By Daniel Berthereau Integrates the IIIF specifications, a simple IIP Image Server and the Universal Viewer in order to create carousels of virtual books from image files and to display any media file (pdf, audio, video, 3D…) in a unified player.
Download 2.6.0-beta.2

Universal Viewer (plugin for Omeka)

Universal Viewer is a plugin for Omeka that adds the IIIF specifications in order to serve images like a simple image server, similar to a basic IIP Image, and the UniversalViewer, a unified online player for any file. It can display books, images, maps, audio, movies, pdf, 3D, and anything else as long as the appropriate extension is installed. Rotation, zoom, inside search, etc. may be managed too. Dynamic lists of records may be used, for example for browse pages.

The full specifications of the International Image Interoperability Framework standard are supported (level 2), so any widget that supports it can use it.

The Universal Viewer supports the IXIF media extension too, so manifests can be served for any type of file. For non-images files, it is recommended to use a specific viewer or the Universal Viewer, a widget that can display books, images, maps, audio, movies, pdf, 3D, and anything else as long as the appropriate extension is installed.

The Universal Viewer was firstly developed by Digirati for the Wellcome Library of the British Library and the National Library of Wales, then open sourced (unlike the viewer of Gallica, the public digital library built by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, which is sold to its partners).

This plugin is upgradable to Omeka S via the plugin Upgrade to Omeka S, that installs the module Universal Viewer for Omeka S.

See a demo on the Bibliothèque patrimoniale of Mines ParisTech, or you can set the url "https://patrimoine.mines-paristech.fr/iiif/collection/7/manifest" in the official example server, because this is fully interoperable.


PHP should be installed with the extension exif in order to get the size of images. This is the case for all major distributions and providers. At least one of the php extensions [GD] or [Imagick] are recommended. They are installed by default in most servers. If not, the image server will use the command line ImageMagick tool convert.

Uncompress files and rename plugin folder "UniversalViewer".

Then install it like any other Omeka plugin.

  • CORS (Cross-Origin Resource Sharing)

To be able to share manifests and contents with other IIIF servers, the server should allow CORS. The header is automatically set for manifests, but you may have to allow access for files via the config of the server.

On Apache 2.4, the module "headers" should be enabled:

a2enmod headers
systemctl restart apache2

Then, you have to add the following rules, adapted to your needs, to the file .htaccess at the root of Omeka Classic or in the main config of the server:

# CORS access for some files.
<FilesMatch "\.json$">
    <IfModule mod_headers.c>
        Header add Access-Control-Allow-Origin "*"
        Header add Access-Control-Allow-Headers "origin, x-requested-with, content-type"
        Header add Access-Control-Allow-Methods "GET, POST, OPTIONS"

It is recommended to use the main config of the server, for example with the directive <Directory>.


Some options can be set: - Options for the integration of the player can be changed in the config page. - Options for the UniversalViewer player can be changed in the json file "config.json": copy and update it in a folder named "universal-viewer" inside the folder of the theme. - To use an alternative config for some items, add an option config with its url in the array of arguments passed to the viewer (see below). - Options for the IIIF server can be changed in the helpers "IiifCollection.php", "IiifManifest.php" and "IiifInfo.php" of the plugin.

See below the notes for more info.

  • Javascript library "UniversalViewer"

Since version 2.2.1, the distribution release of the javascript library UniversalViewer is included in the folder views/shared/javascripts/uv/.

Before version 2.6.0 of the plugin, that embeds version 3.0 of the viewer, "nodejs" was necessary to prepare the viewer. Nevertheless, "nodejs" itself, other packages and any other files were not needed in production, because only the viewer is used: the IIIF server is provided directly by the plugin itself.

Until version 2.6.0, these commands were needed to install and update the plugin from git, from the root of the plugin:

    npm install
    # The next times:
    # npm update

Since version 2.6.0, composer is used, so there is nodejs is not needed any more, even in development:

    composer install
  • Processing of images

Images are transformed internally via the GD or the Imagick libraries. GD is generally a little quicker, but Imagick manages many more formats. An option allows to select the library to use according to your server and your documents. So at least one of the php libraries ("php-gd" and "php-imagick" on Debian) should be installed, or the command line tool ImageMagick convert.

