Neatline Plugin

Building an interactive map using Omeka’s Neatline plugin

Neatline is a plugin for Omeka that allows for the creation of interactive maps and timelines. Neatline allows the user to plot points on geospatial layers that, when clicked, reveal text and media. Users may create records from scratch and add them to their Neatline exhibits, or import existing items from Omeka. See Neatline.org for demos of this tool in action and more documentation.

Before using this tool, you’ll need to install the Neatline plugin to Omeka. If you’ve already installed the Escher plugin, you can use it to install Neatline. If not, follow the instructions on the “Installing Plugins” section of this support page.

 

Vocabulary

Item: Omeka’s basic building block, containing text, media, and/or metadata.
Collection: A group of items, typically sharing a common theme.
Record: Neatline’s version of items. Can be created on their own, or imported from an existing item in Omeka.
Exhibit: A Neatline map or timeline; contains your records.
Widget: An add-on tool for Neatline, such as Waypoints.
Spatial layer: A navigable map that Neatline can use, typically pulled from Google Maps. The various options Neatline offers have different aesthetics.

 

Setting up (first time only)

1. Install the Neatline plugin (see above). Install any additional supporting plugins you’d like, such as Neatline Waypoints.

2. Go to your Plugins page in Omeka. Then, click “Configure” to the right of Neatline. On the configuration page, click the link to developers.google.com/maps/web. If possible, open this link in a new tab, since you’ll soon need to return to the configuration page.

3. On the Google page that opens, click the “GET A KEY” button at top right. Follow the prompts in the pop-up window to create a new project, named whatever you’d like (this title won’t matter for your Neatline projects). When you’re given a long string of characters, copy it. This is your Google Maps API Key. You’ll only need it once.

4. Return to the Neatline configuration page from step 2. Paste your API Key into the text box. Then click the green “Save Changes” button. Neatline is now connected to Google Maps.

5. Click Settings at top right of your Omeka dashboard. In the text box to the right of “ImageMagick Directory Path,” enter this exact text without the quotation marks: “/usr/bin”. Then click the green Save Changes button at top right. This will allow Omeka to handle your images properly.

Neatline is now ready to go!

 

Laying the foundation

1. Optional: create one or more collections. This is an organizational tool: by creating collections now, you’ll be able to sort your items or bulk import them to Neatline more easily later. To create a collection, click “Collections” on your lefthand Omeka dashboard menu. Then, click the green Add a Collection button. On the Add a Collection page, give your collection a Title (you can leave all other boxes blank). If you want to add formatting to your text such as bolding or italics, check the box next to “Use HTML,” and more editing options will appear.

When you’re done, check the box next to “Public” and then click the green Add Collection button.

NOTE: You’ll see many fields when creating collections or items, but there’s no need to panic: almost all are optional and exist for archival purposes. Only fields with a * after them are required.

2. Begin creating items. Omeka is a tool for curating artifacts. In this step, you’ll begin this curation by creating items. To create an item, click “Items” on your lefthand Omeka dashboard menu. Then, click the green Add an Item button. On the Add an Item page, give your item a Title and a Description (you can leave all other boxes blank). This is the text that will ultimately appear to viewers of this record on your Neatline map. If you want to add formatting to your text such as bolding or italics, check the box next to “Use HTML,” and more editing options will appear.

Check the box next to “Public.” If you wish to add this item to a collection, select it from the dropdown menu under “Collection.”

If you wish to add images to your item, click the “Files” tab, then click “Choose File.” Follow the prompts to upload an image. To upload more images, click the green Add Another File button. These images will be displayed alongside your text when a viewer clicks the relevant point on your map.

If you wish to add tags to your item, click the “Tags” tab, then enter all desired tags in the text box, separated by commas. Remember to click Add Tag afterward.

When you’re done adding text, files, and tags, click the green Add Item (or Save Changes if you’re editing) button.

You can always find your list of items, with the option to edit each one, by clicking Items on your Omeka dashboard. From the Items page, you can also use the blue Search Items button to filter items by user or tag.

Clicking “Tags” on the Omeka dashboard will bring you to a list of all your tags. Click a tag’s name to edit it, or click the number to its left to view all items with that tag.

 

Managing Neatline exhibits and using the editor

1. Create an exhibit. Your Neatline map will be known as an exhibit. It’s now time to create this map. Click Neatline on the lefthand dashboard menu, which brings you to the Browse Exhibits page. Then click the green Create an Exhibit button.

On the Create an Exhibit page: give your exhibit a Title, Narrative (optional but recommended), and Widgets (if you’d like to use Waypoints or another add-on you’ve previously installed). The Narrative is the exhibit’s primary textual description, and it will appear alongside your map.

