Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Protecting Contributor Anonymity

Monday, November 21st, 2016

For many years now, users have turned to Omeka when they feel it is important and necessary to collect materials related to the significant events in the recent past or an ongoing situation that will likely be of historical import. We have always strongly supported these efforts, in part because the original impetus for creating Omeka developed out of our own work at the Roy Rosenzweig Center to collect and preserve the images, stories, and other born digital material related to landmark events in early 21st century.

For us, this work started with the September 11 Digital Archive and the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank. When the September 11 Digital Archive launched, Omeka wasn’t even a glimmer in our eyes, but by 2005 when the hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast, we were well on our way to engineering a platform that would allow users to quickly set up a site for collecting from the public.

The first evidence that people beyond the Rosenzweig Center would look to use Omeka this way came with the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech in April 2007. The April 16 Archive was our first hint that Omeka was going to become part of the infrastructure for archivists, librarians, and public historians who wished to respond to historical events.

At RRCHNM, we have a predisposition to openness. We strive to support open access to historical materials. We build open source software, and we are pleased to see the community make use of that software. Being part of the infrastructure comes with responsibilities for stability and support. Perhaps most important, it comes with a responsibility to respect and protect contributors.

Contribution OptionsFrom its first iteration, the Contribution plugin for Omeka provided administrators with a set of consent options for their participants. They could authorize that their materials be made public with their names, they could be made public but anonymous, or the materials could be contributed and not made public, but be available to authorized persons (using the researcher user permission level). Additionally, administrators could customize the kind of information that they collected from their contributors. For the most part, these options satisfied the use cases we encountered, since anonymity or dark archiving was an option.

However, the Omeka team, and the cultural heritage community as a whole, has become significantly more concerned about issues of privacy and surveillance. In recent years, libraries, archives, and individual public historians have created collecting sites that use Omeka to gather sensitive materials and gather them from individual who are likely to be vulnerable to surveillance.

  • In the wake of Michael Brown’s shooting in Missouri, Washington University in St. Louis created Documenting Ferguson to collect materials related to the shooting and its aftermath.
  • Then, in April 2015, public historians and archivists came together to create Preserve the Baltimore Uprising to document the events surrounding Freddy Gray’s death and the protests that followed.
  • In the summer of 2015, archivists and community members in Cleveland came together to create A People’s Archive of Police Violence in Cleveland.

Each of these projects work with populations that may be at risk for having their contributions used against them, and there are likely many more similar situations that we do not know about.

Even though the Contribution plugins could be configured to collect very little personal information, they required contributors to provide an email address. Our users have advised us, rightly, that even that level of personal identification could place their contributors at risk. (HT to Documenting the Now, and their thoughtful conversations on these issues.)

Anonymous Contribution SettingsAs a result, we have reworked the Contribution suite to allow for fully anonymous contributions. Site administrators who are concerned about protecting their contributors from retaliation and surveillance should upgrade to the most recent version of the plugin (see the Documentation for Contribution v3.1.0). Also, we urge site administrators to carefully craft the terms of service for their sites so that contributors have a very clear understanding of who will have access to their contributions and their personal data.

Finally, for collected materials that might include personal information that should not be made public, site administrators should consider installing and configuring the Redact Elements plugin. This add-on allows administrators to use regular expressions to redact text (e.g. phone numbers, social security numbers, email addresses) from Omeka metadata elements. While it’s unlikely that projects would collect this information on purpose, contributors might include it in a document or a story. Of course, if an administrator is unsure about the information contained in a contribution, that item can always remain in the repository but not be made public.

We hope that, in combination with clear policies and open communication with contributing communities, these plugins will help site administrators to create and maintain collecting projects that steward their materials and their contributor data responsibly.

Guest Post: Connecting Students and Special Collections

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

Stefanie Hunker headshot
Stefanie Hunker is the Digital Resources Librarian in the Browne Popular Culture Library (BPCL). She holds a Master’s in Library Science from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a Bachelor’s of Music in Music History from The Ohio State University and has been employed at BGSU since 1995. Her responsibilities include the maintenance and development of the BPCL web site and its various social media outlets, cataloging of items in various material formats, organization and processing of special collections and their respective finding aids, as well as collection development and instruction with the Dept. of Theatre and Film and instruction with the Departments of Popular Culture and American Culture Studies.