  • Display of big images

If your images are big (more than 10 to 50 MB, according to your server and your public), it's highly recommended to tile them with a plugin such OpenLayers Zoom. Then, tiles will be automatically displayed by Universal Viewer.

  • Adaptation of the Universal Viewer config

To customize the configuration of the plugin, create a directory universal-viewer in your theme and copy the file plugins/UniversalViewer/views/public/universal-viewer/config.json inside it: themes/My_Theme/universal-viewer/config.json.

Details of the config options can be found on the wiki and tested online.

  • Using externally supplied IIIF manifest and images

If you are harvesting data (via OAI-PMH, for instance) from another system where images are hosted and exposed via IIIF, you can use a configurable metadata field to supply the manifest to the Universal Viewer. In this case, no images are hosted in the Omeka record, but one of the metadata fields has the URL of the manifest hosted on another server.

For example, you could set the alternative manifest element to "Dublin Core:Has Format" in the plugin configuration, and then put a URL like "https://example.com/iiif/HI-SK20161207-0009/manifest" in the specified element of a record. The viewer included on that record's display page will use that manifest URL to retrieve images and metadata for the viewer.

  • Customize data of manifests

The module creates manifests with all the metadata of each record. The filter uv_manifest can be used to modify the exposed data of a manifest for items, collections, collection lists (search results) and files (info.json). So, it is possible, for example, to modify the citation, to remove or to add some metadata or to change the thumbnail.

Note: with a collection list, the parameter record is an array of records.

IIIF Server

All routes for the player and the IIIF server are defined in the file routes.ini. They follow the recommandations of the IIIF specifications.

To view the json-ld manifests created for each resources of Omeka S, simply try these urls (replace :id by a true id):

  • https://example.org/iiif/collection/:id for item sets;
  • https://example.org/iiif/collection/:id,:id,:id,:id… for multiple resources;
  • https://example.org/iiif/:id/manifest for items;
  • https://example.org/iiif-img/:id/info.json for images files;
  • https://example.org/iiif-img/:id/:region/:size/:rotation/:quality.:format for images, for example: https://example.org/iiif-img/1/full/full/270/gray.png;
  • https://example.org/ixif-media/:id/info.json for other files;
  • https://example.org/ixif-media/:id.:format for the files.

By default, ids are the internal ids of Omeka, but it is recommended to use your own single and permanent identifiers that don’t depend on an internal pointer in a database. The term Dublin Core Identifier is designed for that and a record can have multiple single identifiers. There are many possibilities: named number like in a library or a museum, isbn for books, or random id like with ark, noid, doi, etc. They can be displayed in the public url with the modules Ark & Noid and/or Clean Url.

If item sets are organized hierarchically with the plugin Collection Tree, it will be used to build manifests for item sets.


The viewer is always available at http://www.example.com/collections/play/{collection id} and http://www.example.com/items/play/{item id}. Furthermore, it is automatically embedded in "collections/show/{id}" and "items/show/{id}" pages. This can be disabled in the config of the plugin. Finally, a layout is available to add the viewer for an item in an exhibit page.

To embed the Universal Viewer with more control, three mechanisms are provided. So, according to your needs, you may add this code in the items/show.php file of your theme or anywhere else.

  • Helper (recommended)
    // Display the viewer with the specified collection.
    echo $this->universalViewer($collection);

    // Display the viewer with the specified item and specified options.
    // The options for UV are directly passed to the partial, so they are
    // available in the theme and set for the viewer.
    echo $this->universalViewer($item, $options);
  • Shortcode

  • In a field that can be shortcoded: [uv].

  • In the theme:
    echo $this->shortcodes('[uv collection=1]');
  • Hook
    echo get_specific_plugin_hook_output('UniversalViewer', 'public_items_show', array(
        'record' => $item,
        'view' => $this,

Arguments may be "class", "style", "locale" and "config". All mechanisms share the same arguments and all of them are optional.

If collections are organized hierarchically with the plugin Collection Tree, it will be used to build manifests for collections.

