Vesica Blog - Taking museum and art collections to the cloud

May 7, 2013

New API, Browser Support and More…

Filed under: Technology,Upcoming Features — admin @ 2:22 pm

2012 was the year that Vesica got a major infrastructure upgrade – 2013 is the year that the Vesica application will see major updates and upgrades.

The earliest of these will be the release of the new Vesica API in early May 2013. The new, RESTful API will be made available in different phases, first allowing primarily only GET requests, followed by PUT, POST and DELETE requests a few weeks later. Those using the existing, XML based API should look to switch over at the soonest as the existing API will eventually be faded out in December, 2013. The new API offers improved performance and flexibility and provides access to much more detail than the existing one. More information on this in the coming week along with a URL to the documentation.

We’re also rolling out a major architectural upgrade to the application on June 1, which will be followed by several new feature releases, including the log awaited bibliography / research tab, media sharing and more. The June 1 release will also see us fading support for IE 7 (and soon to follow, IE 8). IE 9 and IE 10 offer improved functionality, but the recommended browsers are IE 10 and any of the last 3 releases of Google Chrome or Firefox. Whilst you will be able to sign-in with older versions of Chrome and Firefox, please note that after June 1 you will no longer be able to sign-in to Vesica with IE 7 and on September 1, we will also retire any support for IE 8. This is because we would rather support development of newer features instead of compatibility with legacy browsers.

As always, if you have any questions, please comment here or get in touch with the support team at https://vesica.ws/support/.

————— Subsequent update —————-

The new API was rolled out in May as planned and documentation is now available on https://vesica.ws/developers/.

IE7 is no longer supported.

We’ll keep the blog up-to-date with further new releases (watch this space)!.

 

October 8, 2012

The Vesica Google Maps Timeline

Vesica’s Google Maps Timeline was set to be launched next Monday – October 15, 2012. We just setup some final tests today and have been very excited about the launch – it would basically give a museum dedicated HistoryPin type functionality (coupled with Vesica’s extensive search and filter tools) – but Google seems to have changed its licensing for Google Maps in the last few months that we have been developing.

Under the new licensing terms, we simply cannot offer Google Maps inside Vesica to our clients without a substantial investment on behalf of each museum that uses Vesica – but this substantial investment will drastically increase our standard pricing of £0.05 per object in a collection, which does not make it feasible. This is a rather major difference in Google’s pricing policy for the Google Maps API – which was free just a few months ago for a specific amount of usage.

We’re now working on integrating Vesica with either MapQuest or BingMaps to bring make the enhanced timeline a part of Vesica along with the two other major updates for this year (the report building tool and the Drupal API).

In the mean time, we will make publicly available a basic version of Vesica’s Google Maps timeline to give you a brief preview of what the functionality does next week. Customers who when prefer to use the Google Maps timeline can have that activated in their accounts for a fixed annual fee in addition to the standard £0.05 per object fee.

If, however, you wouldn’t like to spend extra and can wait a few weeks for a free interactive, map-driven timeline – subscribe to this blog to stay up-to-date.

In the meantime, if you are interested in deploying Google Maps in your organisation or museum with your collections management software fully integrated, please get in touch with us by commenting on this article, calling +44 2081338050 or emailing our sales team at [email protected]

September 15, 2012

Getting art collection reports the way you want them

One of the updates scheduled for the last quarter of 2012 in Vesica is a report building tool. Unlike other software where you can generate pre-defined reports, this reporting tool will allow you to print whatever you want on a report.

The report builder will benefit immensely from Vesica’s already powerful search and filter functionality. As it stands, you basically filter, search and drill down in your collection to view objects / pieces by a variety of different parameters – and you get to define and choose these parameters. In the current system, though, you are unable to choose what information about the searched and filtered objects you would like to print on a report. This information is pre-defined and, as such, may not be very useful to all departments in a museum.

But that’s what will change. You will be able to choose what information you want to include on a searched report of objects and pieces, just like you can choose what information you would like to print when creating a detailed object report.

