Vesica Blog - Taking museum and art collections to the cloud

February 16, 2013

Using Vesica’s Interactive Timeline

Released in December 2012, the Vesica Timeline allows all Vesica users to see the pieces in their account on an interactive map. Getting your existing collections to appear on the map will require you to define the location of your object in the History / Provenance section in the About tab when editing a piece. Once you’ve defined the location, you can get the map co-ordinates of that location to map the object. The video below gives you a basic demonstration of how to do this:

Once you’ve added the co-ordinates, you can simply browse to your timeline by going to Charts > Timeline. In History / Provenance section, you can also add the date created, which will make sure the object only appears on the map on the selected date. The below video gives you a short glimpse of what the timeline looks like.

November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving from Vesica – Report Printing

On Thanksgiving day last week we released several improvements across the Vesica platform, along with an initial version of the report printer which allows you the ability to sort and filter your collections by any of the parameters stored in Vesica, then decide what you want to print about each one of them. Whilst a more comprehensive version down the road will allow you to build queries on your Vesica database (so, for instance, you might want to generate a view of your collection that shows you everything you have loaned out to museum X and that is insured by company Y with beneficiary Z and has a payout value of $250,000 – well, you’ll be able to build such a report, save it and re-run it at the click of  a button), the current report printing functionality allows you to build reports on top of the existing advanced search functionality.

The ability to dissect and print various parts of information about multiple pieces has been a long requested feature from many different clients – so I’m happy to say that we’re there. This year will also see us release 2 more major features – including the research / bibliography tab and the redeveloped interactive maps timeline on mapquest.

See the video demoing the new report printing functionality below or on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_hBWCgcwWM.

June 19, 2012

Vesica now available in Spanish

Good news –  Vesica is today available in Spanish (along with English). Following on from the previous post by Asif N about Vesica as a multi-lingual platform, the interface of the application is now available in Spanish. This is the first step in the journey to internationalization and rolling out Vesica as a multi-lingual application.

As a user, you can set your own preferred language at the account level. This means that whilst you can use Vesica in Spanish, other users who access the account can still choose to see the application in English.

Switching to Spanish is a simple, 3-step process.

1. Once your signed-in to your Vesica account, go to Settings (see screenshot below).

Settings

2. In settings click on the Edit User Section.

User Settings

3. On the left hand panel titled user settings, the last option allows you to choose your language. Make the appropriate choice and press submit – and you’re done.

Choose Language

The system will now keep track of your preferred language each time you sign-in to the same account.

Have more questions? Please comment or raise a support ticket from within your Vesica account.

February 20, 2012

What makes Vesica a unique Collections Management Database?

Amidst all the buzz and feedback about Vesica this year, one question has come up a couple of times. This question is primarily posed by those who’ve been through the features list but have not yet created a trial account to see how Vesica works. Others, who have used it, have been kind enough to answer this question for us. You guessed it – the question is the title of this post – “What makes Vesica a unique collections management database?”

Rather than give you a breakdown of how Vesica is different (or better – and you’ll find a comparison chart link at the bottom of the article to this effect), I’ll briefly discuss one simple thing that sets Vesica apart from the competition. Aside from the obvious benefits of a SaaS application – which I discussed in a previous article here – and unlike all other databases or collection management applications in the market, Vesica is unique because it was built with a unique approach. Unlike other applications, Vesica is not just an interface added on top of a database – it is engineered to deliver a user experience. We didn’t really want to create just another Collections Management Database – that’s boring (and a white and depressing dull gray colour) – we wanted to make managing collections a fun, beautiful and enjoyable experience. Of course, on the back-end, we deliver this with a robust database in a world-class data centre (solar powered, mind you), but our interface is built from scratch – a beautiful, synchronised medley of user interface gadgets that will make using collections management software a good experience.

Not only is our interface unique and bespoke, we’ve developed a system that allows us to push the boundaries in terms of innovation. Others rely on, in many cases, open source software and applications, which means that they are restricted with features and functionality allowed within the frameworks they work with, or they would lose the support of such frameworks or open source software.

As one of our clients puts it – “Vesica is really pretty, intuitive and easy to use – unlike other collections management databases.” This is true in fact as much as it is in spirit – Vesica is not just a collections management database – it is so much more and it is always evolving to help museums, collectors and heritage organisations better document and manage their collections.

For more information on what makes Vesica unique, see our feature comparison chart.

 

December 22, 2011

Export Object Data to Microsoft Word

Documenting your collection just became more flexible – with Vesica, you can now print different parts or all of the information about an object to a Word document. It’s a fully-formatted export, and once all the information is in Microsoft Word, you can edit to your heart’s content. From the ability to do further research work, print and file hard copies, collaborate on objects at meetings, or simply export information about a piece into Word to customize and print out labels for exhibitions – in terms of formatting, editing and presenting your data, this new feature lets you do what you need in a tool so many of us have become accustomed to using.

