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.

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).

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.

May 17, 2012

Museums and the Cloud: Common Questions

Here’s a list of common questions (and brief answers) that museums and private collectors with sizable collections tend to ask when considering Vesica. If you have more questions you would like added to the list or require more in-depth answers, please comment or get in touch.

Is the cloud reliable / how often would the application go down?

The cloud is reliable – very reliable. In fact, it is probably almost always going to be more reliable than any software application you deploy in-house. Sure, there are outages, but they are rare. Cloud providers like Vesica backup your data several times in the day too – so even if there are unanticipated circumstances, the application and data can almost always be brought back. Let’s put it into perspective, the cloud is as reliable as Amazon, Google, Microsoft Hotmail / Azure / Office 365 are. If you use any of their services, you are already using the cloud.

Will we really save any money?

Yes, a lot of money. Simply put, if you adopt a cloud solution, especially one like Vesica for Collections management, you don’t have to pay to purchase, maintain and upgrade servers. You don’t have to pay IT staff to setup and maintain these machines or networks. You don’t need to get into or get involved with complicated licensing or long term contracts for desktop software. This applies to virtually ALL cloud applications. Vesica can help museums save 30-60% of their existing cost for collections management systems deployed in-house. It also offers you a lot of added functionality out-of-the-box, like portability via an API, with zero additional costs or modules.

Do we need to backup our data? If so, what are our options?

Do you backup your hotmail or gmail email? If you don’t, you don’t need to back up your cloud applications either.

However, if you’re still getting comfortable with the idea of moving into the cloud, most applications will allow you some kind of an XML formatted backup which can be exported into other databases or software applications in the same industry.  You can get a CDWA Lite compliant XML backup in Vesica. You can even download all your media separately – we’re considering wrapping it all up together to let you get a compressed backup file, but for clients in excess of 100GB, many don’t have any way to open those files, so it’s best to import the XML backup into another application.

To put things into perspective, most people using Windows 7 cannot open a file larger than 4GB – compressed or not.

How do cloud providers like Vesica backup their data?

Different providers have different policies, but everyone backs up regularly – it’s part of being a service provider. Incremental backups are and can be deployed across multiple sites along with full data backups at several locations. It’s really quite safe and cost effective and feasible due to the economies of scale involved.

Will the price ever go up?

For most cloud providers, this is unlikely (at least in the near future), unless the way the tech industry works changes drastically or the US Dollar, sterling or dare I say, Euro, collapses.

Can we enter information in foreign languages?

Yes. MOST cloud applications support UTF-8 encoding which has built-in support for foreign languages. That should include everything from Arabic to Hebrew to Mandarin.

Do we need to involve IT?

Typically, no. Because for most cloud applications, all you need is a computer / phone / tablet pc with an internet connection.

How does cloud or web-based software work with our website?

Most cloud applications, by their nature of being delivered as a service, come with Application Programming Interfaces, which effectively allow you to integrate them with other applications, similar to how you would a desktop based database that you had access to (although many of these might require you to purchase additional add-ons to web enable them). Using this Application Programming Interface, you can extract information that sits in your cloud based application and display it any which way you want on your website. It’s not complicated, but it does require the ability to develop websites. Many cloud software providers also have modules available for third party CMS’ which your website may use – that effectively means you’ll be up and running with a few clicks. Vesica, for instance, will have a Drupal module that can seamlessly integrate your collections with your website later this year.

How can we get data in and out of cloud based collections software?

You can generally extract all the data as XML. Depending on the nature of the application and what you store, it may be feasible for you to get CSV files or download all your media as 1 compressed file.

As a museum, what opportunities does switching to the cloud present us with?

Many. The cloud allows you to save money and focus your efforts on what you do, whether that’s conserving, preserving, educating or engaging your community without having to worry about technical staff, technical problems, upgrades, downtime or any technology driven financial inconsistencies.  It takes a slightly different mindset to adopt the cloud, but for museums that do, it is a liberating experience.

September 21, 2010

Vesica moves out of Beta

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — vesica-press-releases @ 11:14 am

Vesica – the world’s first online art documentation platform built for collectors, galleries, museums and artists was moved out of beta on Monday, September 20, 2010. Having released the comprehensive platform, Vesica’s focus now moves on to adding additional features based on the feedback received from private and general beta phases.

In addition, the company is starting to focus on helping art collectors based in the Middle East, Europe and the Americas focus on research and documentation work for their art collections. “(For many collections) there’s very little known information about the history of a particular piece of art, it’s symbolism, the techniques that went into creating it, why it was created or who created it,” says Asif Nawaz, Director at Vesica. “We aim to help collectors and museums discover, document and share this information, so that the world can be educated in the history and symbolical importance of these pieces. As future generations move away from traditional, handmade arts and crafts, Vesica aims to help build a platform that will preserve the sanctity of art and help prolong the importance of and present this information to future generations in digital formats and media that they are more familiar with.”

Vesica is a carbon neutral, solar powered and hosted on demand art management software delivered as a service that helps collectors, museums, galleries and artists document, manage, market, share and monetize their art collections. The software has been developed by London, UK based Vesica Ltd.

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

January 4, 2010

Vesica Goes into Private Beta

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — admin @ 1:01 pm

Vesica was today released into closed beta testing. Users who have previously shown interest in the software have been sent out login information and passwords to log in to Vesica and test out the functionality of the software. There’s some front end work that needs to be done, and as we receive feedback from this closed set of users, we will be taking the software into public beta next month.

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