only Wiltshire at the moment) will require retrospective
conversion of assets. There are several approaches to capturing assets and associated
• At source – by EPE volunteers/staff
• At source – time delayed – by EPE volunteers/staff
• Third party agency
o English Heritage
• Retrospectively –
o by Overseas re-keying agency
o by EPE staff/volunteers
These will be explored in more detail in section 4.2 below.
is media Ltd
4 Content Flows in CMS/ DAS
This section examines the way in which content is captured for use in the various EPE web sites.
4.1 Definition of components
EPE’s implementation is made up of several parts:
Internet/ External facing: These are the public web sites, and are made up of:
• Explore site
• Education Site
• Communications site
Administration: This area is where content creation, metadata capture and workflow is
managed. It has two different interfaces within the content management system:
1. a web based form-filling interface to collect metadata relating to:
o asset capture into the DAS
o the creation of items in the CMS, and
o content on the communication site,
2. an extranet approach for other administrative tasks such as accessing reports and policy
& guidance documents or sharing data with the HLF and external suppliers.
These public and private systems are delivered by two integrated platforms:
• The Digital Asset Store (DAS): This is a repository for the digital assets created by
volunteers and EPE staff. Detailed metadata allows access to and organisation of the
• The Content Management System (CMS): This system controls access to and usage of
the data held in the DAS. It allows identified users to access the DAS to upload assets
using forms to capture metadata, and controls workflow. It presents the assets to public
users through the various external facing websites.
These two systems will be discussed in more detail.
is media Ltd
Content Management System
4.2 Communications content generation
Content for the Communications site is made up of a variety of types. These include:
• News stories
• Local history resources
• Information on the individual projects
Counties will be responsible for their own content. This content is maintained by the Volunteer
Group Leader and/or the Team Leader. Content will be added through the administration
interface of the CMS, and held in the Web Content database. Content will be added in the
1. County Editor will log on to administration site
2. County Editor will select appropriate area of the site to update
3. Textual content will be added. Note that there are different approaches to writing for the
web to other media – some guidelines are presented in section 1.4.
4. Appropriate images will be selected to accompany the text.
5. In addition links to other parts of the site can be inserted
6. save content as draft or decide to publish
It is anticipated that counties will update news stories monthly as a minimum, and that the other
project content will be more static. The central Communications Officer will do the same for the
national site, as well as having permission to edit county sites.
If there is a demand in the future, the site may be expanded with a discussion forum or online
4.3 Asset generation/ metadata capture
As identified earlier, projects are in three stages of completion – un-started, part-completed and
finished. Different approaches to asset capture are required for each.
is media Ltd
4.3.1 Item generation
Items are the organising unit of the content in the DAS. Each item identified will have a series of
assets associated with it. For the purposes of the system items are metadata constructs held in
the CMS. This metadata will include information such as geographical location, name and date
for the item. Before assets can be associated with items these items must be captured by the
CMS. The proposed workflow for this is:
1. The individual organising unit is agreed between the county Project and EPE centrally.
2. Any additional metadata requirements for the individual project will be identified and
3. The Web Manager can add additional relevant metadata categories.
4. The Team Leader, Volunteer Group Leader or a nominated person(s) will enter each item
into the CMS administration with the relevant metadata.
4.3.2 Un-captured assets
This is the simplest category to capture. The workflow will be something like this:
1. Volunteer creates asset. This can be in one of a number of ways:
a. Photographs an item
b. Transcribes a document
c. Photographs a document in an archive
d. Interviews someone – and creates an electronic transcript or records the
conversation digitally, etc
2. Volunteer uploads asset into DAS.
a. Using the simple asset upload form the volunteer uploads the form either at the
point of capture or at a later date
b. The asset is associated with an item, which will provide a level of automatic
c. Various pieces of asset specific metadata are required. These are entered as
part of the Digital Asset Upload form. If the metadata is to be captured after the
asset is created, a paper form can be used to record the data in situ
d. A trained volunteer will have the option to edit and publish assets themselves.
This is to provide the satisfaction of immediately seeing work online and to avoid
a log jam of unchecked assets.
