We’ve just pushed changes for Version 2.0 of The Museum Platform. This is quite a big release for us, and has been the culmination of several months’ work.
Here’s a summary of what we’ve been up to…
CIIM to version 7
The piece of software which sits under the hood of our collections online is KInt’s CIIM. This awesome piece of software gives us rock-solid collections functionality from ingestion to processing through to front end filtering, faceting and API. The latest and greatest CIIM has now been installed and tested for us. We’ll be creating new collections site using this version, and will also perform a gentle migration and testing of existing sites over the coming weeks.
What does this version do? In brief:
- S3 media upload path for users which means our clients get much more transparency around their usage and ability to interact with their collection images and assets
- Geo fields for proper geographical searches
- “semi-structured data”, to allow for the use of arbitrary data outside our standard fields
- Much faster collections updates
- Much faster front end, searches and faceting
We’ve now fully tested the open source analytics app, Matomo, and are delighted to announce that this is now available for all current and future Museum Platform clients as part of their contract with us. Matomo is an easy-to-use but very comprehensive tool for measuring website engagement. It’s easier to use and much more privacy conscious than Google Analytics, and all our clients are loving it.
We’ve developed a new analytics widget which is now available to give “at-a-glance” usage information from the Museum Platform dashboard
New Admin Options
Under the hood we’ve got some new and very powerful administration options, including:
- Framework support – we can now patch in external frameworks such as Bootstrap, UIKit, etc via a simple toggle
- Look and feel changes including override stylesheets, breadcrumb toggle, and more
- Block and Block Pattern options
- The Analytics panel has been totally re-written to support our new Matomo integration. We can now enable Matomo, Google Tag Manager, or Google Analytics direct. We’re looking into other analytics platform support on our roadmap, but for now pretty much anything can be included using GTM!
Blocks and Block Patterns
Block Patterns are (put simply), pre-existing layouts which can be copied and pasted or inserted into any page of your website. It’s an exciting development, but out of the box WordPress doesn’t do a great job of making them easy to use.
We’ve fully embraced the new WordPress functionality, but rather than using the public Block Pattern Directory (which is of very mixed quality!) we’ve implemented our own Block Patterns via a new custom plugin. This allows editors to create, save, edit and re-use block patterns throughout their sites, which will mean more consistent and usable layouts.
Searches on a map
We always had an ability to give items a geographical context using maps, this was technically limited to relatively small sets (up to a few thousand) and crucially it only showed where things were – it wasn’t possible flip it around and to search for records using the map (a precise point or the extent of the viewable map – the “bounding box”). That is all behind us now, and it means that we can use maps much more powerfully. With a combination of server-side and client-side techniques to group (cluster) points we can effortlessly show hundreds of thousands of points – or more!
Underlying all this are some major upgrades to our API, notably the geojson endpoint that is queried live as you zoom and pan around a map like this. And the maps are embeddable into remote websites too!
Support and documentation
It’s not quiiiiite ready but I thought I’d tack it on at the end here – we’ve also in the midst of re-writing all our documentation and help knowledge base and will be rolling this out together with a brand new integrated CRM and ticketing system in the next few weeks. Our aim is to make The Museum Platform the easiest, best and most well supported web publishing platform available – watch this space as we finalise this last bit of our 2.0 launch!