The display of multiple records (items and/or collections) is supported:

    // Array of multiple records with the helper.
    echo $this->universalViewer($records);

    // Multiple records with the shortcode.
    echo $this->shortcodes('[uv collections=1,2 items=1,3]');


  • A batch edit is provided to sort images before other files (pdf, xml…) that are associated to an item (Items > check box items > edit button).
  • The plugin works fine for a standard usage, but the images server may be improved for requests made outside of the Universal Viewer when OpenLayersZoom is used. Without it, a configurable limit should be set (10 MB by default).
  • If an item has no file, the viewer is not able to display it, so a check is automatically done.
  • Media: Currently, no image should be available in the same item.
  • Audio/Video: the format should be supported by the browser of the user. In fact, only open, free and/or common codecs are really supported: "mp3" and "ogg" for audio and "webm" and "ogv" for video. They can be modified in the file "routes.ini".
  • The Universal Viewer cannot display empty collections, so an empty view may appear when multiple records are displayed.

3D models

The display of 3D models is fully supported by the widget and natively managed since the release 2.3. 3D models are managed via the threejs library.

  • Possible requirement

The plugin Archive Repertory must be installed when the json files that represent the 3D models use files that are identified by a basename and not a full url. This is generally the case, because the model contains an external image for texture. Like Omeka hashes filenames when it ingests files, the file can't be retrieved by the Universal Viewer.

This plugin is not required when there is no external images or when these images are referenced in the json files with a full url.

To share the json with other IIIF servers, the server may need to allow CORS (see above).

  • Example

  • Allow the extension json and the media type application/json in the global settings > Security.

  • Install the plugin Archive Repertory.
  • Download the next three files from the official examples:
    • http://files.universalviewer.io/manifests/foundobjects/thekiss/thumb.jpg
    • http://files.universalviewer.io/manifests/foundobjects/thekiss/thekiss.jpg
    • http://files.universalviewer.io/manifests/foundobjects/thekiss/thekiss.json
  • Add a new item with these three files, in this order, and the following metadata:
    • Title: The Kiss
    • Date: 2015-11-27
    • Description: Soap stone statuette of Rodin's The Kiss. Found at Snooper's Paradise in Brighton UK.
    • Rights: 3D model produced by Sophie Dixon
    • LIcense (or Rights): by-nc-nd
  • Go to the public page of the item and watch it!

Important: When using Archive Repertory and when two files have the same base name (here "thekiss.jpg" and "thekiss.json"), the image, that is referenced inside the json, must be uploaded before the json. Furthermore, the name of the thumbnail must be thumb.jpg and it is recommended to upload it first.

Finally, note that 3D models are often heavy, so the user has to wait some seconds that the browser loads all files and prepares them to be displayed.

TODO / Bugs

  • When a collection contains non image items, the left panel with the index is displayed only when the first item contains an image.


Use it at your own risk.

It’s always recommended to backup your files and your databases and to check your archives regularly so you can roll back if needed.


See online issues on the plugin issues page on GitHub.


This plugin is published under the CeCILL v2.1 licence, compatible with GNU/GPL and approved by FSF and OSI.

In consideration of access to the source code and the rights to copy, modify and redistribute granted by the license, users are provided only with a limited warranty and the software's author, the holder of the economic rights, and the successive licensors only have limited liability.

In this respect, the risks associated with loading, using, modifying and/or developing or reproducing the software by the user are brought to the user's attention, given its Free Software status, which may make it complicated to use, with the result that its use is reserved for developers and experienced professionals having in-depth computer knowledge. Users are therefore encouraged to load and test the suitability of the software as regards their requirements in conditions enabling the security of their systems and/or data to be ensured and, more generally, to use and operate it in the same conditions of security. This Agreement may be freely reproduced and published, provided it is not altered, and that no provisions are either added or removed herefrom.

The UniversalViewer is published under the MIT licence.

See documentation on the UniversalViewer and the IIIF on their respective site.


Widget UniversalViewer:

  • Copyright Wellcome Library, 2013
  • Copyright British Library, 2015-2017
  • Copyright National Library of Wales, 2015-2017
  • Copyright Edward Silverton 2013-2017

Plugin Universal Viewer for Omeka:

  • Copyright Daniel Berthereau, 2015-2019 (see Daniel-KM)

First version of this plugin has been built for Mines ParisTech.

Version Released Minimum Omeka version
2.6.0-beta.2June 01, 2020 [info]2.2.2
2.6.0-betaApril 12, 2020 [info]2.2.2 01, 2020 [info]2.2.2
2.5.9February 17, 2019 [info]2.2.2
2.4.7October 28, 2018 [info]2.2.2
2.4.6October 29, 2017 [info]2.2.2