Printing an object to MS Word is easy – you will do exactly what you’ve been doing to print your object information – except now on the window that allows you to choose which sections to print, in addition to a “Print” button you will also see a “Print to Word” button. Just click on this and you’ll be prompted to download the details of your object as a Word document – simple!

Here is a sample link to an object’s data extracted from Vesica as a Microsoft Word document.

ยป Download Sample

November 25, 2011

Vesica charts get drill down functionality

Filed under: News,Using Vesica — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 3:29 pm

Vesica users today will be able to drill down from Vesica charts into detailed data about their collections. This functionality makes interacting with your collections easier, faster and more intuitive. Where as before you could just visualize your collection via the pie charts and would have to search independently to get the list of objects that made up the chart, you can now simply click on the appropriate slice of the pie in the chart, once to slide it out, and a second time to click through to get a list of objects that make up the statistic.

Let’s show you how it works. Below is a pie chart of all the artists who have work listed in the account we’re looking at. You’ll also note in the chart that we’ve clicked on Vincent Van Gogh once, so his piece of the pie has slid out.

Pie Charts - Drill Down Functionality

 If you clicked on the Van Gogh piece of the pie again, you’ll go to a page that will list all 61 objects in your account which have Van Gogh tagged as the artist.

Van Gogh in Vesica

The drill down functionality has been applied to all 7 charts in Vesica.

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

September 28, 2011

Annotate and Crop Images in Vesica

With the update this week, you can now annotate and crop images inside Vesica. This has been a popular feature request and after much consideration (and testing), we’re glad to announce that you can do this in the browser whilst using Vesica, so you don’t have to use your image editing software to crop or annotate images.

Cropping and annotating with Vesica is easy – next to each image in the “Images” tab when editing a piece, you’ll now see 5 buttons. The third button allows you to crop, the 4th to annotate, as shown below.

Crop and Annotate

When Cropping an image, Vesica automatically saves the cropped version as an additional image, in case you need to retain both the original and the cropped versions. Cropping is really quite simple and intuitive – you select the part of the image you want to crop and press the “Crop” button – Vesica does the rest.


Cropping with Vesica

Annotations in Vesica are stored as additional layers on top of the image, which means your original image remains unchanged. When you view the image in your account, annotations appear as you hover over the image (as shown below). Annotations are not shown in the online galleries within Vesica or on external sites if the image is displayed via an API.

Annotate
Annotating with Vesica

It’s really all quite simple and as always, the best way to get a hang of it is to start using it! Please feel free to post any feedback or questions, or contact support if you need assistance with the above features.

July 23, 2011

Stream your Audio Guides in Vesica

We’re very excited today about launching the audio management and streaming feature in Vesica. It’s an additional step towards making Vesica an all inclusive collection management application for museums and heritage organisations. In the next few weeks, video support will also be added.

After some planning, we decided to implement audio support in Vesica using HTML5. Whilst this has some limitations, in the long run, we believe it will be of great benefit to our customers. Using HTML5 to playback audio means that  you may face some compatibility issues with certain file types in certain browsers but it will allow you to stream audio on Apple iPad and other Google Android and Windows 7 powered PCs. For instance, Mozilla FireFox does not support streaming MP3s, but Chrome, Safari and IE9 do (even mobile versions of Chrome and Safari do). For more details on compatibility with streaming, please see this FAQ. Of course, you can always download your audio files to play them back on your Mac or PC.

Audio files in Vesica can be associated with a particular object or a collection. Just like all other tabs on your piece or collection management screens, you’ll also see an ‘Audio’ tab. Here’s what it will look like:

Audio in Vesica

Audio file formats currently supported are MP3, WAV, WMA and OGG.

Audio files will tie in with the Vesica ecosystem, allowing you to re-use the guides in online exhibitions as needed.

June 13, 2011

Detailed Report Printing with Vesica

Filed under: News,Using Vesica — Tags: , , — admin @ 1:20 pm

The weekend’s release has added some powerful object / piece level report printing functionality to Vesica. The report is generated in an HTML format, so you an easily print it to a PDF of paste it into a Word document and edit to your heart’s content. We’re also working on an export to word feature, which will allow you to export different parts of the piece management system directly into word.

