DMMapp 3.0!

We have been working hard, and we are super-proud to announce that the DMMapp 3.0 is out there and available for everyone to explore and enjoy!

Critics say:

“It’s the best DMMapp yet!”
“It just works!”
“10/10 would DMMapp again”

No they don’t, but we like to imagine they do! Let’s go and see what has happened in the past months.

The new DMMapp 3.0
The new DMMapp 3.0

What has Changed in the DMMapp? And Why?

What we wanted to address in this release were two things: maintainability and usability of the DMMapp.

We’ll start with the latter: the DMMapp 2.0 worked fine; but “fine” was not good enough in our opinion.

We believed that there was no need for two different tabs [ 1 ]“Data” tab, and the actual “map”, but rather we thought that there should be a single tab where the user could choose what to see and explore. In our vision, the data and the map should have been in a single page, interacting with each other. Furthermore, we considered the filtering tool inadequate and rather clunky.

With these two problems in mind, we went to work: we implemented an omni-search box that replaced the old, clunky, filtering method: just type any text in the search box, and the app will start filtering instantaneously the results as you type: Searching for libraries in “London”? Type it in, and magically the list will display only the libraries from that city. Want to know which libraries are from Italy? Type “Italy”, and ta-daah! – only the libraries in Italy are displayed.

That took care of the filtering, but what about the “Single tab” dream? We addressed that too: The table interacts with the map now! [ 2 ]Datatable and Google Maps simply didn’t like each other. Google Fusion Tables is also a non-Mobile Friendly solution. A good 15% of the traffic ...continue After you find the library you want to browse in the table, you tap on the table and you will be taken to the map. The link to your library will appear, zoomed in and highlighted, on the map. All that is left to do is tap the button and off you go to the manuscripts from the institutions you chose!

If you simply want to browse the map you can still do that too!
Continue reading →

Footnotes   [ + ]

The DMMapp 2.0!

dmmapp 2.0

An improved DMMapp is on the way!

“We are dedicated to making digitized collections as easy to access as possible.” That’s the objective of the DMMapp Beta. Since its release, the DMMapp has been linking digital repositories to it users; but we believe it can always be better. That is why we have been reworking the app and are now releasing a public beta version for users to test and give us feedback.

With this release we particularly wanted to address various issues, mainly regarding performance and usability.

dmmapp 2.0
A sneak-peak behind the scenes!

The Map and the searchable database

The map is awesome, and we have lots of fun in randomly clicking on the pins to (re)discover a collection; but it can be impractical for users that are searching for a specific library (or city, or anything.) Yes, there are filters, but it is not the fastest, nor handiest way to go around. This is why we created the “Data-page” some time ago: no fancy graphics, but a super-fast filterable table.

The issue with the current version of the DMMapp is that its two souls (map and data pages) behave like two different entities: when you go to the DMMapp, and then click on “Data”, the page has to reload, instead of being a streamlined experience. A far from perfect. Plus, we are not on the fastest servers ever, and it can take quite some seconds before the page loads, and every reload means that server resources are being used, and that the whole blog will be slowed down.

Therefore, in the DMMapp 2.0 we have made it so that map and data load simultaneously, and that switching between map and data is instantaneous!

“You get to contribute! You get to contribute! Everyone gets to contribute!”

The DMMapp has been on GitHub for years, but we have never really promoted its presence there until now. GitHub is a place where people share their code. It’s where the base for the DMMapp was found.

Well, let it be know that it is there and it’s for you to play with. There are issues that you can help fixing (typos, dirty code, bugs…) We have dropped the foundations for the tool, but it is open to everyone to improve, like it should be! So, come and have fun with the code of the current DMMapp branch!

Even if you love codices more than code, you can give a look at what we are doing and where the DMMapp is going.

CDNs for a faster DMMapp

We have outsourced some the scripts necessary to make the DMMapp 2.0 run (jQuery, for example.) Again, we use dirt-cheap servers and we cannot use many resources from them (remember, we are just two guys with no founding from anyone!). In the original DMMapp we used our own scripts coming from our own server, now these are delivered by CDNs (content delivery networks) in order to put less strain on the server and leverage on their speed. The downside is that, in case of an update on these scripts, the DMMapp might break. This possibility is remote, and we believe that the advantages of using CDNs outweigh the risks, for now.

Desktop, tablet, and mobile

We want the DMMapp to be usable on every device: are you at special collections and need to check if another library has a digital version of a manuscript? IPad next to you? DMMapp! At home, bored, and feel like exploring some digital collections? Laptop? DMMapp! On the train, sudden urge to see how many libraries have digitized manuscripts in Spain? IPhone? Android phone? Windows phone? DMMapp!