Omeka has been a valuable asset here at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) in the University Libraries (UL). We first began using Omeka to document our university’s centennial year in 2010 and we have expanded our use of it to display our digitized cultural heritage materials, to house our database of manuscript finding aids, and to showcase our work, more specifically the students’ work, with the digital humanities on campus.

Omeka works well with these digital humanities projects. Its Collections and Exhibits options makes it ideal for students to learn how to do metadata description as well as how to create a narrative around the artifacts that they’ve had digitized and uploaded into Omeka by librarians. The workflow we use for these projects has developed over time.

Before Omeka is introduced to students, they are given the opportunity to explore our library’s collections during one class period, during which they choose at least one artifact to be digitized and uploaded into Omeka. This artifact becomes the item they use at the next library session (called Omeka Day), where they are introduced to Omeka.

Before this session, the students have been entered into Omeka as student users, a role our web developer created to limit their activities in the system. On Omeka Day, once they are logged in, the students are taken through the dashboard options, the differences between Collections and Exhibits, then we look at the items they had digitized.

Librarians do not add metadata beyond a basic title, so the students are taught how to look at the digitized item and assign metadata describing that item. Each class, as a whole, has one collection and one exhibit. Once students know how to assign metadata, they are shown the Exhibit Builder. A significant amount of time is typically spent on learning how to build exhibits, since they will be available in our library’s Student Digital Gallery. Three exhibits are currently public, but additional exhibits are in development.

We plan to keep using Omeka as a digital gallery platform for various projects. The fact that it’s open source and has an active user-base, makes it easy to customize for our needs. We are currently in the planning stages for Fall 2016 projects!

Guest Post: “Can’t We Just Write a Paper?” Digital Galleries and Archival Research for Undergraduates

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

Thomas Edge head and shoulders
Thomas Edge joined the Department of Ethnic Studies at Bowling Green State University as an instructor in 2011. Prior to that, he taught at Northwestern University, Trinity College (Connecticut), and Elms College. Dr. Edge is a proud graduate of the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where he completed his doctorate in 2008. His published works include an examination of the racial politics and the 2008 presidential election, and a history of the NAACP in Charleston, West Virginia.

Two years ago, inspired by the work of my colleague Jolie Shaffer with her graduate students, I decided to engage my undergraduate students in archival research projects using the Omeka system. These projects, involving students taking Introduction to Ethnic Studies and Introduction to African American Studies, combined traditional library research with the creation of online digital galleries to highlight their work and analysis.

For purposes of these projects, students were divided into groups of five to six members apiece, and assigned a research topic for the semester. During our first semester of work, I gave one broad topic to the entire class. Subsequently, I found it was helpful to the students to maintain one overall theme, then assign each group a specific subtopic. For example, students this year in Introduction to African American Studies focused on the contributions and perceptions of Black women. Within that topic, different groups were required to look at their political organizing before and after 1950, economics and employment, music and literature, film and television, and the Black family. This helped minimize overlap in the artifacts they chose and exposed them to a wider variety of library materials.

Indeed, these Omeka projects helped address one of the chief concerns I have with my undergraduate students today: their lack of knowledge of library resources. For too many students, the library is solely used as a computer lab or as a place to find reserve materials. Through these projects, we collaborated with the Browne Popular Culture Library, the Music Library & Sound Recordings Archives, Government Documents, and the Center for Archival Collections. Each group needed to identify six artifacts that reflected their topics; the Library staff digitized those artifacts for the students, who then used Omeka to create their own sites around the assigned theme.

Students were encouraged to engage a wide variety of materials in their research, including scrapbooks, pamphlets, songs, sheet music, postcards, Census reports, television shows, advertisements, and comic books. They were not just required to find something that was connected to their theme, however. Groups also had to offer analysis of material culture. Here, I found it important to take some time and work with them on media literacy. With our students so inundated by social media, we sometimes assume a degree of media literacy that is often lacking. They are aware of how to find and consume media, but not always of how to analyze it. Working with students around themes of race and ethnicity, then, we set aside class time to discuss how to “read race” in different types of artifacts. It was important to emphasize that students could look for both positive and negative depictions of a particular group. While they were often able to look at a racist image and intelligently discuss what made it racist, at times they needed to be pushed further in analyzing positive imagery, including images that groups created themselves to challenge dominant discourses about perceptions of their identities.