Here’s how you can print a report. You need to log-in to your Vesica account and edit the piece you would like to print information about. The edit screen now has a Print button on the top right side of the screen as shown below:

print-button-vesica

When you click on the print button, you’ll get another pop-up window which will allow you to choose the parts of the piece / object you would like to print. It’ll look like the screenshot below:

Print Object Window

Just check the boxes for the appropriate sections you would like printed, and press the Print button to the lower right of this window. Almost immediately, this popup will close and a new browser tab will open the report in printable / exportable format. When you’re done with that report, simply close the tab and you’ll go back into your Vesica account.

As always, we’re here to help answer any questions you have, so please do ask, via the blog, or support centre.

June 5, 2011

In the game of browsers, Chrome Wins @ Vesica

Over the last few days we’ve released several updates to the platform, with the result that we’ve been testing vigorously across all the latest browsers. Whilst Vesica works in Firefox 3.5 and 4, Opera 10+, IE 8 and 9, Safari 5 and Chrome 11 along with most tablet PC browsers, Chrome reigns supreme (at least on Microsoft Windows).

I’m not going to go into details of performance, because the difference is really quite obvious without having to measure seconds and milliseconds. Here’s a brief run down of why Chrome really is superior browser:

  • Pages just load faster. Doesn’t matter whether they are heavy on JavaScript or HTML 5. In Chrome they load faster than in any other browser.
  • No JavaScript Lag. I really had high hopes for IE 9 and Firefox 4 here, and whilst they perform vastly better than their predecessors, they simply do not do as well as Chrome does. For instance, the Vesica piece editing interface uses multiple JavaScript / JQuery tabs and accordions with multiple dialogs – compared to Chrome, all the browsers  will have some lag. Even if it is not very noticeable in FF 4 and Safari unless you specifically compare with Chrome, it is there.
  • Smoother Animation. Again, this may have a thing or 2 to do with JavaScript loading better, but all JQuery and HTML5 animation is far better and smoother on screen with Chrome than it is with any other browser.

Whilst I had high hopes for IE9 and Firefox4, I was a little disappointed. Although IE9 really does have great standards compliance and some FF plugins are virtually unparalleled, Chrome just delivers a far more superior experience for an application like Vesica.

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.

October 22, 2010

Dedicated Support System Released

Filed under: News,Using Vesica — Tags: , , , , — vesica-press-releases @ 1:03 pm

As the Vesica user base grows, we’ve received support requests from users like yourself with questions about their accounts and how to use various aspects of the software via email and live support. Many of you also mentioned your hesitation in using the forum for support because there were details about your collection you did not want to share.

We’ve listened – Vesica now has a dedicated support system in place. Using the support system is easy – a link is availble from the Help and Support page on https://vesica.ws/support/. To access the support system, you must be signed in to your Vesica account. Once you’re there, you can create new support tickets or respond to existing ones you may have created before.

It’s easy to use – here’s what it looks like:

Vesica Support System

Vesica Support System

The Vesica Support System allows you to submit and track support requests specific to your account, 24 hours a day. In addition, whilst the Live Chat team is not available outside UK business hours, the Support System is monitored and support tickets are dealt with 24 hours a day.

It’s all part of our plan to improve Vesica and make customer service our number one priority.

October 5, 2010

The Artist Tab Gets a Makeover

When we made the switch from beta to live last month, one of the last things we had not had time to redo for wider user and browser support was the “Artist” tab under “Pieces.” In fact, several users approached us with concerns over the interface being too heavy for their browsers or PCs (or Macs). We, therefore, made this our number one priority and have released the new interface. It works faster, looks better, is easier to use and allows you to associate multiple artists with one piece or work of art.

The screen is split into two parts – one where you can see which artists are already associated with the piece and another where you can search and associate more artists to a piece or work of art. It’s as simple as typing and clicking – and you’re all done. No more scrolling through 10,000 artists to pick the right one!

Here’s a screenshot to give you an idea of how it now works:

New Artist tab

New Artist Tab in Vesica - Art Collection and Management Software

To see how this works for yourself, create a Vesica account or Sign in.

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.

August 30, 2010

Choosing Your Gallery Web Address / URL

With the launch of the new Vesica dashboard and some additional features going live (yes, I have yet to blog about those), we’ve had several new Vesica users asking the same question – “How do I choose the right gallery name? What will be the marketing or Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) related benefits?”

Whilst these aren’t questions we intended to field via support, we’ve been more than happy to answer these. Since several people have asked this, I figured it is time to put this into a blog post, as it really is quite important to your Vesica account and your online gallery.

I’ll break down the the importance of various aspects of choosing a subdomain on Vesica for your gallery. Let’s start by explaining this for those who aren’t familiar with this. With your Vesica account, you get the option to choose a URL for your gallery, much like you do when you create a twitter account. So, if your name was John Smith, you could choose http://johnsmith.vesica.ws much like you would choose http://twitter.com/johnsmith if you were creating a twitter account.

