Features and Plugins

We released Omeka with all of the basic features that we promised in the grant with additional functionality provided with a variety of plugins. First, Omeka may be easily downloaded and installed on a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) server, (available at some institutions or through a third-party host, such as Dreamhost for a small monthly fee). Each installation is equipped with an unqualified Dublin Core-based archive; 4 basic design theme templates that may be configured with different styles sheets to produce up to 9 different looks; an exhibit builder offering 12 basic page layouts and 4 different themes; tagging for items and exhibits; an RSS feed for new items; and COinS plug-in making all Omeka content readable by another CHNM-produced and IMLS-funded project, Zotero; and an easy way to write and publish simple web pages.

During the three year grant, Omeka’s functionality expanded greatly as we developed and released 31 plugins, and 5 were developed outside of CHNM. Plugins fall into broad categories including the following:

  • Batch importing and data sharing (Atom Output; COinS, Dropbox, CSV Import, OAI-PMH Harvester, OAI-PMH Repository, Fedora Connector, EAD Importer; Zotero Import);
  • Metadata input and support (Library of Congress Subject Heading autocomplete; Dublin Core Extended, Simple Vocab, Tag Bandit; Site Notes);
  • Copyright (Creative CommonsChooser);
  • Web 2.0 and online visitor interaction (Social Bookmarking, Contribution, Intense Debates Comment, MyOmeka; Google Translate; Simple Contact form, Terms of Service);
  • Representing data in different contexts (Exhibit Builder, Geolocation, Timeline; Simple Pages; QR codes and Reports);
  • Annotating and displaying item files (iPaper, Docs Viewer, MediaRSS, Image Annotation);
  • Security and site performance: (HTML Purifier, Page Caching).

Omeka’s plugin architecture has led other developers to build and contribute plugins now available for all users to download. A key partner in building the developer community that is at the core of Omeka’s strength has been the Scholar’s Lab at the University of Virginia Library, whose developers have contributed innovative plugins including a timeline builder, EAD importer, and Fedora Connector. This work has been done out of a desire to make Omeka a more attractive and viable option to larger libraries and cultural heritage institutions (who might, for instance, host a Fedora-based repository of content), and also in connection with their Neatline project, a set of Omeka plugins for the creation of interlinked timelines and maps as interpretive expressions of the literary or historical content of archival collections. This relationship will help the Omeka community stay strong and active as this grant period closes, and as CHNM and Scholars’ Lab begin work on a Library of Congress grant together for the coming two years.