Archive for the ‘Plugins’ 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.

VRA Core Plugin Ready for your Visual Resources

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Today, we are releasing the first direct outcome of an initiative funded by the Getty Foundation to make Omeka more usable for visual culture and art history projects: a VRA Core Element Set plugin.

The plugin adds elements from the VRA Core metadata standard to an Omeka site, but it does not replace the existing Dublin Core metadata fields. It includes representations of all the XML elements and attributes from VRA Core. The plugin will help art historians, librarians, and students describe visual resources in more complete ways. Read more about how to install and configure the plugin in the end user Documentation.

Our work represents an effort to address the needs of art historians wanting to build research and teaching projects in Omeka. Over this year, we will design new themes and develop plugins that prioritize some of those needs.

This initiative emerged from feedback we received during RRCHNM’s two digital art history summer institutes, also funded by the Getty Foundation.

The plugin is currently an alpha version — ready for testing and feedback, but not quite yet ready for production. Please test out the plugin, and let us know how it is working for you on the forums, or watch development and add issues on the GitHub repository.

Let them make Posters!

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

We are pleased to announce the release of the Posters plugin, which allows guest users to add, edit, share, print, or delete their own collections of public content from your Omeka site. This is the much-anticipated update of the posters function of MyOmeka, a plugin from version 1.5.

screen shot of browse posters page

Posters requires the plugin GuestUser; together, these plugins allow individuals to sign up and create posters without editing the items on your site. Guest users can describe their poster and add a short caption to each item. Because users log in to create a poster, they can come back any time to reorder items, add or delete content, and change descriptions. Learn more about how it all works in the documentation.

Poster in carousel view with caption and description.

Posters is fun and easy to use. It’s a great way to allow students or visitors to remix the content of your Omeka site.

IMLS funds Omeka Everywhere

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, in partnership with Ideum and the University of Connecticut’s Digital Media Center, is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a National Leadership Grant for Museums from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences to create Omeka Everywhere. Dramatically increasing the possibilities for visitor access to collections, Omeka Everywhere will offer a simple, cost-effective solution for connecting onsite web content and in-gallery multi-sensory experiences, affordable to museums of all sizes and missions, by capitalizing on the strengths of two successful collections-based open-source software projects: Omeka and Open Exhibits.

Currently, museums are expected to engage with visitors, share content, and offer digitally-enabled experiences everywhere: in the museum, on the Web, and on social media networks. These ever-increasing expectations, from visitors to museum administrators, place a heavy burden on the individuals creating and maintaining these digital experiences. Content experts and museum technologists often become responsible for multiple systems that do not integrate with one another. Within the bounds of tight budget, it is increasingly difficult for institutions to meet visitors’ expectations and to establish a cohesive digital strategy. Omeka Everywhere will provide a solution to these difficulties by developing a set of software packages, including Collections Viewer templates, mobile and touch table applications, and the Heist application, that bring digital collections hosted in Omeka into new spaces, enabling new kinds of visitor interactions.

Omeka Everywhere will expand audiences for museum-focused publicly-funded open source software projects by demonstrating how institutions of all sizes and budgets can implement next-generation computer exhibit elements into current and new exhibition spaces. Streamlining the workflows for creating and sharing digital content with online and onsite visitors, the project will empower smaller museums to rethink what is possible to implement on a shoestring budget. By enabling multi-touch and 3D interactive technologies on the museum floor, museums will reinvigorate interest in their exhibitions by offering on-site visitors unique experiences that connect them with the heart of the institution—their collections.

New and Updated Plugins: Omeka Api Import, CSS Editor, and more!

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

New Plugins

The Omeka team is very happy to announce the release of two new plugins: Omeka API Import and CSS Editor.

Omeka Api Import allows you to import content from one Omeka site into another using Omeka’s API (the origin Omeka site must be at version 2.1 or higher to have the API). Items and files, collections, and more data can be duplicated from one site into another and updated periodically. This can be a handy solution for a simple migration to a new server, or for collecting several Omeka projects into one central Omeka site. Learn more in the documentation.

CSS Editor allows site builders who are familiar with Cascading Style Sheets to customize the display of their sites without needing to directly modify theme files. A simple configuration form lets you enter your new code to override what Omeka and the theme provide. Please read the documentation for details.

Updated Plugins

Thanks to the feedback from our users and contributors, we also have updates for three plugins with bugfixes and improvements.

Commenting now uses the same database indexing as other parts of Omeka, and allows reading gravatars over secure connections (thanks to Daniel Berthereau). It also includes better permissions handling for commenting (thanks to Daniel Lind).

Simple Pages has been updated to allow much longer pages, so you can write as much as you want (thanks to Rachel Donahue for the suggestion).

Geolocation includes a fix to make it interact better with Contribution, and there are display improvements in Simple Contact Form.

Many thanks to all of the users and developers in ever-growing Omeka community. Keep up the good work, and keep helping us improve Omeka!

New and updated plugins now available

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

The land of Omeka plugins has been very active lately, and we have several new and updated plugins for you: Exhibit Builder 3.0, Geolocation, Zotero Import, Redact Elements (new!), and Commenting.

Exhibit Builder 3.0

Omeka users know Exhibit Builder as the primary tool for creating narratives around the items in an Omeka installation. Exhibit Builder 3.0 has been in release candidate status for some time, and we’re now ready to release it officially.

