Vesica Blog - Taking museum and art collections to the cloud

March 23, 2013

Simplifying JQuery Dialogs

Filed under: Tech Talk — Tags: , , , , , , — Asif N @ 12:08 am

Working on a web application that uses multiple JQuery dialogs?

You’re probably sick of rendering dialog boxes with JQuery’s .dialog() function and all of its parameters.

So here’s a tiny little function that you can include in your AJAX application at the top level via a <script></script> tag, and then simply call each time you need to render a dialog. So you can effectively accomplish what you need to do in one line instead of 10.

The function below requires multiple parameters:

  1. target_class – This is the name of the class you want the dialog rendered in. It doesn’t have to exist in the DOM, the function will create it.
  2. title – The title of your dialog
  3. width – The width of the dialog
  4. height – the height of the dialog
  5. load_file – An external file or view that you want to load inside your dialog
  6. buttons – A JavaScript array containing all the buttons your dialog needs. This array should contain a button id and button text, and can be formatted as:
    buttons[0]['id'] = ‘save’ ;
    buttons[0]['id'] = ‘Save this Content’ ;
    buttons[1]['id'] = ‘default_cancel’ ;
    buttons[2]['id'] = ‘button3′ ;
    buttons[2]['text'] = ‘A 3rd Button’ ; 

As shown above, you can add as many buttons as you want using an array.  The function also created a default cancel button that will close and destroy the dialog if you pass the id ‘default_cancel’ to it.

Note that once you have the dialog rendered, you can use more JavaScript driven by the ID of each button to decide what happens when that ID gets clicked. This should ideally go in a JS file tied to the view or page you load into the load_file parameter of the function.

There are several ways to to tweak and improve the function depending on what you are rendering your dialogs for,  so please feel free to make any changes and / or share your thoughts. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

 

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.

January 21, 2013

Tech Talk: URL Hashing and JQuery UI Tabs

Whilst Vesica uses JQuery, what’s discussed in this article is not used in Vesica, but in a similar application we helped build at the  NHS (National Health Service) which borrows from the Vesica interface.

The application in question is a single page application, so virtually everything is done via AJAX. The URL receives different parameters via a URL hash, which updates different sections of the page DOM or accesses different parts of the interface, including JQuery UI tabs. These single page, multiple hash URLs can be called via a bookmark URL, or will trigger on a url change in the browser. What’s important to note here is that in an application like this, when you submit data, all you really need to do is change the URL – your hashing managing JavaScript should do the rest for you (in terms of routing your data to the server side, not actual processing). I’ll also show you some JavaScript to deal with JQuery UI tabs after your page loads as working with hashing will disable the default URL behaviour that allows you to call tabs via the URL.

Requirements

If it’s not self-explanatory, you need the following to accomplish this:

  • JQuery - http://jquery.com/download/
  • JQuery UI - http://jqueryui.com/
  • JQuery Hashchange plugin from Ben Alman - http://github.com/cowboy/jquery-hashchange/raw/v1.3/jquery.ba-hashchange.js and http://benalman.com/projects/jquery-hashchange-plugin/
Please load the JavaScript libraries in your page (preferably in the header) in the order listed.

How it works

Here is what we need to cover:

  1. Someone either loads a URL in their browser which is part of your single page application (this could be via a bookmarked URL or by simply typing or pasting in the address bar), in which case you simply need to pick up the URL, process, and update the page.
  2. Someone performs an action that will change the URL of your application – which should either update a database or update the page, or whatever it is supposed to do in your application.
The JQuery Haschange plugin will only help you accomplish number 2. Number 1 is simple JavaScript / JQuery.
So how does your application know that the URL in the browser has changed after the #? With the following code.

So if your existing URL looked like http://example.com/#Page1 and you changed it to http://example.com/#Page2 with an <a href> or a <button>, would see the alert box above. Note that if you wanted to to alert something anyway, you would simply put that code outside the $(window).hashchange() function.

This is the easy bit – now for how you would pick up different parts of your URL, splice them up and send them to your scripts as needed to process, and then perhaps load a JQuery UI tab on your page.

Assumptions

Let’s clarify what we have in our example.

We are trying to load a different type of product based on a type parameter, followed by an ID, followed by a bunch of parameters that style the image and options that get displayed for the product.

