Playing with Plugins
Once Omeka has been installed, it is easy and intuitive to use (for more on Omeka and why we chose it, see my last blog post). However, there are some annoying limitations to the platform, many of which can be overcome with the right plugin or a bit of creative editing; its customisability is part of the draw of this CMS. For example, you can’t upload images that aren’t connected to a database item without the Admin Images plugin. URLs generate as a frustrating numeric sequence only (and if you delete items you will end up with a gap in the numbering system), rather than the name of the item or collection, without the Clean URL plugin. All fields appear as search parameters, whether in use or not, and this clutters up the search box – unless you add plugins like Concise Search or Hide Elements. The default order for items and collections is by most recently added, which is not as useful as either alphabetical or chronological order.
Some of the plugins listed below are offered as default when you install Omeka. Other plugins (not listed here) are installed on Dickens Search but not yet activated; these are intended for use when the website is in its next phase (i.e. when all content has been added).
Plugins currently in use:
- Admin Images – enables us to add images to pages (like blog posts)
- Blog Shortcode – creates a fairly basic blog-like page of posts (there are more advanced ways to do this)
- Clean URL – allows us to specify what the URLs are, instead of a numeric system
- COinS – makes pages readable by citation software Zotero
- Concise Search – removes unused fields from search
- CSV Export – allows the admins to export all item data as a CSV file (not visible to users)
- Date Search – facilitates an enhanced date search, including date range (useful for Dickens Search when we don’t have an exact date for a text (like this one)
- Default Sort – enables us to change how items are sorted in browse views
- Docs Viewer – embeds a document viewer for PDFs (and some other file formats)
- Dublin Core Extended – adds more standard Dublin Core fields to the shared metadata set
- ElementManager – lets us delete and rename elements (specifically so we don’t have to delete all the data already entered in a specific field to change an existing element)
- GoogleAnalytics – allows us to add a GoogleAnalytics tracker to the website, so we can see how many people view it/where from, which pages they view and for how long, etc.
- Hide Elements – allows us to keep metadata fields for admin use but hide them from specific views (such as search)
- Item Compare – lets users view two items side by side
- Ngram – enables Ngram functionality
- Project Guide – adds a project guide link to our admin view
- Scripto – supports crowdsourcing of transcription (currently not available to users)
- Search By Metadata – users can click on certain fields to view all other items with the same data in that field, e.g. in the Publication field a user can click a play, novel or newspaper title and view all other items that appeared in that publication
- Simple Pages – enables us to create pages like our ‘About’ page, not just database entries
- Social Bookmarking – gives users the ability to share items on platforms like Twitter and Facebook
In addition to these plugins, we have a Wiki environment installed but not currently available to users (this is required by Scripto, to support crowdsourcing transcription), and TEI Boilerplate. We are manually preparing TEI files in addition to uploading the text through Omeka itself. These can be viewed using the link in the TEI File field. The intention behind this is to offer the content in a range of formats useful for viewers, but also for digital tools further down the line.
Within the first six months of the project, I have installed and deleted numerous different plugins, testing their functionality and finding out whether or not they suit the project’s needs. I will eventually be writing custom plugins (which will be open source and shared on GitHub) to add functionality that’s not available through existing tools (such as an automated Twitter plugin, to tweet when a new item is added to the website).
If anyone is interested in further information about the development of the website (whether developing their own database or seeking more information about this one), or has ideas for functionality we should add, please contact us.
How to Cite:
Bell, Emily. ‘Playing with Plugins.' Dickens Search. 10 July 2021. Accessed [date]. https://dickenssearch.com/playing-with-plugins.