When students first learned about the project at the beginning of the semester, many were intimidated by the idea of creating their own digital gallery. The Omeka system helped alleviate some of these fears. With help from our talented Library staff, the students received excellent training in how to use the program and regular support throughout the semester. In the end, the two biggest challenges had nothing to do with the technology. First, students needed to learn how to conduct real archival research, in which the topic is fairly open-ended and there is not one “right” artifact to find. Second, deadlines were a key. We now have a set schedule in which they are introduced to some of the materials they can use for the project; given basic training in using the Omeka system; assigned a hard deadline for requesting artifacts to be digitized; and returning to the library for a refresher course on Omeka. This leaves the students more than enough time to collaborate on their galleries, while also giving the library faculty and staff a chance to digitize the requested materials.

I have been quite pleased so far with the results from my undergraduates. As with any assignment, of course, there is a wide range of outcomes. The best work showed a desire to delve deeper with their analysis, from a comparative approach to Black women’s music that linked artists across different generations, to examinations of photography in the Black Panther Party newspaper that included a breakdown of gender roles and the use of color. My proudest moments, however, came from those students who were able to use these skills again in other classes, including classes they took with me. For every student who asked, “Can’t we just write a paper,” I have had many more who thanked me for challenging them and for giving them a real say in the content of their own work.

Introductory-level classes can do far more than cover the basics of the field; they can also imbue our students with technological and research skills that carry over into all of their future studies.

Guest Post: Omeka in Graduate Work

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

Jolie A. Sheffer is Director of the Institute for the Study of Culture and Society and Associate Professor of English and American Culture Studies at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. She teaches courses in American literature and popular culture since the Civil War, multiethnic American literature, American Studies, and literary theory and cultural studies.

Jolie Sheffer headshot

Like most of us involved in graduate education, I’m concerned about my students being able to find meaningful, challenging employment in a time where academic jobs are increasingly scarce. But even more broadly, I care about all of my students’ ability to communicate the skills and knowledge gained in the course of humanistic study to the wider world. I am tired of having a degree in English or History or [insert other humanities major here] serve as the butt of jokes about “useless” college degrees – especially since liberal arts disciplines teach the writing, critical thinking, and analytic skills that are essential to virtually all professional work in the twenty-first century. Those qualitative skills can be applied to any industry, and adapted to any institution or organization. Consequently, I believe that one of the best ways to prepare our students for “the real world” is to provide them opportunities to utilize their skills and knowledge for projects that are broadly legible and publicly accessible. Using Omeka to create digital exhibits has been a transformative experience in my pedagogy, and for my students.

I have used Omeka digital exhibits both as a supplement and an alternative to the conventional research paper in several graduate courses. Students in my classes—who are working toward MA or PhD degrees in programs such as American Culture Studies, Art, English, German, Media and Communications, Popular Culture, and Theatre and Film—created digital exhibits on Racial Representations in the Early 20th Century and on American Youth Culture in the 1960s . For these semester-long final projects, they worked with BGSU librarians and archivists to digitize primary source documents from the library’s special collections, and then curate them into Digital Exhibits using an institutional Omeka installation hosted by our library. In order to create a distinct identity, each exhibit was given a custom theme designed by an undergraduate student intern at the library, in consultation with the graduate students creating the exhibit.

The intellectual labor of the project was manifold and manifest: students researched a historical period using primary documents and secondary sources; they analyzed visual media for its ideological and social meanings; and they wrote explanatory essays to provide historical and cultural context for interpreting dozens of documents. But the project also demanded they communicate their depth of knowledge in jargon-free language, as well as create an easily navigable architecture for complex topics. And they learned a new software platform, and gained experience with a workflow involving more than a dozen other people from units across the university. In short, they had to demonstrate a range of skills and knowledge, including the ability to collaborate effectively to create something larger than any one of them could have accomplished alone.