So, if you were using PHP and building your URL query string, it might look a bit like:

http://example.com/product.php?type=bottle&id=3426&colour=green

If you wanted to load a particular JQuery tab on this page that had the id ‘dimensions’, your URL would become:

http://example.com/product.php?type=bottle&id=3426&colour=green/#dimensions

When the page loaded, JQuery UI would know you want to load the dimensions tab and it would simply make it active.

But using the $(window).hashchange() function above will break this default JQuery UI functionality.

So, our goal, given our single page application, is to be able to reload a certain part of our page based on a URL that looks like the following:

http://example.com/index.php#product/type=bottle&id=3426&colour=green/dimensions

The way to read the above your URL is: Give me the product page with bottle No. 3426 in the colour green and display the dimensions tab on the product page. You could change any of the values above to process different data – so you could have product, category or generic types of pages, hundreds of different products and hundreds of different colours.

Sounds simple enough. This would be accomplished with the following code, and please note, as mentioned above, that to trigger this change for bookmarked URLs or those pasted in the browser you can enter this code outside the $(window).hashchange() function in a <script type=”text/JavaScript”></script> tag directly in index.php (where index.php is the file that runs your single page application) or create a another JavaScript file and include it in your index.php file via the <script> tag. To trigger it with a button click or <a href> change, please wrap it inside the $(window).hash function as shown below. Technically, you can wrap all this code in a function and call that on $(window).hashchange() being executed.

The above code now gives you access to to all the different parts of the URL hash, and will do so every time it changes. All you need to do now is use the $.ajax() function in JQuery to process this data, get the results back, and set the active tab as shown below:

That’s it, that code should pick up any changes to the URL and process them according to the code above.

As this is JQuery, remember to wrap all of the above code in $(function(){ {); as shown below. I’ve also added the code above outside the hashchange function so you can see how to setup the default page handler as well as trigger it off when the page URL changes.

I’ve stated before that you can (and probably should) write a function to do the above so you don’t have to reproduce your code twice – but this should give you an idea of how to handle hash changes and process them.

January 18, 2013

Introducing Vesica Tech Talk

After a quiet holiday blogging season, we have a bit of a twist and some regular updates planned for the Vesica blog, including a new section called Tech Talk.

Tech Talk will be discussing some web based technical implementations that we at Vesica have used in the application and in exteral projects (our team gets to work on several external projects that are modeled after or integrate with Vesica in a variety of industries) – small snippets of code or technical advice that could save you (or your technical team) hours or days if you’re building something similar.

In addition, we’ll be rolling out some videos (not in the Tech Talk but the Using Vesica and Upcoming Features Sections) to demo some of the existing functionality, new functionality (that was released over Christmas and has just recently made it to the features page – https://vesica.ws/features/timeline/), and upcoming functionality like the Research and Bibliography tab.

The first Tech Talk article (coming this Monday) will discuss some JQuery implementations adapted from Vesica for use by one of the applications for the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, the interface for which was inspired by Vesica (and we helped design and build it).

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.

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 27, 2012

Why we went with the .WS TLD

Last week I had a conversation with a friend and a colleague who really could not understand the reason we run Vesica on the .ws TLD. As a global museum based business, he was adamant that we can and only should use .COM. This has, of course, come up in the past – but no one has expressed such strong feelings. In fact, publications that have written about Vesica have actually attempted to explain why we use .ws, but I figured it’s time for an official version.

Let’s start with a bit of information of TLDs, which is the last part of the domain name as we know it. So, this could be .com, .co.uk, .fr, .uk.com, .net, etc. etc. TLD stands for Top Level Domain. TLDs come in different types, but the common types are:

gTLD – this is a generic TLD and does not tie you down to a specific country or a sponsor. Common ones you are most familiar with are .com, .net and .org.

ccTLD – this is a country specific TLD and also comes in an internationalized variety (this distinction is not necessary here). Examples of such domains include .co.uk, .fr, .es, .br, .us and so on so forth.

sTLD – These are sponsored TLDs. An example of this is .museum. Try http://icom.musuem, for instance.

So what really is the difference? A TLD helps identify the domain name. So you know that a .co.uk means the website belongs to the UK. You know a .museum means the website is a museum or is something related to one.

From a practical standpoint, this can have marketing and SEO level ramifications (and any other level if you are used to blowing things out of proportion). You can argue that from a marketing standpoint, the TLD can be very important. .COM or .NET almost always imply a larger, more dominating internet presence – it’s just how most people have been programmed to react to TLDs. If you are in marketing, this is a big issue. My personal view – it’s really quite important – but its importance depends on what the website in question really does. Most marketing people actually forget to address that more important issue.

