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Technical Workflow for French of Italy

Omeka used for our exhibit

Omeka is primarily a platform for presentation. Because our exhibit is Neatline-centered exhibit, however, we used Omeka as a holding-ground for the records we would eventually put onto the Neatline map.

Entering items into Omeka requires a description based on a standard meta-data system called Dublin Core. Because our textual witnesses do not have metadata that corresponds to Dublin Core standards, we decided (for simplicity’s sake) to use the fields provided for Dublin Core data, and simply assign certain categories of our own information to each field.

Once some of our textual witness had Omeka records, we were ready to work on the map. Beginning work on the map before entering all our items into Omeka facilitated the distribution of work between multiple people, and prompted us to improve our choices about the structure of the Omeka records.

The Neatline Map - Entering the Items

We found that the most effective way to enter the items into Neatline (our primary goal) was to enter them into Omeka first, then to import those records into Neatline, break the links between the two to allow us to edit the Neatline records, and then change the layout as we wished.

The Neatline Map - Using Simile

We chose to use a Simile timeline and Neatline Waypoints to add a temporal dimension to a Neatline map. By default, the timeline not only points out the date and controls what date the map is showing, but also includes “event tape” for each record running from that record’s start to finish dates. For our project, the timeline quickly became cluttered, so we modified the css rules for the public version of the map, setting the size of the event tape and of the text for the timeline events to 0. We also moved the timeline from the bottom of the map to the top, and changed its size and color. Most of these modifications are discussed on the Omeka forums.

The Neatline Map - Using Tags

Because we chose to use different shapes and colors for our icons to designate different genres, we used the Tags in the Neatline editor extensively. Tags act as css selectors, and allowed us to edit the color, opacity, line style, and other style effects of all the items in a single genre simultaneously using Neatline’s stylesheet and a dialect of css.

The Neatline Map - The background Image

Because modern maps show anachronistic regions, and because we wanted to define areas for manuscripts of ambiguous provenance, we used a custom background for our map by creating an image in Photoshop and georectifying it. For most of this process, we followed David McClure’s instructions. We found, however, that some of them were out of date (for example, NeatlineMaps no longer exists, and its capabilities are now included in Neatline), and some seem to have been overly complicated for people with very little background in this type of work.

To georectify the map, instead of using ArcMap, we used mapwarper.net. Users can create a free account, upload an image, and “pin” it onto Open StreetMap (OSM), then save it and download it as a GeoTIFF (an image file with geospatial data included). This method is less sophisticated, but was sufficient for our needs, and bypassed the more complicated parts of the instructions -- we did not need to modify the “header” or add transparency as suggested in Part 2 of the instructions (we skipped Part 2 altogether).

Finally, we followed David McClure’s instructions to use our Geoserver to pull that GeoTIFF from our files and prepare it for use online. (When we were trying to use ArcMap to create our GeoTIFF, we ended up with an incorrectly saved GeoTIFF, and Geoserver was “unable to list layers for this store”.) Once the file was a public-facing layer in Geoserver, we were able to use it as our basemap by creating a new item in our Neatline editor and setting the WMS address as that of our geoserver /the-workspace/the-layer-name for the specific GeoTIFF we wanted, and the WMS layers as the-workspace:the-layer-name.

Multiple Map Projects on One Omeka Installation

Because our two map projects are significantly different, we found it essential to create a custom theme for each map. Essentially, these themes can contain very little information, simply inheriting everything important from the current public theme. For certain elements, however, such as the font in or style of the popup bubbles, or the size of the map on the page, the separate themes can be useful for creating different visual presentations.

Our exhibits use these plugins:


Neatline Widget - NeatlineSIMILE Timeline

Exhibit Builder


CSV Import


Simple Contact Form