Unlike the typical research paper, which disappears into a drawer at the end of the semester, my students’ Omeka projects live on – providing them meaningful evidence of their research, writing, analytical, technical, and organizational skills. The URL becomes a document that they can share with friends, family, and potential employers. Just as important, it helps them see the intrinsic value of their educations, AND its utility to life both inside and outside the academy. Truly, I cannot imagine a more meaningful way for them to demonstrate their intellectual development over the course of a semester. And I’ll never uncritically assign a research paper again.

Omeka developers are all over the map (in more ways than one)

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

We recently put out an unscientific survey to get to know who our Omeka developers are and what we can do to help them. All the responses are greatly appreciated. We’re just starting to look through the information, but here’s some things that stand out immediately.

14 Countries, 4 Continents


This map only reflects the responses from the developer survey — we know from forum conversations, the dev list, and conferences that people in more countries are using and developing with Omeka. We are very gratified to know that Omeka is helping people in so many different places.

CTOs, Librarians, Archaeologists, and more

We asked about the job titles of people who are doing Omeka development work. Consultants, part- and full-time developers, and managers of different kinds are also in the mix. This is both gratifying and challenging. Gratifying, because such a diversity of people creating with Omeka is very much in the spirit and goals of RRCHNM and the Omeka team. Challenging, because there are many different audiences that we need to speak to, probably in different ways. Similarly, we asked how people came to develop with Omeka. Many of you are self-taught, while some are coming from professional training in some form or another.

Strongest message: Give us examples

We were not surprised to see a desire for more example code, but we were surprised to see how prominent that desire was. We’ll want to figure out what kinds of examples are most helpful — examples of using a specific function? combining functions toward a more general outcome? something else? The ‘recipes’ that we had for Omeka 1.5 were surprisingly popular, so that will be a starting point.

We’ll be posting more thoughts based on the survey results, and inviting willing developers to create some guest posts in this space about their work in the coming weeks and months.

We very much appreciate the responses, and all your work.

Patrick Murray-John
Omeka Director of Developer Outreach

Omeka Curator Dashboard

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

Today we are featuring a guest post from an important member of the Omeka community, Jess Waggoner. After the creation of  the Grateful Dead Archive Online at UC-Santa Cruz, managed by Robin Chandler, the team saw several opportunities for new plugins to help manage launching such a large and involved site. Here, Jess writes about lessons learned about that project and the needs of a large institutional library’s data coordination and workflow management, and plugins that reflect that work.


Jess Waggoner is a Digital Projects Librarian at the UC Santa Cruz University Library. She is the Project Manager for the library’s IMLS-funded Omeka Curator Dashboard project.


In 2008 the University Library at the University of California, Santa Cruz embarked on a major project to digitize materials from our recently acquired Grateful Dead Archive and make them publicly available online. We sought a tool that would both provide a flexible interface for accessing these archival materials and manage the integration of “crowd-sourced” digital objects into the collection. The library selected Omeka as the platform for our Grateful Dead Archive Online (or GDAO), and with funding support from the IMLS for this project, we had great success using Omeka as our platform to build a community supported archive.

As the GDAO project wrapped up, we began to contemplate more expansive use of Omeka for exhibiting our other digital collections and could we integrate Omeka with our digital curation workflows. However, we quickly ran into some workflow and curatorial management questions: how would we import objects into Omeka from our CONTENTdm digital asset management system or the upcoming UC-wide digital collections? how would we make bulk changes to metadata after the objects were imported to Omeka? how would we push objects from Omeka into our archival repository, Merritt? After our success with GDAO, the answer dawned on us, “Let’s build some Omeka plugins!”

In the euphoria that accompanies the awareness of seemingly endless possibilities, we concluded that our development work should focus on curatorial workflow tools, metadata and file management tools, and additional crowd-sourcing tools. Since any Omeka plugins we developed would be made available to the entire Omeka community, we also consulted with other Omeka users and community members to assist us in prioritizing our development goals. We were awarded an IMLS grant to assist us in the creation of these Omeka plugins, and the Omeka Curator Dashboard project was officially launched.

The Omeka Curator Dashboard (or “the OCD” as we endearingly refer to it) is a suite of fifteen plugins (though a bonus sixteenth will be coming soon!) designed to facilitate object import and export, manage metadata, and curate collections. Several of our plugins are already available on the official list of Omeka plugins. The others are still undergoing testing, but can be downloaded from the UCSC Library GitHub in the meanwhile. We are actively soliciting feedback on these plugins from the Omeka user community so we can continue to improve their features and interfaces. Please drop us a line and let us know what you think!

