Content Management Conference Website
Welcome to peterboyd.com
Peter D. A. Boyd
Multi-disciplinary Content Management in Darwin Country - a case study
Peter D. A. Boyd
Collections Manager and Darwin Country Project Coordinator Shrewsbury Museums Service
"Darwin Country" is a website project that was initiated in February 2000. The first stage was called "Cradle of Science, Technology and the Better Life!" It was created to provide an inter-disciplinary introduction to scientific, technological and social development in part of the West Midlands during the 18th and 19th centuries.
It was intended that it would enable life-long learners to explore the history of the period through the archives, paintings, decorative arts, archaeology and scientific collections of the partner museums. The project was grant-aided by the Resource IT Challenge Fund and the West Midlands Regional Museum Council until March 2001 and the WMRMC supported the project with further grant-aid during 2001-2002.
The initial partners were Shrewsbury Museums Service (the lead partner), Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and the Wedgwood Museum.
The scope of Darwin Country was extended after March 2001 and by April 2002 the website had over 5000 pages and images. The initiation and development of the first stage of the Darwin Country project is described elsewhere (Boyd 2002 Web version available).
The Darwin Country website consists of dynamically generated pages. The website structure was the result of the wish to provide access to images of museum objects in a multi-disciplinary way and create what I have called a 'knowledge-net'. Orangeleaf Systems provided a Content Management System for this. The content of the site is stored in a mySQL database running on a LINUX machine with Apache as the web server. The pages are created using queries on the database server using the open source server side language PHP, using just under 20,000 lines of code. Some graphical interface work was performed using Perl 5™.
The following notes provide the text of 'text slides' and the url for screen-views used to prepare 'screen-shot slides' in the presentation.
Website Content Management in the context of Darwin Country
Content Management is not just about a software system for running a website
Content Management is part of the process that:-
Screen-shot of database-driven Home Page of Darwin Country website http://www.darwincountry.org
How do you navigate the site?
Time Page http://www.darwincountry.org/category.php3?trail=1035
Conceptual model of 'hierarchical' database-driven website
Conceptual diagram showing 'hierarchical' structure of most websites whether 'hand-crafted' or database-driven. Each circle represents a page or link so that navigating a website from a link on the Home Page (at the top), the routes are pre-defined by the designer of the website. The visitor can only reach a particular page (at the bottom) via one particular route.
What does a hierarchical structure mean in terms of navigation on a site?
Examples: People>Names>Charles Darwin Topics>Ceramics>Porcelain>Coalport Porcelain Places>Staffordshire>Barlaston>Wedgwood Pottery
Conceptual model of 'knowledge-net' database-driven website
Conceptual diagram showing 'knowledge-net' structure of the Darwin Country database-driven website. Each circle represents a page or link and navigating the website from a number of links on the Home Page (around the edge), the visitor can follow a wide range of different routes, exploring the site but 'theoretically' still arrive at the same particular page (in the centre). In practice, the website provides thousands of pages and possible routes which increase as the website grows.
What does a knowledge-net structure mean in terms of navigation on a site?
Example - all of the following and many others:-
Places>Shrewsbury>The Mount>Charles Darwin
Places Page http://www.darwincountry.org/category.php3?trail=1034
Screen-shot of part of database-driven page of Darwin Country showing example of an interactive map that provides another means of accessing pages about particular 'places'. http://www.darwincountry.org/category.php3?trail=2860
Screen-shot of part of database-driven page of Darwin Country showing a 'topic' (Pteridomania) linking to other related 'topics', 'plants' and timeline. Lower down on such a page, thumbnail images of related museum objects link to pages about those objects (e.g. ferny Coalbrookdale cast-iron seats). http://www.darwincountry.org/category.php3?trail=1258
Result of clicking on thumbnail to open medium image and object details
Result of clicking on medium image to open large image
Plants page http://www.darwincountry.org/category.php3?trail=1036
People page http://www.darwincountry.org/category.php3?trail=2860
Screen-shot of part of a database-driven page of Darwin Country showing text with images about Charles Darwin reached via an initial trail of 'places', the trail of pages followed, links to 'top' categories and 'find', links to categories related to page displayed, and timeline. The same page could have been reached from 'people' or via numerous other starting points or trails. http://www.darwincountry.org/category.php3?trail=2747
Animals page http://www.darwincountry.org/category.php3?trail=1037
Objects page http://www.darwincountry.org/category.php3?trail=1039
Screen-shot of part of database-driven 'Images' gallery where thumbnails of all the objects illustrated on Darwin Country provide access to larger images and information about the objects. http://www.darwincountry.org/gallery.php3?
Topics Page http://www.darwincountry.org/category.php3?trail=1038
Search results for 'Osmunda'
Medium image of Osmunda sy1803 http://www.darwincountry.org/object.php3?objectID=5113
Some Website Project Management Processes
Processes to be managed after set-up of project include:-
1.Selection of museum objects
2.Photography/digitisation of museum objects (2D/3D)
3.Preparing primary object record on website database using Content Management System - based on individual images with at least one category link
4.Uploading images (thumbnails, medium and large)
5.Enhancing object image record with text, keywords and category links - may need to create new categories
6.Making object records live
The Content Management System
CMS Admin page
CMS Objects table view showing clubmosses
Medium image of clubmoss http://www.darwincountry.org/object.php3?objectID=5144
CMS Objects database input form
Records are made up of:-
Each 'category', 'object' or 'event' may be linked to up to 7 categories
In this way objects may appear as 'Associated Objects' on up to 7 different pages
CMS Objects database input page showing Red Admiral Butterfly entry showing use of html for scientific names etc.
Content Management -in all senses of the term - allows:-
However - more can be done - more quickly - if you have subject specialist staff and more money!
Home Page again http://www.darwincountry.org
Screen-shot of Home Page of touch-screen version of Darwin Country for in-gallery use. This uses the same database of information as the web-based version. http://touchscreen.darwincountry.org
Further details of IT projects in Shrewsbury Museums Service at:-
BOYD, P.D.A. (Forthcoming). 'Darwin Country - a case study in website creation and content management' In Special Content Management issue of Spectra (a publication of the Museum Computer Network). Web version available
BOYD, P.D.A. 2002. 'Darwin Country - Cradle of Science, Technology and the Better Life!' - a case study In Clicks and Mortar - building cultural spaces for the 21st century. Proceedings of Museum Documentation Association Conference, September 2000. Web version available
BOYD, P.D.A. 2000. Heritage UK plc - a portal to space and time through web GIS. In Geographic Information supporting UK plc. Association for Geographic Information Conference Proceedings 2000. Published on CD. Web version available
BOYD, P.D.A. 1999. GIS in Museums - a case study. In Access to Better Information. Association for Geographic Information Conference Proceedings 1999, 8.9.1-8.9.7. Web version available
Darwin Country website at http://www.darwincountry.org
Shrewsbury Museums Service Website at http://www.shrewsburymuseums.com
Orangeleaf Systems website at http://www.orangeleaf.com
Peter D. A. Boyd's website at http://www.peterboyd.com
Content Management Conference Website