So, illustrated with an example, your current search and filter interface might look like this:

Filter Options

Once you press Search, you’ll get the filtered results. On pressing the print icon on the top right, you’ll be presented with a pop-up allowing you to choose the information you would like to print about each object on the report, as shown below:

Report Printing Options

Choose and press print or export to word – that’s pretty much all you will need to do to create any report you require. This feature is currently in development and is scheduled for release in November. If you have any suggestions or anything particular you’d like to see implemented along with the report builder, please don’t hesitate to comment and share your thoughts.

August 10, 2012

Summer @ Vesica

It’s been a busy summer at Vesica – we’re hard at work making some major architectural changes to the application to sustain the ongoing growth – many of our customers (and we’ve surpassed 200 this month!) will start to see the benefits of these changes in the ongoing months in the form of increased speed and faster reponse times when uploading data, images, audio and video files along with rapid development of additional features and functionality.

We have an updated list of new features and functionality that will be posted to the coming soon page (https://vesica.ws/features/coming-soon/) next week, so if you’ve been waiting for bibliography and research features along with some advanced file sharing and management, stay put, because it’s all in the mix.

In the mean time, if you’ve been following the news in the museum industry of budget cuts across the board, now is as good a time as any to tell your local museum about Vesica. It well help them with hundreds of thousands of dollars in a few years. What more, using a cloud based solution like Vesica can mean that museums can protect the jobs that matter and spend money where it is necessary (i.e., on conservation) as opposed to maintaining IT.

See http://www.museumsassociation.org/campaigns/01072012-ma-2012-cuts-survey for more details – we’ll have more on these discussions in the coming weeks.

July 10, 2012

Secure Galleries and More Coming this Week

The update scheduled for later this week adds the of first of what will be many phases towards making Vesica galleries for individual accounts secure.

Users will be able to enable their galleries with a pass code. This means that anyone visiting your gallery will need to enter this pass code before they can gain access to the gallery. Future gallery updates will see this feature allowing you to add an additional level of security at the object / piece level. You can then choose to add individual pass codes for each piece in your account when and if you wish to include it in your gallery.

You will also be able to add the weight of an object in the system (where applicable). This option will be available in the Document tab under the Dimensions and Weight section (previously known as Dimensions).

Additional updates will follow soon, along with the release of Vesica in several other languages (see the post about Vesica being released in Spanish last month). To stay up to date with the latest developments and the innovative new functions we are developing to better manage and document museum collections, please see our features one on https://vesica.ws/features/coming-soon/.

June 7, 2012

Multi Lingual Collections Management for Museums

With a user-base that spans over 30 countries, we’re often asked if Vesica supports foreign languages.

The answer is yes.

Vesica uses the UTF-8 character set, so all foreign languages – including Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, etc. are supported. This means you can enter information in virtually any language.

The Vesica interface, however, is currently restricted to English. The application is being internationalized, with our Spanish version due for launch in the next few weeks. In due course, the Vesica interface will also be available in several languages.

If you are museum considering Vesica but the English interface stands in your way, get in touch with us and we can get you an ETA on a localised interface.

May 14, 2012

Pricing Museum Collections Software per Object

In the last few weeks, I’ve been asked on more than one occasion about what it is that lead us to pricing Vesica per piece / object in a museum’s collection. It’s true that this is a rather unorthodox  pricing model, not just in the museum / art collection sector, but for Software-as-a-Service solutions across all industries.

If you look at any SaaS or cloud based solution, the pricing is a combination of storage, a unit of some relevant measure (be it number of projects, number of domains, number of sites, etc.), and number of users. There’s a reason why many of these applications are priced this way – it’s generally due to the way public / private clouds are typically priced. For example, if you have a look at Amazon EC2 or S3 pricing, Microsoft Azure Pricing, or Heroku’s pricing model, it might begin to make some sense. These pricing modules are generally wrapped into some kind of algorithm based on the number of users and projects, etc. that the application might provide to a typical user to then come up with SaaS pricing, which the consumer pays.

To me, really, most of that is gibberish that is not always relevant to the user. Why, as the consumer of a B2B application, should I be bothered about things like storage in Gigabytes, or the number of users when it does not directly correspond with my business? A larger number of users does not always translate to increased revenue for businesses, certainly not in sectors like museums and heritage, where volunteerism reigns supreme.