3. Quality control
a. The EPE support team and county staff will provide training to volunteers to
enable them to contribute to the DAS. They will check the accuracy of entries
before they are published until they are satisfied with quality. Thereafter they will
check a sample of published assets.
b. Once an asset has been checked it will either be amended or deleted
c. The effectiveness of these procedures and the quality of volunteer work will be
monitored. Should direct publishing by volunteer contributors be a problem, the
publishing option on the form can be hidden.
is media Ltd
4.3.3 Captured Assets
If a bank of digital assets already exists they can be handled in a variety of ways.
• Collection of digital assets
a. Assets uploaded into DAS
b. Assets associated with Items
c. Metadata applied retrospectively
• Assets held in Idealist or other database
o Assets output as Comma Delimited Text
o A conversion routine loads them into DAS
o Assets associated with Items
o Existing metadata checked
o Additional metadata added
• Collection of paper based assets
o A decision needs to be made about the value of the assets as this is the most
expensive approach to asset capture
o It is likely that an external agency will be the most efficient route to capture.
o Output from an external agency is likely to be imported directly into the DAS, with
some gaps in the metadata
o Internal staff will check and complete the metadata before publishing it.
4.4 Editorial control
The national and county web pages have a standard appearance. Only the web manager will be
able to change the navigation and layout, with the approval of the Editorial board. The content
management system has been designed to be as simple and intuitive to use as possible, since
inputting will be done by non-specialist staff and volunteers.
Web text for the national pages will be written by the support team, while content for individual
projects will be the responsibility of the counties, with support from the centre where necessary.
Counties should notify the support team of any significant changes to their web pages.
There are several levels of access to the CMS. These also define editorial control of the Explore
site. These roles and tasks are identified as follows:
4.4.1 National Editor (NE)
This level of permission will be granted to the support team. This role allows the administration of
all content on the EPE web sites, including National, County, Extranet and Explore sites. Tasks
• Create, edit and archive content on all sites on the CMS
• Create, edit and delete Items for any Explore site on the CMS.
• Upload, edit and delete Assets on the DAS
is media Ltd
4.4.2 County Editor (CE)
The County Editor is likely to be the Team Leader, although in some cases this may additionally
include the Volunteer Group Leader or Researcher. Their role will be administration of all content
for a specific EPE county, as well certain permissions to share content on the Extranet. Tasks
• Create, edit and archive content for a specific EPE county on the CMS
• Create and edit (but not delete) content on the Extranet on the CMS
• Create, edit and delete Items for a specific EPE County Explore site on the CMS.
• Upload, edit and delete Assets on the DAS for a specific EPE county
4.4.3 Asset Contributor (AC)
Again at a county level, Asset Contributors are the volunteers engaged in primary research on the
project. Their role will be to upload and edit (but not delete) assets and link them to Items in the
DAS for an individual county.
4.4.4 Extranet Viewer (EV)
This group is made up of users with an interest in the project, for example the HLF monitor. They
will be able to review content on extranet site, but not edit or delete content.
4.4.5 External Supplier (ES)
Designers, publishers and other suppliers to EPE will make up this group. They will be able to
access a designated folder and share and review documents, images, etc.
4.4.6 Super User
In addition to the specific editorial roles there is a need for over-reaching technical administration
– the “Super User”. This will be the EPE Web Manager. The Super User’s web site role will be
the same as National Editor and will also have the ability to alter code, design, etc and access
archive to replace pages through Open Harmonise Client interface and other web software. This
role is responsible for overall design and control of all EPE websites, in consultation with the
Editorial Board, and its tasks will be:
• Administration of design and content for all sites
• Liaise with support contractor for the up keep of the CMS and DAS
• Administration of user login accounts and their roles
• Add, edit and delete Items for any Explore site on the CMS.
• Add, edit and delete Assets on the DAS
4.4.7 General Viewer
The final category of user – the target audience. They will be able browse the content and
resources on the EPE web sites (excluding the Extranet). They will also be able to add
comments, using online forms.