Following is a brief overview of the fifteen OCD plugins and a sneak preview of the upcoming sixteenth plugin.

Bulk Metadata Editor:

Allows Omeka administrators to perform metadata changes on multiple objects based on selected criteria.

Item Review:

Allows Omeka administrators to review objects added to the site by Omeka users of lower roles prior to their publication.

YouTube Import:

Import YouTube videos and their associated metadata. Videos are embedded into the Omeka item record. Metadata are crosswalked to the standard Dublin Core fields in Omeka.

Item History Log:

Displays a log of curatorial actions (uploads, metadata changes, etc.) in an item record and generates curatorial reports by collection, user, or action.

Flickr Import:

Import images and their associated metadata from flickr. Metadata are crosswalked to the standard Dublin Core fields in Omeka.

METS Export:

Export Omeka items as METS objects.

Merritt Link:

Push Omeka objects into the UC3 Merritt archival repository. Metadata in METS format and any files associated with the Omeka object are ingested into Merritt as a single object.

Multimedia Display:

Allows Omeka administrators to assign select viewers with custom display profiles based on the item type, collection, or file format. For example, items of the type “Synchronized Oral History” can be viewed exclusively using the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (or OHMS – one of the default viewers included in the plugin).

Getty Suggest:

Based on the Library of Congress Suggest plugin developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, the Getty Suggest plugin allows Omeka administrators to assign metadata elements to a designated Getty vocabulary (currently: TGN, AAT, and ULAN). Autosuggestions from the assigned vocabulary appear as the Omeka administrator enters metadata in the selected elements.


Import objects and their metadata from your CONTENTdm collection.

Simple Vocab Plus:

Based on the Simple Vocab plugin developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, Simple Vocab Plus allows Omeka administrators to assign metadata elements to a designated custom vocabulary. The custom vocabulary can be stored in Omeka or synced to a cloud-based plain text file. Autosuggestions from the assigned vocabulary appear as the Omeka administrator enters metadata in the selected elements.

Nuxeo Link:

This plugin was developed for use with the UC Library Digital Collections (UCLDC) based in Nuxeo, but could be forked to work with other Nuxeo-based collections. Nuxeo Link allows Omeka administrators to import digital objects and their associated metadata from the UCLDC. Metadata are crosswalked to the standard Dublin Core fields in Omeka or mapped to the UCLDC schema depending on configuration.

Contributor Contact:

Quickly and easily contact all of your contributors via email.

Admin Images:

Upload non-item images to your Omeka site and retrieve an image URL that can be used in banner images, carousels, etc.


Generates a dynamic XML sitemap for your Omeka site to assist in search engine optimization.

Vimeo Import:

Coming Soon! Import Vimeo videos and their associated metadata. Videos are embedded into the Omeka item record. Metadata are crosswalked to the standard Dublin Core fields in Omeka.

To learn more about the OCD project or follow our progress, please see our official Omeka Curator Dashboard project site. You can also watch this video of a presentation about the OCD given at the UCSC Omeka Symposium in May 2015.







Consider Omeka for Your Common Heritage Project

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Recently the National Endowment for the Humanities announced an unprecedented grant opportunity to fund family and local history. The Common Heritage grants call for widespread work to build community and capture history on the ground. The Omeka team shares these goals and is eager to support this work!

Consider using the Omeka system as your base of operations for collecting and describing the materials you plan to digitize. Widen your project’s reach by using the Contribution plugins to enable members of the public to upload and describe their born-digital materials. Finally, consider working with your community to narrate their history using the Exhibit Builder plugin.

Don’t forget that you don’t have to have your own server space to use Omeka in your Common Heritage project. You can sign up for an subscription and leave the hosting, updating, and maintenance to us!

Omeka 2.1 Release Candidate, updated Berlin theme, and a RESTful API

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

The Omeka team is very happy to announce important releases: an overhauled version of the popular Berlin theme, and a release candidate of Omeka 2.1

The updated Berlin theme features much cleaner HTML5 code and separation of content and presentation, and improved styling for the Exhibit Builder plugin. Sites using Berlin should upgrade to this latest version.