Technically, the wrong extension can make or break your efforts. To market any application, it is probably good to have ccTLDs to market in a specific market. This is because Google will always consider a .co.uk extension as a more relevant result on google.co.uk than it will a .com or .fr extension. So it’s not just about the marketing anymore, but the wrong extension might mean the difference between you getting found or not via search engines online.

But what if you run a website or application online that is really not country specific – like Vesica. Sure, we might want to market to different countries and for that we could setup either subdomains like fr.vesica.ws or get domains like vesica.fr, but at the end of the day, the primary language is English and the application itself is always delivered on the vesica.ws domain.

The key to not getting lost on the internet is to get a generic TLD. gTLDs are considered somewhat internationalized, meaning that unless you specifically tell Google to prioritize their searches to one specific country, they are considered equal for all (unless your content really focuses on a geographic location). This is by no means a detailed and comprehensive answer (and there is a lot to this discussion that I am happy to go into should it tickle someone’s fancy) – but it is this particular issue that restricts you to the following TLDS:

  • .COM – this is undoubtedly the globally recognized and popular TLD
  • .NET – The second best, whatever it technically means (that’s irrelevant)
  • .ORG
  • .BIZ
  • .MOBI
  • There are a few more that qualify, and .WS is one of these

Now for answering the real question – why did we choose .WS? Because it is considered a gTLD and was available.

How is .WS a generic name when it is supposed to be a ccTLD for Western Samoa? Well, because an American company bought the rights to rebrand it as .WebSite and for all technical purposes, google considers .WS to be a gTLD. Unlike other gTLDs like .mobi or .tel .asia, .WS (WebSite) does not limit us to a specific medium (like a mobile device or phone) or a specific location (like Europe or Asia).

It simply means WebSite. Whilst it’s not as catchy as .com or .net, it technically can and does serve the same purpose. It’s clear from the Vesica website that we are a website and company based in London – and it’s really quite short and easy to remember.

Are there any other technical issues that can occur if you use such domains? Perhaps – especially if the infrastructure that resolves NS records for your TLD is sitting in a small island nation that doesn’t have the technical knowledge or infrastructure to support global traffic. Luckily, .WS nameservers resolve from all over the world, including the United States and the UK – see http://www.iana.org/domains/root/db/ws.html. This is primarily due to the rebranding initiative of Global Domains International. In a worst case scenario where such a spread of infrastructure is not available for your TLD, switching domain names if one does go down isn’t all that difficult as long as you own a few – and a company like Vesica that serves its customers primarily via the internet always has a plan in place to deploy such a backup within hours, if not minutes.

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 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.

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.

April 18, 2012

Google Maps and Interactive Cultural Experiences

CS Fine Arts Center Interactive Google Map

The next version of the Vesica Interactive Timeline will feature a fully searchable, interactive timeline built on Google Maps. Whilst work has been ongoing to integrate the Google Maps API with Vesica along with other features, we recently had the opportunity to build a simple integration for the Introducing America exhibition at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

For users looking forward to enhancements to the newer timeline feature in Vesica – this is what it will be based on. You’ll be able to select a period and visualize your images in a map, then zoom in to interact with them. You will eventually also be able to further filter the data on this map like you can when you’re searching for pieces / objects in your account. So, in theory, you could ask the map to visualize for you all the objects in your collection between 1820 and 1880, then choose to look at just textiles, and then zoom in to the Far East region and see what you may have in your collections from China on the map.

Once complete, museums will also be able to port the map out to an external website using the API – which can add a new dimension of interactivity to museum websites.

The map for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center can be viewed here.

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.

 

November 8, 2011

The Vesica Partner Program

The Vesica Partner Program was launched earlier this week and is now accepting applications.

Ideal for professionals and companies who work with the museum, heritage, art or cultural sector, the Vesica Partner Program offers a host of benefits to Partners, including:

  • Additional, on-going revenue

  • PR Opportunities

  • Participation in our Webinars and at Customer Events

  • And much, much more…

Vesica is a pay as you go, cloud-based collection management software application for museums, collectors and heritage organisations. With unlimited storage, CDWA Compliant data feeds, streaming audio and video, charts and other interactive educational and marketing tools, Vesica offers museums and heritage organisations a SaaS option, enabling  them to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in IT and licensing fees in addition to gaining operational efficiency and increasing revenue streams.