4.4.8 Editorial permissions for the VCH and EPE web sites.
These users will have differing levels of access to the web sites tied into the workflows identified
earlier. These levels of access are summarised in this table:
Site/Sub Site Add Edit Delete View
EPE and VCH National CMS Content NE NE NE ALL
EPE and VCH County CMS Content NE, CE NE, CE NE, CE ALL
is media Ltd
Items NE, CE NE, CE NE, CE ALL
Assets NE, CE, AC NE, CE, AC NE, CE ALL
Extranet NE, CE NE, CE NE NE, CE, EV
Extranet – Specific Supplier Folder NE, CE, ES NE, CE, ES NE, CE, ES NE, CE, ES
4.5 Content flow chart
This diagram shows the steps involved in asset upload to the DAS. Note that EPE Operations
will not be engaged in for every asset – there will be random sampling of assets to check
metadata accuracy. In addition, central metadata completion should only occur when assets are
being captured by a third party agency or institution.
Public Access Asset
Training will be provided to counties in how to upload assets and generate metadata. In addition,
there will be training for relevant EPE staff in how to utilise the CMS. This training will be
delivered in two ways:
• By Simulacra limited. Simulacra will train the Web Manager in using the CMS
• By EPE staff. The Simulacra training will be cascaded down by EPE staff to staff and
volunteers on the ground in the counties.
is media Ltd
5 System Architecture
5.1 Architectural components
The following diagram shows the various components of the EPE website that will be delivered by
this project. Each component is explained in turn below.
4. EPE 5. EPE admin
3. Explore Site communications interface and
1. OpenHarmonise publishing engine
2. OAD application
Website content Digital Asset Store
5.1.1 Digital Asset Store
The digital assets are associated with each of the items in the county projects. These may be in a
variety of formats, e.g. documents, images, audio clips, video clips. The Digital Asset Store stores
the metadata associated with each asset within a database and the asset files (e.g. JPEGs, PDFs
etc) within a filesystem. The architecture of the Digital Asset Store means that it is platform and
database neutral. For the EPE installation the Digital Asset Store will be running on a Linux
platform using a MySQL database. The Digital Asset Store provides a SOAP interface to allow
OpenHarmonise to have access to its functionality. (SOAP is a protocol for exchanging XML-
based messages over a computer network, normally using HTTP.)
5.1.2 OpenHarmonise publishing engine and repository
OpenHarmonise is the route into both the CMS and into the DAS.
The OpenHarmonise repository stores each component of the EPE websites as resources with
associated metadata. For the Communications site and the Admin Interface this means the
content that comprises the web pages (text, navigation, headers, footers, images, CSS).
is media Ltd
The Explore site draws Assets from the OAD application. The relationship between Items and
Assets is maintained through an ID number unique to each Asset. OpenHarmonise must know
which Asset IDs are associated with each Item.
OpenHarmonise OAD Digital Asset Store
The OpenHarmonise publishing engine holds HaRP templates which define which resources and
what specific data are to be published and the result is an XML output which will be transformed,
using XSLT, into various formats. The publishing engine will draw resources and metadata from
the OpenHarmonise repository directly, and digital assets and metadata from the OAD application
via a web services SOAP interface.
5.1.3 User management
Information about users and their associated roles and permissions are also held in the
OpenHarmonise repository. When a user logs in to the Admin Interface they are assigned a
Session ID. This ID is shared between OpenHarmonise and the OAD application via a REST
5.1.4 Explore site
The Explore site is published by the OpenHarmonise publishing engine, drawing content from the
OpenHarmonise repository and digital assets from the OAD application.
5.1.5 The Communications Site
The Communications Site is published by the OpenHarmonise publishing engine, drawing
content from the OpenHarmonise repository.
5.1.6 EPE admin interface and extranet
A browser-based interface to the OpenHarmonise CMS and the OAD Asset Store, the interface
provides the functionality for managing content and users and for accessing the extranet. The
uploading of assets is done via a form interface to the OAD application, which can be navigated
to via the Item creation screen on the OpenHarmonise CMS. A built-in WYSIWYG editor (FCK
Editor) provides simple formatting tools similar to Word (bold, italic, heading levels, bullet list,
numbered list). This will be used to manage content on both the Published Outcomes site and the
EPE Communications site.
is media Ltd
5.2 Software components
The architecture described in the previous section will run on two servers, procured by EPE
directly from OAD under a separate contract. This section describes the software that will run on
each of the two servers.