A release candidate of Omeka 2.1 is also ready for download.  As a release candidate — not a final release — you shouldn’t  upgrade your existing Omeka sites quite yet. Instead it is a preview for Omeka for developers and early adopters to try before we are ready for a final release. We especially want to invite feedback on its most important new feature,  a REST Application Programming Interface (API) for the Omeka installation.

Adding an API brings us better in line with a principle we at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media hold very important: the idea that data should not be locked into any one platform without a way to get it out. Some mechanisms for data exchange such as ATOM and other XML and JSON output formats have long been present in Omeka for retrieving data about items. The full API, however, exposes data about collections, files, item types — indeed, almost all the data that makes your Omeka installation tick. Plugins can also easily tap into the API, making sure that data they store can be available for outside applications.

But we also want other applications to be able to push data into Omeka, too. For most records, then, applications will be able to add, modify, or delete data in Omeka. Our hope is that this will facilitate a long-standing desire to make it easier for other systems to sync records with an Omeka site, or simply to migrate data from another CMS into an Omeka site.

Don’t worry, if you do not want to turn on the API, you don’t have to. Permissions to modify any data are only given to existing users of the site who have been given a key by an administrator. The same permissions by role apply to the API, so users with the “researcher” role will not be able to do anything through the API that they cannot do through the regular admin interface.

Instead, we want the release candidate out in the world so other developers can try out the API and give us feedback on it before it takes its final form. Afterall, the API is all about better interaction with other systems, and so we need to hear about how you all make use of it, to what extent it does what you need, and whether there are aspects that could be improved.

Or, if you want to try to latest Omeka in a new installation, possible remaining bugs and all, we definitely want to hear your feedback, too.

To begin exploring the API, start by reading the documentation for it. Our own inimitable Jim Safley has also produced example clients for Javascript, PHP (using Zend Framework 2), and Python that show some examples of how the API could be used. These should not be taken as the “official” clients to use. In fact, we hope that many people will create clients to demonstrate different approaches to using the API.

In addition to the bundled plugins Simple Pages and Exhibit Builder, developers might also want to download the release candidate versions of Geolocation and Commenting to see how plugins can be part of the API.

If you are a developer and have an interest in making data more open, we hope you will try the release candidates of Omeka and of these plugins and give us your feedback on the dev list.

A shoutout to the Omeka community

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Following all the exciting work and news coming from Day of DH, the Omeka team wants to keep that spirit going by giving a shout-out to all of the people using — and improving — Omeka by sharing the wonderful materials they have.

We’d like to thank all the people who have contributed to Omeka by submitting questions in our forums. These are great people building great new sites, and doing DH by building, tweaking, asking questions, and making new ways to publish their work and holdings.

In the last year or so, we’ve also seen a noticeable increase in the number of people who suggest ideas, insights, and sometimes even code. Sometime this comes via our forums, sometimes via the dev list, sometimes via GitHub. From whatever path it comes, it is always welcome and a wonderful part of doing Digital Humanities in a collaborative way.

We want to highlight a few examples of recent contributions from the Omeka community:

  • Erin Bell has a project that calls for optimizing how we expose Geolocation data, as part of the ongoing awesomeness of Curatescape (a recent winner of an NEH-ODH startup grant).
  • Lincoln Mullen had a great idea to make the workflow for his project easier: an “Add Item” link from the admin bar. He’s added his Add Item Link plugin to the list of plugins for you to enjoy, too.
  • Dave Widmer has also been giving us great patches to improve our code.
  • Daniel Lind noticed that dates in Omeka were stored in a format that doesn’t work well across locations, and so we made that change and it will be part of our next release.
  • Iwe Muiser has submitted several issues and fixes to how Omeka users can interact with the site.
  • Katherine Lynch has noticed places where we can improve our ADA compliance, and is submitting helpful patches.

Many individuals are submitting translations since our recent move to internationalization via Transifex, with some notable contributions by:

We appreciate all of the small things that you do, and sometimes those are the most important. All of these individual contributions help extend the reach of Omeka, and more broadly, DH, as wide as possible.

I also want to thank our long-time friends at Scholars’ Lab , creators of the great Neatline suite of plugins.