That is the goal. We are almost there, but not quite. What’s not working? You can see it on GitHub, and try to fix it if you want!

“DMMapp 2.0? Cool, I want to try it!”

Feel like giving the DMMapp 2.0 a try? Please visit the public beta and let us know what you think about it!

Digitized Manuscript from the Biblioteca de la Universidad de Barcelona

Devotionarium - Universitat de Barcelona. CRAI. Manuscrit. Ms. 1860

The Biblioteca de la Universidad de Barcelona one of the many new digitized libraries to the DMMapp (we are now at 500+!). The link to the Barcelona University Library was given to us through a tweet from @Archivalia_kg (he also has an excellent blog in German!)

The Biblioteca de la Universidad de Barcelona website

This is the second digital library from spain we review, with the first one being the Biblioteca Nacional de España. The Universidad de Barcelona (here) is home to 69 digitized manuscripts dating from the 10th century until the 18th. The interface is excellent: The link we provide takes you directly to the manuscripts. Here you can choose to have a “thumbnail” overview of the manuscripts along with the standard list. Manuscripts are completely digitized from front to back, and you are able to download them in rather high-resolution (1500×1200 circa, depending on the manuscript). The images present, in my opinion, an evident “blue” tint, meaning that the there is “too much blue channel” in the digital pictures. The images you see in this post have been processed. Something to keep in mind when looking at the miniatures for research purposes. Furthermore, there is no indication of which folio is being looked at, or being downloaded; only a generic indication of a “page”. The website is available in Catalan, Spanish, and English. The available metadata is quite standard and nothing more: no description of what is being looked at except the title, author, call name, copyrights, etc. A little description on significant folios or miniatures would have been nice to see, but it would be huge quantity of work to be done.

Copyright the Biblioteca de la Universidad de Barcelona

The images from the the Barcelona University Library are public domain, that means that images can be downloaded and used for any purpose.and that’s always a welcome sight! You can share the images on your blog, publish them in your book or thesis, make videos out of them, or anything that comes to your mind. Very good!

Highlights from the Biblioteca de la Universidad de Barcelona

The Universidad de Barcelona digital collection is full of interesting manuscripts to be explored. Here are some examples:

Psalterium - Biblioteca de la Universidad de Barcelona CRAI. Manuscrit. Ms. 165
Psalterium – Universitat de Barcelona. CRAI. Manuscrit. Ms. 165
Liber horarum - Biblioteca de la Universidad de Barcelona CRAI. Manuscrit. Ms. 1841
Liber horarum – Universitat de Barcelona. CRAI. Manuscrit. Ms. 1841

The digitized manuscripts of the Fitzwilliam Museum

Marlay cutting It. 12
Marlay cutting It. 12 – The Burial of St Monica at Ostia (left) and St Augustine Departing for Africa (right).

That little jewel in the in the center of Cambridge that is the Fitzwilliam Museum is home to an extraordinary collection of paintings, engravings, and most importantly for us, digitized medieval manuscripts. These manuscripts are available online (and linked in our app) so we went to give a look to see what wealth is available to us.

The Fitzwilliam Museum’s website

Following the link in on the DMMapp, you are taken directly to a list of all the digitized objects made available from the Fitzwilliam Museum that contain the keyword “manuscript”. As you will notice, on the left there is the possibility to further refine this search by showing objects that contain images, by maker, production place, etc., giving you plenty of control over what you would like to find.

Master of the Murano Gradual
Master of the Murano Gradual, The Dormition of the Virgin from the Gradual of San Mattia in Murano, Venice, c. 1420

Manuscripts are partially digitized and in most cases you will not be able to browse from front to back cover, but you will still be able to look at more than 700 digitized and described objects. The metadata is of alternating quality. In some cases you can read through a detailed description of a manuscript (MS McClean 172 is a perfect example), in others you might find the title and some basic information only (see MS CFMurray 15).

The technical problem with the images is that they are “responsive”. This means that the smaller your screen is, the smaller the digitized image shown will be. Furthermore there is no direct way to view the images full size, or to zoom in and out. That is a bit inconvenient; although a user-friendly solution (you will always see a good image, no matter on what device you are on), it doesn’t help a researcher that might be interested in the small details.
Finally, the size of the images themselves are not amazing. They are actually rather small: with the long side hardly ever going above 720 pixels, one could say they are “HD Ready” more than “Full HD”.