EPE website and
OpenHarmonise OAD application
Apache + mod_jk Apache
Jakarta Tomcat PHP
Java Virtual Machine MySQL
SOAP and REST interfaces
A SOAP interface will be provided by OAD to provide access to the Digital Asset Store from
OpenHarmonise. SOAP is a well defined, open, XML-based protocol for transmitting data
between distributed systems. OAD's SOAP service will provide the required functionality for
OpenHarmonise to query and retrieve assets and associated metadata from the Digital Asset
Store. The specifics of the SOAP interface are set out in the WSDL document provided by OAD.
User session data will be generated by OpenHarmonise and passed through to the OAD server
through a REST interface provided by Simulacra.
is media Ltd
There are a series of milestones associated with development of the Explore Site. These can be
split into several categories. Key milestones are included on the support and county Gantt Charts.
6.1 Development of system
A key set of criteria are associated with the delivery of the technical infrastructure and web
materials. These can be split into:
• Delivery of Web Based Asset Upload form – end September 2006
• Web evaluation strategy end September 2006
• Acceptance of Web interface – end October 2006
• Training of users in its deployment – October 2006 ongoing for length of project. (Training
has already been rolled out for Communications pages)
• Regular User Group meetings by November 2006
• Web evaluation reports – from February 2007
• Design of education site July 2007, with first materials online by October 2007
• Web Development = Review of web authoring strategy – August 07 and August 08.
County targets are around the upload of assets. These will include:
• Training of all relevant staff and volunteers in use of the DAS – from October 2006
• Identification of project items, and capture of metadata – from October 2006
• Performance of an audit of assets amenable to digital capture, and development of a
capture plan in conjunction with EPE central staff by October 2006 and ongoing
depending on progress of individual projects
• Input of items across the counties from October 2006
• Upload of “significant” numbers of the assets identified – depending on project schedule
• Creation of a number of “stories” creating interesting filters of local content for users –
depending on project schedule
• Local web launch – as appropriate
EPE nationally will be managing this process of content development. It will develop:
• development of item metadata forms across the counties from September 2006 ongoing
• A plan for asset capture across the counties – by October 2006
• Management of the development of the user stories – ongoing according to individual
• Managing a national campaign for the launch of the individual web sites, according to
individual project schedules and marketing strategy
• Web archiving strategy February 2006
is media Ltd
7 Future Development of site
This document is a development document – and as such is “live” – we will continue to refine our
requirements and expectations through the lifetime of this project. In particular, there will be an
annual review of EPE’s objectives, and of the websites’ success.
7.1 Response to feedback
EPE will institute a User Group. This group will meet regularly and provide feedback as to the
development of the project as a whole, and the Explore site in particular. We will develop this
document in line with its findings. More information will be available in the forthcoming Evaluation
7.2 Mapping data
One of the current areas that could be improved is the quality of the mapping used. The Explore
site is based on freely available Google Maps data at the moment.
We aim to enhance this by using Ordinance Survey data:
• Epoch 1 Data
• 1:25000 mapping
• Higher resolution mapping
We are currently exploring licensing arrangements. Possible solutions include:
• Exploitation of a licence recently agreed by Becta for the Education sector
• Use of an OS licence agreed with the Cultural Sector (similar to the above licence – but
more details need to be found)
• Use of licences already held by EPE’s parent institution, The Institute of Historical
• Direct negotiation with OS
7.3 Cost of Development
There is currently a budget set aside for future web developments. This will be reviewed with the
budget in May 2007 and the development strategy in August 2007.