Scroll down and select a Default Spatial Layer from the drop-down menu. The Default Spatial Layer is the default map style your exhibit will display. You can edit this any time, so try out a few and see which aesthetic you like best. You can also optionally use the Embed Spatial Layers field to allow your viewers to toggle between various map styles.

The only other setting you need to change here (eventually) is Public: when you check this box, your exhibit will be live. When you’re done, click the green Save Exhibit button at the bottom of the form.

2. Access the Neatline editor. Return to the Browse Exhibits page from step 1. To access the editor, click your exhibit’s title. Clicking Public View or Fullscreen View will let you preview how your exhibit will look to visitors.

Here is what the editor looks like. Notice the Records, Styles, and Plugins tabs, and the list of records below the blue New Record button (there won’t be any records until you add some):

3. Set the default focus. This is the latitude/longitude and zoom that viewers will see when they first open your map (they’ll then be able to move it however they’d like). In the editor, click the Styles tab. Click and drag on your map to move it around, and use the + and – symbols at top left to zoom in and out. When you’re satisfied with the current view of the map, click the Use Current Viewport as Default button. This will automatically fill-in coordinates and the depth of zoom. You can also manually add these. When you’re done, click the blue Save button.

4. Import items into your exhibit, which then become records. First, click the Records tab in the editor. Then, click the large blue New Record button.

New tabs will appear. Click the Item tab. You’ll see a drop-down menu called “Search Omeka items.” This will list all the Omeka items you’ve previously created. Find the item you wish to add to the map and select it. The item’s content appears below the drop-down menu. If it looks correct, click the blue Save button. If not, click “View the item in Omeka,” edit the item, and try again.

NOTE: If you edit an item in Omeka that you’ve already imported into your Neatline exhibit, its record in the exhibit will be automatically updated.

NOTE #2: You can also create records from scratch using the New Record button and the Text tab (without making an Omeka item first). However, this isn’t recommended if you wish to include images or other media in your record, since that media would require additional HTML formatting.

5. Pin your records to the map. You can access any of your records from the list of records on the editor’s main page (see the screenshot in step 2 of this section, looking under the New Record button). Once you’re in a record, you can place it on the map. If you’ve just created a record using the Item tab from the previous step, then you’re already in that record.

Once in the record, click the Map tab. You can draw many different shapes here (and feel free to experiment!), but for our purposes, we’ll look at two buttons: “Navigate” and “Draw Point.”

When “Navigate” is selected, you can move your map around without adding anything. When “Draw Point” is selected, you can click on the map to place a blue pin. When a viewer clicks this pin, she’ll see the record associated with it. When you’re done, click Save.

For example: I have a record containing text and images about Shakespeare’s first performance of Henry V in London. I can go into my Henry V record and use “Draw Point” to place a pin on London. Now, the viewer can click the blue dot on London to bring up this record.

Optionally, you can use the Style tab in a record (to the right of the Map tab) to change the appearance of points and shapes for that record.

You can add as many interactive points or shapes as you’d like.

6. Add widgets to your record (optional). If you’re using the Waypoints widget, select it by clicking in the Widgets field. See the next step for more information about Waypoints.

When you’re done, click Save. Then, you can exit out of the record and back to the editor’s main page by clicking the X above the Style tab. You can return to Omeka by clicking “Return to Omeka.”

7. Adding Waypoints: a table of contents for your map. The following guide from Neatline.org explains how to add a list of clickable records to your map, so viewers can jump from point to point without searching the map for them:
http://docs.neatline.org/working-with-the-waypoints-plugin.html

 

Linking your maps to your Omeka home page

1. Choose what links you’d like to display on your home page’s navigation menu. This menu may appear in a slightly different place on your homepage depending on your theme. Here’s what it looks like in one of Omeka’s built-in themes (“Thanks, Roy”):

To edit this menu: from your Omeka dashboard, click Appearance in the black bar at the top of the screen. Then click the Navigation tab.

This takes you to a checklist of links. Each checked link will appear on your home page’s menu. To edit a link’s label (name) or URL, click the small black arrow to its right.

To add a new link: fill in the Label and URL fields at the bottom of this page, and then click Add Link. You can reorder the menu by clicking and dragging the links. When you’re done, click the green Save Changes button.

By default, there will be a link called “Neatline” which takes your viewer to a list of your Neatline exhibits. This is called the Browse Exhibits page, and looks like this:

If you’d rather have links on your menu to one or more specific exhibits, first pull up that exhibit’s public or full-screen view (see the screenshot for step 2 under Managing Neatline exhibits and using the editor above). Copy the URL from the address bar at the top of your browser. Paste it into the URL field on Appearance > Navigation, give it a label, click Add Link, and then Save Changes.