So, for Vesica, we decided that our pricing has to be relevant. A museum’s collection is its heart and soul. If the collection is growing, it’s a good sign – the museum might generate revenue with the new addition to their collection over time. Perhaps the museum also has funds if it is acquiring. In any case, it’s a relevant measure for a museum, just like number of projects would be for a web development agency or number of companies would be for an accounting business.

When speaking with curators or museum directors, it is extremely difficult to strike a common cord if you start talking Gigabyes, Terabytes and number of users. It’s worse, if you sell desktop based museum software, and you have to work in the type of hardware you would need, along with setting up networks and what not.

We wanted to make Vesica simple and relevant – and I think we’ve done that.

Not only is the pricing relevant, it will save over 90% of the museums 30% or more when compared with any other solution in the market with similar functionality. The fact that we’ve grown to almost 150 customers in over 30 countries since the Vesica platform was launched just over a year ago is a testament to that.

Would you like to see Collections Management Software priced differently? Let’s hear your thoughts.

November 22, 2011

Preview: Interactive Timeline

Filed under: Education,Technology,Upcoming Features,Using Vesica — admin @ 1:28 pm

Further to the email some of our users would have received, we will this week start rolling out the Interactive Timeline to several accounts, with others to follow in the next week or so.

The Interactive Timeline Feature is another way to visualize and interact with your collection on a timeline and map. Whilst you will see a simplified but functional version of the timeline in your Vesica Dashboard, in the future there will be a more visitor interactive version of the timeline deployed on all Vesica galleries with a view to making the galleries a more engaging, interactive and educational tool for museums.

The Interactive Timeline in Vesica is inspired by the Helibrunn Timeline developed by the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Using the Timeline is easy – you simply select the appropriate period and the map reloads. Hovering over each region will show you the number and types of objects available from that period in the region. Clicking on any of the displayed results will bring up details of the objects.

We’ll be publishing more details on the planned enhancement of the Vesica Timeline in the near future – in the mean time, here is a screenshot of what many of you will start seeing in your Dashboard under the “Charts” link on the menu.

 Vesica Timeline

August 16, 2011

Preview of this Week’s Update

It’s Tuesday afternoon and we’re happy to announce that the release scheduled for later this week (Friday) will not only add some new features, but will grow the application functionality in terms of compatibility and add something in terms of easier navigation and user experience. The team has been hard at work implementing some of the feature requests from Q2 of 2011 and we’ve been planning a list of features and functionality to add to the platform for later this year. So, let’s get started wth what’s coming:

Streaming Video with HTML5

That’s right, you’ll now be able to upload video files in various formats and stream (or download) them from within your Vesica account. You’ll be able to associate these video files with pieces and collections. To start off with, we’ll initially be supporting a maximum file size upload of 1 GB in the following formats: AVI, MOV, WMV, OGG/OGV and MP4. Over time you’ll see more improvement to the video management platform, including the ability to control quality and embed video elsewhere (with or without the API). The best part about streaming video via HTML5 – we can support all modern desktop browsers and most mobile devices, including the iPad / iPhone and Android based phones and tablet PCs. In terms of browser support, you’ll need IE9, FF4+ or the latest version of Chrome / Safari / Opera to stream the files. You can always download and view the files on your desktop as needed.

Audio Streaming Compatibility

In July we added the ability to stream audio files (for your museum / exhibition guides, etc.). We’ve now made some changes to the audio platform, the result of which is that you can upload any of the formats we supported previously, and they’ll play in all of the modern browsers, irrespective of the format. Previously, you were unable to play OGG files in IE 9 and MP3 files in FireFox – this compatibility issue will be resolved with the update.

Interface Changes

Yes, we’re finally adding some dropdowns for easier access to the many settings / configuration pages, the support ticketing system and the FAQs. In addition to that, we’ll be deploying some icons for the buttons you see on the site (like save, edit, print etc.)  to free up more space for your content.