Item £ exc VAT
Developing online education resources: 25,000
Web development – GIS/design consultant 8700
Future Server hosting support 17,154
Completion of CMS & DAS 27,400
is media Ltd
1 Supplementary Information
1.1 Quality Assurance Plan
All published outcomes must adhere to the high standards of local history expected from the
VCH. Quality of the web published outcome will be assured by several mechanisms:
• Training and guidance will be provided for all contributors using the CMS, whether to
update the communications site or to upload items and assets. Easy to follow guidelines
on the use of the system will be drafted and available as help files to reference by project
• Agreed metadata for categories will be selected from a drop down menu wherever
possible, to avoid inputting errors.
• Local County control – no asset will be published to the live site until approved by the
Volunteer manager or the Team Leader at the County level
• The County Team Leaders are responsible for the completeness and quality of the asset
metadata. This will be maintained in a variety of ways
o Checking assets by trainee contributor before they are published
o Spot checking assets as they are published
o Identifying and populating all missing metadata
• Feedback from the User Group. A User Group(s) will be instituted to provide feedback in
order to contribute to the strategic direction of the Explore site. Provision will be made for
• Additional oversight will be held by the EPE central office, in particular the web manager
and web and publications assistant, who will regularly assess all published web pages.
They will undertake regular checks, eg for accessibility, broken links and ensure
comments are dealt with promptly.
• The Editorial Board will have overall editorial control and responsibility for the quality of
the Explore Site.
1.2 Intellectual Property
There are several sets of IPR being generated by the project. These have differing profiles which
are outlined in the following table:
IP Creator Owner Licence External usage
Digital Asset Store OAD OAD Non-exclusive, N/A
CMS Simulacra Simulacra Open Source N/A
Tailored elements Simulacra EPE Owned N/A
is media Ltd
Volunteer Volunteers EPE Assignment of Personal usage
VCH staff VCH staff EPE Assignment of Standard
English Heritage EH staff EH Perpetual licence Need EH
to exploit across permission
all media and all
Third party (e.g. Third Party Dependent on Individually Individual
image archives) archive negotiated licensing
Manuals Simulacra/EPE EPE Owned N/A
We are currently in discussions with AHDS about using their service to store our content, subject
to the resolution of several IPR issues. This will result in an archiving strategy due February 2007.
All content is currently designed to be platform neutral – thus it is unnecessary to archive the
platforms that we are utilising. IPR issues would make this difficult in many cases.
Use of a controlled vocabulary ensures greater consistency of metadata and that the system
adheres to existing metadata standards used by other Web Services.
1.4 Writing for the Web
The following are some guidelines for writing successfully for the web.
Write with the reader in mind and with the appropriate tone of voice. Ensure that your message is
clear and concise. Plain English is faster to write; faster to read; and you get your message
across more often, more easily and in a friendlier way.
Text for the communication site should convey information in as few words as possible, ie 50-200
words, avoiding having to scroll down a web page as much as possible. The style can be
informal, using ‘we’ and ‘you’. You can start a sentence with and, but, because, so or however.
Try to avoid using phrases such as 'click here', ‘read about’ or ‘view item’. It’s a waste of space
and frustrating for those using a screen reader, as they will only hear the words used for the link.
For example, it’s much better to say:
Read about the Bristol launch.
As opposed to: click here to read about the Bristol launch.
Don’t insert links mid-sentence or within a paragraph. It’s less of an interruption and more
accessible to put links at bottom of text or in a column, alongside text.
is media Ltd
Keep your sentences short
Most experts would agree that clear writing should have an average sentence length of 15 to 20
words. Be punchy. Vary your writing by mixing short sentences (like the last one) with longer ones
(like this one), following the basic principle of sticking to one main idea in a sentence, plus
perhaps one other related point. You should soon be able to keep to the average sentence length
- used by top journalists and authors - quite easily.
However, at first you may still find yourself writing the odd long sentence, especially when trying
to explain a complicated point. But most long sentences can be broken up in some way.
Prefer active verbs
Which sounds better?
Peter watched the television.
The television was watched by Peter.
You can see that by making the sentence passive, we have had to introduce the words 'was' and
'by', and the sentence becomes more clumsy.
