The Museum Platform and open source

v2.0 is here!

Our commitment to open data and transparency drives us to choose to use open source elements as widely as we can in our technology stack, in pursuit of transparency, modularity and transferability for the benefit of ourselves and our customers. The core of this stack is WordPress, the open source CMS built by a huge developer community, and about 90% of everything else we do is completely open, owned by our clients, or open source. This includes the CIIM middleware that drives our collections data layer.  

However, TMP offers a hosted service; it does not sell software for installation: it is “Software as a Service” – SaaS –  and not a bespoke product, in the same way that Facebook, Dropbox or Google Docs are services, in some cases direct alternatives to traditional installable software. Each of these can be customised to your needs, but is not written bespoke for each client. As with any of these services, TMP is founded upon an ecosystem of interdependent software elements, and the service cannot be provided without the whole system.  Consequently, much of the code that makes TMP’s service possible cannot be pulled apart from the whole thing and isn’t suitable for an “open source” model. 

What is important? 

We believe that for our clients and their funders the most important thing is not that they are able to rebuild and run software (or indeed a hosted service) entirely for themselves, but that they can be confident that the system that they depend upon will be available to them for its natural lifespan, and will offer the scope to enhance it as they wish, all at a reasonably predictable cost. And as important as anything, they need to know that they can leave and start using an alternative service as easily as possible and whilst losing as little as possible of the investment they have made in content, design or indeed technology. 

So, whilst The Museum Platform, the service, cannot be downloaded and installed, we recognise the critical importance of data and content portability and the preservation of the effort and resources that our customers invest in the websites. This is especially so in the museum sector that we support and represent, and so we support these needs wherever we can in our choices of formats and protocols, contributed software, and where possible with the rights we grant to use the things we produce (such as designs and code).  

Our standard contract therefore outlines how we realise our commitment to data transparency and openness: 

  • All content and data held on our sites belongs entirely to the museum who provided that content and data 
  • This includes collections content, on-page content, images and any other media 
  • All content and data can be requested on termination of contract or annually and we will provide it in a common, transferable format or file type(s) 
  • Our “3rd party” plugins are open source and can be forked and adapted as needed. Open source works well for these plugins because they are designed to sit outside the service and talk to it 
  • Where a bespoke theme has been created for a client, that theme and all the code within it can (on request) be provided within a GitHub repo 

If you’re unsure whether this meets your project requirements or need further clarification, we can help – please get in touch.