Quick and minimal IIIF digital exhibits with Glitch

Continuing in the theme of our last article about Dr. Elena Davidiak’s project Understanding the Hispanic Patient, what happens when you need to publish a digital exhibit, digital edition or DH student project but don’t want to (or can’t) go through the entire process of setting up and authoring your own Omeka, WordPress or Scalar site?

Many digital humanists have used StoryMaps to publish multimedia DH works, especially those including maps or geolocation data. But StoryMaps has its drawbacks too. It’s not especially portable, so projects authored in StoryMaps must stay in StoryMaps, on ArcGIS servers, forever. It also isn’t IIIF compliant, unless you embed a IIIF viewer from somewhere else.

You could use Wax, as we did with Dr. Davidiak’s project. However, though Wax is a minimal computing solution for creating static websites (no complex databases or ongoing security patches needed), it still requires that you are comfortable with using command line coding interfaces and have some experience installing and configuring open source software. That’s something SBU CDH can help you do, if you schedule a consult.

A nice in-between solution which we have recently used to create a quick multimedia exhibit with Mirador viewer IIIF functionality is Glitch, a service that offers a free coding environment for rapidly developing simple web apps and websites. Anyone can try Glitch without even creating an account, although a free sign up is required to make your project permanent. Immediately, several preset templates for various types of coding projects are included.

The real power of Glitch comes from the ability for any user to “remix” an existing Glitch project, altering or adding to customize and build upon someone else’s work. That’s exactly what we did with the Mirador Start project provided by Jack Reed. His Glitch presented a pre-made site with Mirador Viewer already embedded. Editing a few lines of HTML code allows another user to publish their own images in the IIIF compliant viewer. Going a little further with the coding experiment, one can add interactive maps, videos, and customize fonts and styling as desired. Glitch checks your code while you work on it, providing suggestions about format and syntax. It’s a good way to learn as you go, especially if you are new to the realm of HTML code.

In just under two hours, we were able to create a new digital exhibit featuring high-resolution zoomable images (with all metadata) from SBU Library’s Jacob K. Javits: Life & Legacy collection, adding on video from the collection and a live map from OpenStreetMap.

Projects created in Glitch are portable and can be exported to GitHub or as a folder of static website files which can be hosted on another web server.

Posted in Digital Humanities