To become a partner, apply today at https://vesica.ws/partners/.

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.

August 19, 2011

Update: Streaming Video, Audio and Search Report Printing

Filed under: News,Technology — Tags: , , , , — Asif N @ 5:03 pm

As mentioned in Tuesday’s preview of today’s update, Vesica now supports audio and video streaming via HTML5 across a variety of browsers and formats. Here’s a brief overview of today’s updates.

» Audio / Video with HTML5

The audio and video integration simply adds on top of your existing piece and collection pages. You’ll see audio and video tabs across the top when you add / edit a piece or collection as shown in the screenshot below:

audio video tabs

Adding and streaming videos is also really simple. Just click on the + button as shown below to add a video or audio file, and simply click on the file name to start streaming it. You can also change the file name / description, or download it.

video tab - vesica

You are currently able to upload the following formats:

Audio: MP3, OGG, WAV and WMA
Video: MP4, AVI, MOV, OGG / OGV amd WMV

» Icons

You’ll also notice the use of the pencil and trash can icon in the above screenshots. In this release, we’ve rolled out icons for all common functions, including editing, deleing, saving and printing.

» Printing

In addition to being able to print detailed reports about a particular piece or object in Vesica, you can now pring reports about listings of pieces filtered by virtually any of the parameters. You can do this by running an advanced search report on your main piece listing page. Simply select from the criteria you need and once the results appear, click on the print icon. The screenshots below will show you how easy it is.

1. Click on Advanced Search to bring up the search dialog, choose your criteria and press the Search button.

2. Once your search results appear, just press the Print button to print the results. It’s simple!

Today’s update brings us a step closer towards making Vesica a collection management platform that supports media of all types for museums and collectors.

There’s more to come on additonal planned features – visit https://vesica.ws/features/ for more details or subscribe to our rss feed.

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.

July 28, 2011

Vesica now available on Google’s Chrome Web Store

Filed under: News,Technology — Tags: , , , , , — vesica-press-releases @ 11:00 am

Vesica is today available on Google’s Chrome Web Store, which allows you to install apps within the Chrome browser for easy access. Install the app today by visiting https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/acdplfpagmdnkcaekeeklfdiphcpnnep. The Vesica app is available free to all users.

July 13, 2011

Vesica API (beta) Available Today

Filed under: News,Technology — Tags: , , , — vesica-press-releases @ 2:11 pm

A beta version of the Vesica API is available today.

As one of the most requested features, the Vesica API allows you to add, view and manage your objects and collections by sending various parameters via the “POST” method. In return, the API sends XML based on the received parameters. The Vesica API can be used to export data from your Vesica account or to display information on your website or other in other applications.

The API is being developed actively and will be updated from time to time, as we add additional functionality to it.

To get started, see the API documention for developers on https://vesica.ws/developers/.

July 5, 2011

Vesica is now available on AppDirect

Filed under: News,Technology — Tags: , , , , — vesica-press-releases @ 5:28 pm

July 1, 2011 – Vesica is now available via the AppDirect marketplace.

AppDirect is a free web-based application which allows you to use and manage web-based applications from anywhere in one simple and secure site. It’s also a marketplace that provides the latest web-based applications. It really is based on the concept of simplifying the use of software on the internet, so we’re glad to be a part of it.

“The integration with AppDirect is another step towards increasing the global awareness of Vesica,” says Asif Nawaz, Founder and Chief Software Architect at Vesica. “With AppDirect’s single sign-on functionality, museums and other art, heritage and cultural organisations can now fully benefit from the use and pricing structure of SaaS applications without the hassle of  managing cross application usernames, passwords and security controls.”

Vesica is the first art collection related application on AppDirect.

Already use AppDirect? Sign-up for Vesica on https://www.appdirect.com/apps/552.

For further information, please contact the Vesica office on +44 (0) 20 8133 8050 or .

June 20, 2011

Vesica joins AIM and BAFM

We are pleased to announce that Vesica is now part of the Association of Independent Museums in the UK and the British Association of Friends of Museums.

These memberships come as part of our larger plan to integrate with the heritage, culture and museum communities in Britain and to help, wherever and however we can, with our expertise and Vesica.

As such, Vesica can help member organisations plug looming funding gaps, save costs and monetize their existing collections in many ways, in addition to helping museums digitally document, manage and archive their collections.

For more information, or speak with a member of our team about how we can help, please call 020 8133 8050.

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 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.

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