Although rather small and not perfect to navigate, the digitized pages are still an excellent starting point for both researchers and manuscript enthusiasts.

What can I find there?

Fascinating to us is the presence of an inhabited letter attributed to the Master of the Murano Gradual. If you have visited the Getty Museum’s collection after reading our post about it, you will note a striking resemblance to one of the digitized images available there. To prove the quality the descriptions available there, we strongly recommend that you give a look at the notes available on the Fitzwilliam Museum’s page regarding their initial. It narrates a very fascinating story about miniature painting in Italy in the late 14th century.

And don’t forget the miniatures by the “Masters of the Beady Eyes”! Awesome!

Masters of the Beady Eyes
MS 1-1974 – Illumination in the style of the Masters of the Beady Eyes (Maîtres aux Yeux-Bridés), who were active mainly in Ghent during the third quarter of the fifteenth century.

Overall, the Fitzwilliam Museum’s website and its digitized collection is most certainly worth more than a visit. There is a lot of content worth viewing, and navigating through it is a pleasure. Go and see for yourself!

The digital collection of the Openbare Bibliotheek Brugge (Public Library of Bruges)

DE NATURA RERUM [MS. 411] - Detail from the Public Library of Bruges

As someone who loves manuscripts and medieval culture, you might one day end up in Belgium, exploring Flanders, and you might go to Bruges, which was flourishing in the Middle Ages. The area has produced countless beautiful manuscripts with a very typical and recognizable style of  illuminations now preserved at the Public Library of Bruges.

Bruges’ golden days were in the Middle Ages when it was a very prosperous harbor city that attracted many merchants. The historical city centre today is still much like it was in the Middle Ages which makes it an amazing place to visit for every medievalist (or everyone. Period).

While you are there, there is also a library you should visit: the Openbare Bibliotheek Brugge (OBB) – Public Library of Bruges and its extensive collection, which you can visit here or here.

About the Openbare Bibliotheek Brugge – Public Library of Bruges

Situated in the city center, the OBB is home to volumes that once belonged to various monastery libraries in the area; in 1798 the French government gathered these books into one collection and in 1804 this was handed over to the city of Bruges, where it is now housed in the Public Library of Bruges. The library also possesses manuscripts from the Cistercian abbeys of Ten Duinen and Ter Doest not too far from Bruges.

The Public Library of Bruges is currently doing an excellent job digitizing their manuscripts, and many of these are already available online. Unfortunately, at the moment the databases can only be consulted in Dutch because of government decrees, but worry not! We are here to help you on your way navigating through the collection and find awesome manuscripts!

As always, you can access the Openbare Bibliotheek Brugge via the DMMapp, or you can start by looking at the manuscripts on this page, clicking on them and discovering the rest of the collection on their website. There are various places where you can view the manuscripts, and find information about them:

Over at Flandrica, if you are viewing the full entry of a particular manuscript you can click the images on top to view them bigger. Or you can also view it online if there is the orange button with “Bekijk online”.

A look at the digital manuscripts

The viewer for the manuscripts gives a nice thumbnail overview in the left sidebar to make it easier to navigate and find what you are looking for. It gives a bit the experience of ‘leafing’ through the book. Unfortunately, at the moment the images can be only zoomed to a small degree (click right to zoom) and the images cannot be downloaded or directly shared.

What is very good about the library’s own website is that they give a direct link not only to the digitized manuscript but they also refer you to various other sources about the book such as books, articles or blog posts. Also, the full descriptions of the manuscripts are rich, and in the future they will be expanded with iconographical descriptions.

Under ‘media’ you can see some pictures of the manuscripts, the complete work can be seen through the “Bekijk hier de digitale versie” link. The images in ‘media’ are of good size and quality and can easily shared and/or saved.

In this library you will not only find beautiful examples of the best of medieval Bruges illuminated books of hours. For instance they also preserve a manuscript of the Liber Trotula (work on women’s medicine), an early printed edition of Ovid’s Metamorphoses with illuminated borders, a work by Augustine, De Natura Rerum (by Thomas of Cantimpré), a legal manuscript (Justinian) possibly from Bologna, and much much more.

The collections of the Openbare Bibliotheek Brugge are a beautiful showcase of the  treasures from this part of Flanders and are certainly worth visiting, both in real life and digitally.

Highlights:

For some manuscripts you cannot find the digital version, but you can find some images in the blog posts, if they have written about this manuscript in particular.

Finally, we leave you with this fantastic video made by them:

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