2. OR, choose a different default home page.

To use a list of your Neatline exhibits as your home page:
On Appearance > Navigation, click on the drop-down menu under “Select a Homepage” (to the right of the link checklist). Select “Neatline” (or whatever you’ve renamed it). Click Save Changes to finish.

To use a specific exhibit as your home page (taking your viewer directly to the map):
On Appearance > Navigation, add a link to the public or fullscreen view of the map you wish to be the homepage (see the previous step). Then, click on the drop-down menu under “Select a Homepage” (to the right of the link checklist). Select the link you’ve just added. Click Save Changes to finish.

Now you can share your Omeka site’s address with whomever you’d like, and they’ll be able to explore your interactive map!

Installing Grav

  1. Log into your cPanel:
  2. Navigate to Files > All Applications:
  3. Type Grav in the top right search bar and press Enter. Click Install this Application.
  4. Choose where you would like the domain to live. If you need further assistance on this section, read through our guide on Subdomains Vs. Subdirectories. You’ll also want to choose the latest software version, accept the license agreement, and choose your update preferences.
  5. Scroll down. Choose your Backup preferences. In the Settings section, name your Grav install, type in your contact details and create a username & password. Make sure that you’ve copied and pasted these credentials elsewhere, as you’ll need them later.
  6. Scroll down. Here you’ll have the option to install an empty version of the tool (i.e. a blank slate) or you can install a predefined package with themes/settings already customized for you. You’ll still be able to change settings in a predefined package, but it at least gives you a starting point. When you’re ready, click Install.
  7. You’ll now be redirected to a window where Grav will install.
  8. Once the install has completed, click on the middle admin link to log into your new Grav instance:
  9. Type the credentials that you set during the install process, and click Login.

Grav

Grav is a content management system (CMS) or, said another way, it’s an application to make websites. But differs from other CMSs like Drupal or WordPress in its underlying technology. While it’s a PHP app like those two, unlike them it does not have a database. All data is written directly to files rather than stored and retrieved from a database. This is known as a flat-file system and it can help with performance given numerous database calls can slow down sites.

Why and when would you use Grav? Grav should maybe be reserved for the technically-savvy user. It’s not that Grav is particularly difficult (every CMS has a learning curve) but rather it gets really interesting when you can integrate it into Github using the Github Sync plugin, which syncs everything on your Grav site to a Github repository for others to contribute to, clone, or fork. Grav also requires a familiarity with Markdown, a lightweight Markup language, so that’s something to be aware of as well.

You can learn more about Grav here.

Installing Mediawiki

  1. To get started you’ll need to login to your control panel (https://rutgers-sci.domains/dashboard) using your Rutgers SC&I username and password.
  2. Once logged in you’ll be at the homepage of your control panel. Navigate the Applications section of the cPanel and click All Applications.
  3. Find and select MediaWiki.
  4. The next page gives you more information about the MediaWiki software. To begin the install, click install this application in the upper-righthand corner.
  5. On the next page, the installer will ask for some information about this install. The first thing you’ll want to do is decide where to install it. If you’re wanting to install MediaWiki on your main (the root) domain, you can leave the directory area empty. If you created a subdomain, you can select it from the drop-down menu. You also have the option of installing MediaWiki in a subfolder by typing in the folder name in the Directory field. Click here for more information about subdomains and subfolders.

    (By default the installer will automatically backup your MediaWiki website and update it anytime a new version comes out. While we recommend you keep this option, it is possible to only do minor updates, or turn them off completely. The installer will also create a database for you automatically, but if you’ve already created one for this website you can choose Let me manage the database settings and enter the details.)
  6. Finally, you’ll need to create an initial username and password for the MediaWiki install. Enter those credentials in the Settings section and click Install.
  7. The installer will take just a few moments to install MediaWiki and a progress bar will keep you updated. When it is complete you will see a link to your new MediaWiki site as well as a link to the back-end administrative section for your MediaWiki site.

Congratulations, you have now completed the installation of MediaWiki! You can now start to create collaborative documents on your own domain.

Managing Permissions

The default Mediawiki installed has been customized to make it a bit harder for spammers to overwhelm wikis with illegitimate content and comments. This is done by modifying the LocalSettings.php file (a file that is included in every install in which it is possible to provide configurations details).

