Here you can find answers to some frequently asked questions.

How to manage multiple projects or case studies

Tag: technical

There are two main approaches how to deal with multiple projects or case studies.

Multiple instances

If every project has their own instance (installation) of OpenAtlas than you don’t have to worry about separating the data later. But it would also mean that data can’t be used together, at least not directly.

Shared instance

Projects (or case studies) can use the same instance which can be especially useful if they share data, e.g. information about places or persons.

For data separation a custom Type can be created, usually called Case study, which can be:

  • attached to multiple classes (probably most of them)

  • set to multiple use so that e.g. a place can be part of multiple case studies

  • set to required so that users don’t forget to enter it

Later on, e.g. when running analyses or developing a presentation site for one case study, this type can be used to separate the data via the API.

How does data access work

Tag: design decision

In OpenAtlas it can be chosen if and when to make data public but:

  • All registered users have access to all model data

  • Either all data is made public via the API or none

  • Presentation sites can filter which data (e.g. which case study) to show via the API

  • Showing images is a special case because it also depends on licenses and the IIIF server

There is no option (or plans to add one) to hide parts of the data for specific users. Reasons for this is that it would conflict with one of our core values (open) but there are also practical reasons, e.g. to avoid duplicates. If a strict separation is needed, using multiple OpenAtlas instances would likely be a better alternative.

How to enter professions

Tag: model

A profession is not entered via a type as a lot of other information you will put into the database. You can enter a person’s profession by linking them to a group. This group consists of people with the same profession. Say you want to enter our lead developer Alex into the database: create a group named ‘OpenAtlas’ and connect him to that group in the respective form. Here you can also pick the role he has in that group from a list of types. For a more detailed tutorial on how to enter professions, have a look here.

How to make files available for the public

In case it is planned to share files with the public, e.g. at a presentation site or a public archive, several criteria have to be met.

Criteria checked by the software

  • The file must exist

  • A license has to be specified

  • It has to be marked with public sharing allowed

In case these criteria aren’t met, a file won’t be:

  • Shared via the API

  • Won’t show up on presentation sites developed by the OpenAtlas team

  • Won’t be included in case the long time archiving system ARCHE is used

But be aware that although the file itself won’t be shared, the file information (e.g. filename) will still be available (e.g. shown on a presentation site).

At file -> list at the top you find counts for:

  • public files

  • public files with a missing license

  • public files with a license but without creator (which many licenses require)

Criteria checked by users

  • The linked license has to be the correct one and allow public sharing

  • Other license specific criteria, e.g. specifying the creator, are met

There are many licenses with different criteria, e.g. a CC-BY 4.0 license requires the attribution to the creator. Because it is not possible to check these automatically, it is the responsibility of the project management to ensure that all necessary requirements are met and to indicated it via setting the public sharing allowed flag.

Be aware that licenses can be linked to an external reference (e.g. an URL) which might be informative for other users or viewers.

Why can’t a free text field be added via custom types

Tag: design decision

A free text entry field would lead to lots of unstructured data. Unstructured data can not be processed automatically and would result in it not being presented nor searchable in the OpenAtlas system as well as in a frontend that presents your data. Therefore, we made the decision, not to include free text types into the OpenAtlas system. Solutions to this problem are very case specific, but you could:

  • use the already provided description fields to enter any type of free text (keep in mind that this also comes with restrictions on how to present this data in a frontend)

  • create a new tree of project specific types for as many cases as possible and structure your data with them – for a step by step tutorial how to create new types, click here.

We are more than happy to help you find a solution tailored to your project’s specific needs, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any additional questions on this topic.

Why can’t longer texts be formatted

Tag: design decision

For formatting longer texts, e.g. entity descriptions, only linebreaks can be used. The main reason for not implementing formatting systems like HTML or Markdown for e.g. bold font, underline, lists and similar is that data may be used by other systems via the API, and these systems are not necessarily able to handle these formats.

Another reason is that these formats might change over time. All in all it is more important for us that acquired data is as interoperable, as long as possible.

Of course the situation is different for e.g. presentation sites for OpenAtlas data. There it would be possible to e.g. add manual formatted texts where needed.