This matter will be considered by us shortly. (Passive)
We will consider this matter shortly. (Active)
The mine had to be closed by the authority. (Passive)
The authority had to close the mine. (Active)
There are times of course when you should use a passive.
• To make something less hostile - 'this bill has not been paid' (passive) is softer than 'you
have not paid this bill' (active).
• To avoid taking the blame - 'a mistake was made' (passive) rather than 'we made a
• When you don't know who or what the doer is - 'the England team has been picked'.
• If it simply sounds better.
But aim to make about 80 to 90% of your verbs active.
Use 'you' and 'we'
Try to call the reader 'you', even if the reader is only one of many people you are talking about
generally. If this feels wrong at first, remember that you wouldn't use words like 'the applicant' and
'the supplier' if you were speaking to somebody sitting across a desk from you.
Applicants must send us...
You must send us...
We always tell customers before we...
We will tell you before we...
Similarly, always call your organisation 'we'. And there is nothing wrong with using 'we' and 'I' on
the same page.
is media Ltd
Use words appropriate for the reader
When you are talking to your reader, say exactly what you mean, using the simplest words that fit.
This does not necessarily mean only using simple words - just words that the reader will
understand. Imagine talking to your reader across a table.
People tend to ignore excessive use of ‘the best’, ‘wonderful’, etc
Don't be afraid to give instructions
These are all commands - officially called imperatives. They are the fastest and most direct way
of giving someone instructions.
Please send it to me. (Rather than: I should be grateful if you would send it to me.)
The packet should be removed from the box. The contents should then be placed in the oven.
Remove the packet from the box. Then place the contents in the oven.
The problem is that often they are used instead of the verbs they come from. Because they are
merely the names of things, they sound as if nothing is actually happening in the sentence. Like
passive verbs, too many of them make writing very dull and heavy-going. E.g.:
We had a discussion about the matter.
We discussed the matter.
There will be a stoppage of trains by drivers. Drivers will stop the trains.
Use positive language
Always try to emphasise the positive side of things. For example:
If you don't send your payment, we won't be able to renew your membership. (Negative)
Please send your payment so that we can renew your membership. (Positive)
Use lists where appropriate
Lists are excellent for splitting information up. With a list that is part of a continuous sentence, put
semicolons (;) after each point and start each with a lower-case letter.
If you can prove that:
• you were somewhere else at the time;
• you were not related to Mary; and
• you are over 21;
you should be all right.
is media Ltd
As you can see, the next to last point has 'and' after the semicolon. If you only had to prove one
of the three points instead of all of them, this word would be 'or'.
Always make sure each point follows logically and grammatically from the introduction. For
example, if you took out 'you' from the second and third points it would still flow as a normal
sentence but not as a list. The third point would then read, 'If you can prove that are over 21',
which obviously does not make sense.
• Stop and think before you start writing. Make a note of the points you want to make in a
• Prefer short words. Long words will not impress your readers or help your writing style.
• Use everyday English whenever possible. Avoid jargon and legalistic words, and
explain any technical terms you have to use.
• Keep your sentence length down to an average of 15 to 20 words. Try to stick to one
main idea in a sentence.
• Use active verbs as much as possible. Say 'we will do it' rather than 'it will be done by
• Be concise.
• Imagine you are talking to your reader. Write sincerely, personally, in a style that is
suitable and with the right tone of voice.
• Re-read what you’ve written. Or get someone else to. Can you improve on it?
With thanks to the Plain English Campaign, www.plainenglish.co.uk
is media Ltd
2.1 Metadata Guidelines
Metadata is required to enable the efficient discovery and re-use of assets. There are two levels
• Item metadata captured initially by each project
• Asset metadata, which when combined with the metadata of the associated item provides
a full metadata record for each asset.
Asset metadata is capture in two ways:
• Through the web based form interface
• Using a paper based form in situ (where there is no access to a computer, or the
volunteer is unable to access a computer). The data is then transferred to the DAS.
The following pages are the Metadata Profile documentation produced by the EPE Support team.
2.2 Metadata Profile Specification
Please click on the title to see this document.
England's Past for Everyone -
Metadata Profile Specification
11 October 2006