By default, Mediawiki allows anonymous users to create pages and edit pages in the wiki. The modifications change this in the following ways:

  • Anonymous users cannot edit existing pages
  • Anonymous users cannot create pages
  • Registered users must click the confirmation link in the registration email in order to edit or create pages

This approach should drastically reduce unsolicited content and comments on Mediawiki installations. One further step that administrator might take is to turn registration off after a predetermined amount of time. Users must create accounts by this date; after that, the settings are changed so that registrations are no longer open.

To add this setting, you must edit LocalSettings.php in your Mediawiki install:

  1. Login to cPanel and browse to your File Manager.
  2. In the File Manager, browse to the folder within public_html that contains your Mediawiki install. If you installed the wiki at the root of your domain, you won’t need to go any further than public_html. If you installed the wiki in a subdomain or subdirectory, you’ll need to find the directory that is associated with that space.
  3. Locate LocalSettings.php. Once selecting the file, click download in the top menu bar to download the file as a backup before proceeding. Then click Edit in the top menu bar to edit the file.
  4.  Confirm that you want to edit the file.
    Confirm that you want to edit the file
  5. Browse to the bottom of the document, and locate the custom settings that were added during the Mediawiki install and the following line:
$wgGroupPermissions['*']['createaccount'] = false;

Creating a Book

To get started in Scalar, you will need to create a book.

  1. Go to your Scalar site via the My Apps link or the Scalar URL you established during the setup process.
    Access Scalar site and click the Sign-in link
  2. Log in to Scalar using the username and password you set up during the installation process.
    log into scalar with your email and Scalar password
  3. Go to the top right corner and click, Dashboard.
    Scalar landing page and dashboard link
  4. Select the My Account tab and at the bottom of the page type in a title for your book. This can be changed at a later time if needed. Click Create.
    Scalar create new book
  5. You now see your book in the “My books” list. From there you will be able to build your Scalar book.

Installing Scalar

  1. To get started you’ll need to login to your control panel (https://rutgers-sci.domains/dashboard) using your Rutgers SC&I username and password.
  2. Navigate to the Application section and select Scalar. You can also use the search function as well.scalar installer icon
  3. When you click on the Scalar icon, you will be taken to the Scalar information page. Click install this application.install Scalar
  4. On the next page, fill in the different fields accordingly:
    -Select the domain or sub-domain where you’d like your Scalar site to live. You can create a sub-domain by following directions in the section Setting up Subdomain. The directory is optional. If you are using a sub-domain, you may not need to use a sub-directory. You can learn more by reading Subdomains vs Subdirectories.

    -Under version, select the version that is most recent.
    -By default the installer will automatically backup your website and update it anytime a new version comes out. While we recommend you keep this option, it is possible to only do minor updates, or turn them off completely.
    -The installer will also create a database for you automatically, but if you’ve already created one for this website you can choose Let me manage the database settings and enter the details.

    -Finally, in Settings, you’ll need to create a username and password for the Scalar install. A password can be generated for you, but you should try to create your own.
  5. Click Install.
  6. Once the installer is finished loading, you will be taken to the My Apps section of the dashboard. Here you’ll find links to login to your scalar installation.
  7. Log into your new Scalar instance with the credentials you set during the install process.

Working with Omeka Classic

Here are a few tips and tricks that can help make sure you get the most out of the Omeka software.

ImageMagick

Omeka requires the ImageMagick library in order to resize and generate thumbnails for your images. Rutgers SC&I provides ImageMagic for all accounts, but occasionally you will need to manually enter the server path to the utility. The setting for this is located under the Settings > General tab and the path to ImageMagick is /usr/bin

image

PHP-CLI

Some plugins including CSV Import and Neatline may need to execute code using the command-line version of PHP. If your plugin requires this it can be enabled by editing the config.ini file in your File Manager under application>config.

Navigate to the line that reads:

background.php.path = “”

Change it to the following:

background.php.path = "/usr/bin/php-cli"

 

Installing Themes

Just as you would install plugins, installing themes to Omeka is very similar. Omeka has a few themes installed automatically that you have access to. But there are more themes available at http://omeka.org/add-ons/themes. There is no automatic installer so you would need to upload the theme to your File Manager in cPanel.

Start by finding the the theme you’d like to install. Download the theme by clicking on the red button.

After, you’ll go to your specific Omeka install. Click on themes.

Click Upload.

You can drag and drop the .zip file into the window or you can click select a file.

Once your file is uploaded to the themes folder you need to go in and extract the files from the .zip folder. Click on the theme file you just uploaded then click on extract.

You’ll need to confirm that you want to extract the files. Click extract files. 

Once the theme is extracted you can delete the .zip file and the theme will now be available for activation within your Omeka administration interface.