Exhibit Builder 3.0 is redesigned to allow much more flexibility in the layouts you can create. Rather than choosing a layout for the entire page, Exhibit Builder 3.0 breaks the page into stacked blocks with different arrangements of images and text. This lets you recreate all of the old Exhibit Builder page layouts, but also adds flexibility to mix different arrangements on your exhibit pages.

Exhibit Builder Layouts

The new Exhibit Builder also makes it much easier for plugins to add their own layouts to the available options. the new release of Geolocation, for example, now lets you add a map to your exhibit pages. Developers will be able to easily enrich the possibilities for your exhibits, and we’d love to hear what you all build!

Read more about it in the Exhibit Builder 3.0 documentation, and developers can learn how to add layouts in the Exhibit Builder developer documentation.

The new version of Exhibit Builder is not yet packaged with Omeka core releases, so to give it a try you’ll need to download the new version and update it in your site.

Zotero Import

The much-requested Zotero Import plugin is now updated for Omeka 2.x. You can now pull items from your Zotero libraries into your Omeka 2.x installation.

Read more in the Zotero Import 2.0 documentation.




Redact Elements

This new plugin was born of a need to keep some content in Omeka items confidential. If you have a collection of emails, for example, you might want the full email, including email addresses, available to researchers, but not the general public. Similarly, you might want to hide URLs or IP addresses. Redact Elements lets you do so, and it lets you create new patterns for text that should be hidden. Read more about the options in the Redact Elements documentation.

Geolocation and Commenting

These two plugins have been updated with bugfixes, and Geolocation adds a layout for Exhibit Builder 3.0.

Several new and updated translations are also available for Exhibit Builder 3.0, Geolocation, and Commenting.


Two more updated plugins: OAI-PMH Harvester and OAI-PMH Repository

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

The Omeka team is happy to announce updates of the popular OAI-PMH Repository and OAI-PMH Harvester plugins for Omeka 2.0.

The Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting allows for metadata about objects to be shared across repositories and applications. The harvester allows you to import items into your Omeka installation using the protocol. The repository, in turn, makes metadata about your items available for other sites to collect.

The updated version of the repository also adds the METS standard to the formats available for the output, which makes files, in addition to metadata, available to harvesters.

More of Omeka in more languages!

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

The Omeka core has been localizable for some time, and the hard-working and dedicated volunteers at Transifex have made it possible for you to use Omeka in a number of languages.

Now, as we are upgrading plugins and building new ones for Omeka 2.0, we’ll start to roll out localizations for the plugins as well. Every six weeks, we will update plugins that have new translations available. This schedule will help keep your localizations as up-to-date as possible, while giving the people doing translations a regular timeline for when their work will be put into action in your sites.



The first round of translation updates contains new or updated translations for the following plugins:

We have also started the process of creating translations of the Commenting and Geolocation plugins, and more will be added soon. Watch the resources page to see what plugins are available for translation. So far, forty-two language teams have been created that you can join to contribute your translating skills, or you can always create a new team for your own language.

More new things for the Omeka family of products!

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

We’re happy to announce a maintenance release of Omeka, bringing us to version 2.0.3! This maintenance release fixes some bugs to the HTML editor, error reporting, display, and more. Please read the release notes for details.

There are also improvements to all of the bundled themes (Thanks, Roy; Seasons; Berlin). This release also includes the new “Night” stylesheet in the bundled Seasons theme.

We also have one new plugin, Derivative Images, and two updated ones, Commenting and Geolocation.

Derivative Images is an evolved version of the Image Files plugin for Omeka 2.x. Image Files for Omeka 1.x let you resize your thumbnail and other derivatives. With Omeka 2.0 now producing derivatives of many more file types (sound, document, etc.), this completely reworked plugin allows you to selectively produce new derivatives for any file type. This is especially useful for sites that have upgraded to Omeka 2.x from Omeka 1.x and want to take advantage of the new derivative images.

Geolocation includes a small but important improvement. Matti Lassila added an option for searching with a radius in kilometres instead of miles.

Commenting has been upgraded with new features and security, such as the ability to allow site visitors to flag comments as inappropriate.

Speaking of commenting, for our friends using as their hosted Omeka solution, Commenting is now included in Silver plans and above. (Note that, and the Commenting plugin, have not yet been upgraded to Omeka 2.0, though we are working on that, too.)


New plugins, a theme update, and exciting things ahead!

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

The Omeka team is happy to announce new and updated plugins and themes.

Geolocation is now updated to be compatible with the Omeka 2.x series. Geolocation allows you to pin a location for your items onto a map, and display a map showing all the geolocated items.




We are also happy to release a brand new plugin for Omeka, Search By Metadata. It allows site builders to build navigation between items by turning any field into an automatic search for other items with the same data. If you want to guide your visitors from one item with the subject “Digital Humanities” to a list of other items with that subject, this plugin lets you do that quickly and easy through the admin interface.


Finally, we are releasing an update to the Seasons theme. In the spirit of breaking expectations, there is now a fifth season — “night”. The night stylesheet is a dark style, suitable for displays of artwork.



More is on the way, and in the next two weeks we’ll spend less time talking about what we have produced and more about what our community has been up to. There are great new plugins and themes coming Omeka designers and developers out in the world. So, for a special Day of DH post we’ll draw attention to them and their work, and show our appreciation.