A Word on Data Standards

The technical team has also been evaluating various data standards that are in use by museums across the world. Whilst there are no formal dates, in addition to allowing you to export your Vesica data using the Vesica API, we are also planning on making feeds of your collections and related details available in some of the other formats, like the Categories for the Description of Works of Art (CDWA) Lite by The Getty (http://getty.edu). Watch this space for more details on the subject if you’re interested in ‘open’ data for museums.

May 20, 2011

Museums and virtual exhibitions – help is on the way

Ever since we started to work on Vesica, our team has always been interested in the workings of virtual exhibitions. I’ve also recently been keeping up with some very interesting articles. In particular, Michael Douma’s articles on the IDEA blog with regards to virtual exhibitions, their potential and how they are affecting the potential breed of online museums visitors have made an interesting read.

Whilst I am of the view that some things can only been seen and appreciated in person, that’s certainly not the case for everyone. I also believe that the correct implementation and application of virtual exhibitions holds great potential for museums, not just in terms of attracting new a genre of visitor or international visitors, but more so in terms of monetizing permanent collections, indefinitely.

As someone who thinks technology is meant to serve us (and not the other way around), I believe that with the right tools and integration, building and managing virtual exhibitions can and should be easy for museums. But that’s not the case, because managing a virtual exhibition can be quite demanding in terms of time, investment and manpower. Once it gets going it may not be too difficult to manage, but curating a virtual exhibition also takes some web expertise and can be quite laborious.

At Vesica, we have a vision. We want virtual exhibitions to be a piece of cake to build, cost effective (with little or no financial investment in addition to what it may take to curate an actual exhibition) and less time consuming. Better, we actually have a plan in place to see that vision come true and our team is in the initial phases to get our virtual exhibitions module (that’s what I’ll call it for now) off the ground and into cyberspace.

So how will this work? In a nutshell, we believe that virtual exhibitions can and should be an extension to a museum’s collection management software. This should be (and with Vesica it is) a repository of everything to do with your collection, including your audio guides, videos, images and other public domain information required for an online exhibit. We will allow the use of this information, perhaps via click and drag functionality, allowing museums to create a virtual exhibition with just a few clicks (and typing in some configuration parameters, of course). It’s going to be easy, should take just a few minutes to configure and will be hosted on a museum branded website. Museums will have the option to charge a fee for these exhibitions to all who want to see it. Furthermore, if museums use the virtual exhibitions function in Vesica, we’ll promote the exhibition to our userbase, depending on the relevance of a particular exhibition. And here is the best part – at this point we don’t anticipate any additional costs on top of the ongoing Vesica price to use the virtual exhibitions module – which is about £0.05 per object.

It really is going to be easy to use – just like the rest of Vesica. If you have suggestions about how you would like to see virtual exhibitions work, please do not hesitate to share.

May 1, 2011

iPad and Tablet PCs now supported

Filed under: News,Upcoming Features,Using Vesica — Tags: , , , , , — vesica-press-releases @ 6:20 pm

Vesica - now available for tablet PCs

With today’s update, Vesica now supports Apple iPad and other Google Android and Windows 7 powered tablet PCs.

This mobile compatibility is one of many upcoming add-ons and we believe it to be of great benefit to museums and collectors, who can now start archiving and documenting collections on the go. All major devices that work with the above operating systems and have the latest mobile browser related updates will support Vesica. No third party software or app installation is needed. Simply visit https://vesica.ws on your mobile device, sign in and start using Vesica.

We’re also offering financing on iPads and other tablets with Vesica. If you are a museum, you may also be eligible for free tablet PCs with Vesica. More information on this will be coming soon.

In the mean time,  please contact our sales department for more details.

April 13, 2011

The new Vesica – Coming Soon

Filed under: News,Upcoming Features — Tags: , , — Asif N @ 11:58 am

The New Vesica

We’ve been waiting for this as much as you have – it is with great pleasure that I am announcing the release date of the new version of Vesica – April 25, 2011.

The team has been hard at work for the last few months – we’ve been working day and night to put together something that I am truly proud of. This isn’t just a major upgrade, it’s a complete overhaul of the Vesica platform, and it is impressive (if I may say so myself).