Last but not least, Anne Wootton and Bailey Smith have been hard at work producing plugins and a theme for the PopUp Archive, an archive for sound files of all kinds. This involves sharing PBCore metadata, audio files, and connecting to the Internet Archive. They’ll be describing their work and their plugins and theme in next week’s post.

I hope that gives just a small taste of the activities surrounding Omeka, and the range of people who are part of the community.

Omeka 2.0 Beta ready for testing

Friday, November 16th, 2012

The Omeka team is very happy to announce that a beta release of Omeka 2.0 is ready to download and explore!

Omeka 2.0 beta includes many new features for users and developers alike. For users building collections, we hope that the completely redesigned admin interface will make building collections, creating sites, and using Omeka generally to be much easier. For theme and plugin developers, the substantial changes to the core Omeka code should help make your code faster and easier to write, more consistent, and easier to read.

Who should try Omeka 2.0 beta?

As beta software, it is not ready to be used for public sites, and we anticipate that bugs and quirks will appear as you try it. It is shipping with only one theme, and only the Simple Pages plugin. It is ready, however, for the curious (and adventurous) to try the new features, start preparing to migrate your sites from 1.x to 2.0, and most importantly to provide feedback to us before a stable version is released.

In particular, if any of the following describe you, you might want to try Omeka 2.0 beta:

  • You are considering using Omeka for a new project, and want to decide if Omeka 2.0 is right for you;
  • You currently have a site using Omeka, and want to start planning for how workflow on the admin side might change in the move to Omeka 2.0;
  • You manage an Omeka site that you have customized with your own themes or plugins, and want to start assessing what will be required to upgrade them to work with Omeka 2.0;
  • You develop plugins or themes for Omeka, and want to see what’s new and what will be required to upgrade them or start fresh work for Omeka 2.0;
  • You have a test installation of Omeka (NOT a site in production!), and want test doing an upgrade to Omeka 2.0.

Remember, Omeka 2.0 beta is not entirely stable, and might still have bugs. Do not try to update any Omeka site to 2.0 if losing any data from it is not okay. If you have a testing site that you would like to try updating, follow these instructions.

Major changes and features of Omeka 2.0 beta

Site Building

A new navigation settings screen lets you customize the site navigation in one place, across all themes:

  • Pages can be added or removed, and their link text customized;
  • Page order in navigation can be changed via drag-and-drop;
  • The homepage can be selected from a drop-down list of available pages;
  • Plugins can make pages they manage available to the navigation settings screen.

Metadata and Files

Many new features for managing metadata and files are available:

  • Collections now have the full Dublin Core element settings;
  • An explanatory comment can be added to all Dublin Core elements;
  • Thumbnails are now produced for all file types;
  • Plugins and themes have much greater ability to customize how metadata is displayed.


Search functionality has been greatly improved and expanded:

  • Search includes boolean, keyword, and exact match options;
  • Search encompasses all record types (item, collection, etc), and can be constrained to particular types;
  • Plugins can make their content searchable.

Theme and Plugin Development

The tools available for theme and plugin developers have been greatly streamlined and simplified:

  • The number of functions to be familiar with has been reduced by approximately 40%;
  • Hooks are available to modify nearly all admin pages;
  • Using hooks and filters has become much more consistent;
  • Omeka’s core code is greatly simplified to make it easier to see and follow patterns;


Our documentation for developers has been radically updated and improved. Documentation for Omeka 2.x will no longer be available or maintained in our “codex” wiki. Instead, it has moved to Omeka’s pages in ReadTheDocs. The documentation source files are in ReST format and maintained in github. We hope this will let us be more responsive to problems and suggestions for improving our documentation.

Providing Feedback

For those testing Omeka 2.0 beta and wishing to provide feedback or submit bug reports, we have several channels available. To distinguish questions about the unstable Omeka 2.0 beta from those about the stable Omeka 1.5, we have a new distinct forum for feedback on Omeka 2.0 beta. This is probably most suitable for testers interested in exploring the new admin interface and exploring the visually apparent changes in Omeka 2.0 beta. For theme and plugin developers examining and working directly with the code, questions are always welcome on our dev list, and issue reports — not to mention pull requests — can be made on Omeka’s github pages.