In many ways, the benefits of choosing the correct Vesica URL the same that you would get from choosing the correct twitter URL. There really is no exact science to it, but I will try and give you some pointers to explain the importance of a URL in general, then in context of a URL on Vesica, followed by the importance of a web URL or gallery name in the art world, especially in the online arena.

  • What URL you choose for your Vesica Gallery (or otherwise) should be driven largely by what your use of the Vesica Gallery will accomplish. For instance, an artist may choose to have a gallery for different reasons from a collector, an art gallery or a museum.
  • If you’re an artist:
    • Your URL should probably (and primarily) be motivated by your desire to get exposure and perhaps sell some of your work online. SEO, or any other form of search related stuff, should be second priority, at least at the domain name level. Think about it, even if you secure http://vangogh.vesica.ws and someone does search for Van Gogh and lands in your gallery, they’ll leave quite quickly UNLESS you are actually selling Van Gogh work (or replicas, etc.).
    • In my opinion, as an artist, you need to differentiate yourself. You need to be identified by who you are and what you do. You’ll never gain the respect of tasteful art collectors or buyers (ones who really appreciate it as opposed to the ones who just like to go to auctions to spend their laundered money) unless you define who you are, what inspires you to paint, carve, sculpt or draw abd what your work signifies. If you won’t take the effort to establish yourself and explain your art, it will be difficult to get anyone else to appreciate it. Not every artist has or can afford a commercial agent to sell their ‘abstract’ work which really is a bunch of zig zag lines. Explain what they mean to you and what they should signifty to the viewer and the buyer. It’s your point of view, so your gallery should have your reference or name in the URL.
  • If you’re an art gallery:
    • You would probably want the URL to promote the name and brand of your gallery, along with the type / genre of art that you deal in.
    • Even as an art gallery, I think you need to distinguish yourself in the online arena. The Vesica platform is built to allow you to add objects and pieces to your gallery and display them in a comprehensive fashion unlike any other online gallery – the trick is to use this in conjunction with your main website (if you have one) or use this primarily as a tool to archive, document, manage, market and sell your gallery and the works of art you exhibit.
  • If you’re an art collector:
    • The URL you choose for your online showcase or gallery depends very much on what your goals are. If you want the world to know who you are, you could consider using your name. If you don’t, perhaps you could use a name that appropriately reflects the medium and type of works you have in your collection. So, for instance, if you had a collection of Mughal jewels, you could use http://mughaljewels.vesica.ws.
  • If you’re a museum:
    • Perhaps you would want to use your name. For instance, the Guggenheim would use http://guggenheim.vesica.ws.
    • Whilst the primary use of a Museum for Vesica would be to use the comprehensive documentation and archiving platform and drive visitors to the physical location, a Vesica gallery can prove to be a comprehensive showcase of the Museum’s Collections and deliver visibility which a museum’s website can, in many cases, not.

Okay, so those were some brief thoughts on why you should choose a particular subdomain name or URL. The question that comes up quite often is what will the SEO effects of the gallery URL be. The correct answer here is: not much. Whilst the domain name is quite important, at the end of the day, it is content that matters. So, as advised above, whilst you should use the URL of your Vesica gallery to identify yourself and make it easier for others to identify and find you, the trick to getting SEO right is to using the Vesica documentation platform and fill in as much information as you can about your piece or work of art. Our team has invested hundreds of hours into delivering content that is search engine friendly and will get ranked once we start promoting galleries at Vesica. Therefore, if you want to utilise search engines to increase the visibility of your gallery and your works, that is where the focus should be as opposed to the URL.

Note, however, that the URL is vital to how your audience will perceive you. You should, therefore, choose it carefully.

May 14, 2010

Creating Art Collections in Vesica

Filed under: Using Vesica — Tags: — admin @ 3:49 pm

Creating an art collection in Vesica is as easy as clicking the mouse a few times. Really, following the steps below is is all it takes:

1. Sign in to your Vesica account.

2. Click on Collections from the mail Menu across the top.

3. Once you’re on the collections page, simply click on the create a collection button, and the collection name form will appear (see screenshot). Enter a name from the collection and press the continue button.

Vesica - Create a Collection

Vesica Screenshot - Create a Collection (1)

4. You will now go to the next screen which will allow you to enter a description and upload a default photograph for this collection. This information is optional. On this screen you will also have 3 tabs. Click on the Pieces tab to choose which pieces you would like to associate with this collection. Once selected, simply click the Submit button.

Vesica - Add Pieces to Collection

Vesica Screenshot - Add Pieces to Collection (2)

5. That’s all. Collection created. If you want to display the collection in your Vesica Gallery or the master Vesica Gallery, you can update the settings appropriately in the Settings tab.

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