Among other things, the new version boasts :

  • A completely new interface to search and edit pieces / objects and collections. This interface is fast and extensive, and feedback has been extremely positive during testing.
  • A comprehensive new section for object management – the software now allows you to extensively document, manage and market your art collection.
  • Speed – yes, it works almost as fast as a desktop application. There’s no page loading when you switch tabs, upload files or submit new information about a collection or piece.
  • Grace – this was important for me – we had to make sure that whatever we built was good to look at and graceful to interact with.
  • Advanced Search – now you just check some criteria boxes to filter your collection and all the relevant pieces show up. Type and further narrow the search criteria. It all happens lightning fast!
  • Charts – yes, now you can see beautifully animated charts that illustrate your collection by type, technique, region, dynasty or any of the other Vesica parameters.
  • Much, much more!

There’s a lot of good stuff in the new release in addition to the features mentioned above. We’ve looked at the art collection standard and gone the extra mile. We will also be publishing a regularly updated list of upcoming features with the new release.

Best of all, given the boost of new users we have had, we’ve been able to revise the pricing structure. A new price list will be published on April 25. I can, however, tell you that the free account now allows for up to 10 pieces, and each increment of 50 pieces from thereon is priced at £5. It’s nice and simple – and we like simple! In short, your existing account will only see a positive effect – piece allowance will go up and your monthly statement will automatically be adjusted to reflect the new price.

Watch this space for more updates over the next few days!

September 3, 2010

The Upgraded Vesica Dashboard

Filed under: News,Upcoming Features,Using Vesica — Tags: , , , — Asif N @ 12:52 pm
Upgraded Vesica Dashboard

The Upgraded Vesica Dashboard

Vesica now has a new account dashboard. The new dashboard gives you an overview of the latest news, your account details, a breakdown of the various objects / pieces in your art collection as well as a comprehensive search facility.In addition to the dashboard, a new search and filtering facility also available on piece / object listing to quickly sort and filter collections by any criteria.

The new dashboard, released last week, will become a powerfool tool for collectors, museums and galleries looking to manage and document their art collection portfolios.

More information on Vesica’s comprehensive documentation platform and it’s new eCommerce features, user galleries and the master Vesica gallery is coming soon as we get ready to move the software out of beta and share some of amazing pieces of antique art already documented in Vesica.

July 3, 2010

Sneak Peek at Vesica Galleries

Filed under: Upcoming Features — Tags: , , — Asif N @ 7:54 pm

The gallery feature for each individual Vesica user has been a long awaited feature. Ever since we went into general beta, we’ve received queries from artists and galleries alike about when this would go online, how hard it will be to use and what kind of marketing and transactional capability it will allow them to have.

I am glad to tell you that the Vesica Gallery feature is complete and is currently being tested. Since we’re not ready to go live with it yet, I figured it will be a good time to show you what the galleries look like and what you as a Vesica user can do with them. So, without further adue, here is a screenshot of the gallery homepage that each Vesica account holder, free or paid, can get.

Vesica Account Galleries

Vesica Account Galleries - Homepage Screenshot

The above screenshot should give you an idea of the scalability and functionality of all Vesica galleries. Each account comes with a dedicated URL which you can choose when you create a Vesica account. So, if you chose the word londonart, you can then have your gallery on http://londonart.vesica.ws. In additon, all pieces can be browsed by type and you can add a variety of other pages to your gallery – so you can do business on your terms. Each gallery also comes powered with a dedicated shopping bag.

You also get statistics for your gallery. You can see how many hits you get on a monthly basis in addition to seeing hits by piece – a useful statistic if you want to see how your copy is performing in terms of SEO, setting up which at the keyword and description level is also built into the gallery configurator.

There’s a whole lot more I could put down about the galleries – after all, I’ve built the architecture for them. But instead of writing a novel on it, I’ll simply leave you with a couple more screenshots and ask that you be just  a little more patient. When we launch the gallery feature, it will be worth it. Hundreds of small galleries and artists will be able to gain an online presence and sell their artwork online. You don’t want to miss this!

Vesica Gallery Statistics Screenshot

Gallery Statistics Screenshot

Art Gallery - Piece Detail Page

Vesica Gallery - Piece Details Screenshot

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