Back to top

Summary and Slides for IIIF event

Last week, DRI co-organised with UCD Library a fully booked seminar on IIIF – the International Image Interoperability Framework that has been created, adopted and implemented at repositories across the world in a relatively short period of time. The event was sponsored by DARIAH Ireland, which is involved in a series of events over the course of 2017 and 2018 aimed at the interoperability and sustainability of data in general, and research data in particular, with a focus on the arts and humanities.

Originally expected to attract 30-40 participants, interest was so high that the room bookings were altered to accommodate the 73 people who signed up, which bodes well for the future of implementation in Ireland.

Participants were welcomed to the event at the Royal Irish Academy by the co-hosts, Dr. Natalie Harrower, Director of the Digital Repository of Ireland, and Dr. John Howard, University Librarian at University College Dublin. These institutions were the first to implement IIIF in Ireland, and both spoke to the benefit of collaboration, and wider implementation across Ireland.

Following the welcomes, Tom Crane (Digirati) provided an overview of IIIF, noting the thousands of silos of brilliant images available at repositories worldwide, and how IIIF provides a tool to instantly share, connect and compare that content. He used the Mirador browser to demonstrate how content from Stanford and Oxford, two original IIIF adopters, could be compared side by side in the same view. Crane went on to explain how IIIF publishes Manifests to contain complex digital objects. This markup document (JSON and Linked Data) contains one or more Canvasses, which are abstract spaces on which the digital objects are displahed. The canvass is then filled with Annotations, which could be image, text, audio, or video. To illustrate the flexibility of this approach, he showed an example from the Bibliotheque Nationale that combines annotations from different sources to reconstruct old manuscripts – illuminations from one repository source, transcriptions from another. The upcoming version 3 of IIIF will allow for time-based annotations, and a beta version is planned for release by May 2018, to coincide with the upcoming IIIF conference in Washington, D.C. Crane shared an example of a video of Glenn Gould playing the Goldberg Variations, alongside an image of the score that was highlighted as the playing progressed. This example proved to be one of the ‘hits’ of the workshop – participants returned to it many times in the ensuing discussions, demonstrating a lot of interest in the possibilities of A/V annotation. The possibility of building 3D support in IIIF was also discussed – people are invited to join existing community groups or create new ones.

Following Tom Crane’s introduction, Glen Robson, IIIF Technical Coordinator, gave further rich examples, and discussed how the open standards adopted by IIIF allow for the same manifests to be displayed in a number of different viewers. He also talked about how institutions and individuals could seek assistance, or get involved in IIIF, which is based on a network of adopters. Glen has made available a very handy list of resources at Responding to audience questions, Glen noted that the IIIF community is made up of people from a variety of backgrounds – many are not developers – so those focused on content types, for example, are welcome and encouraged to join. He discussed how some institutions choose a hosted solution, which reduces the internal software engineering requirements. Questions were raised around particular aspects of implementation and performance, such as which image format was best to use. In theory, IIIF states that format should not matter, but in practice the consortium has found that tile-based images such as JPEG2000 respond the fastest.

Following these broader overviews, the workshop then moved to short implementation stories, highlighting work that has been done with IIIF by Irish institutions. First up was Stuart Kenny, software engineer at the Digital Repository of Ireland, who traced how DRI implemented IIIF. The initial implementation of the image viewer was straightforward, but then Kenny spent time trying different browsers to find the best fit and performance. In this case, he moved from Mirador to Universal Viewer, back to Mirador, onto Leaflet IIIF and then settled with OpenSeaDragon. Kenny used examples from DRI and UCD Library to compare similar images.

Peter Clarke from UCD gave the next presentation, focusing on the implementations of different aspects of IIIF at UCD, such as the image manipulation plugin which provides an image cropping tool that creates a permanent link to the cropped version – an excellent addition to IIIF functionality that has proven quite popular. He also demonstrated the Geospatial API that enables the visualisation of still images on a map, and the Transcription plugin that is useful particularly for handwritten text not easily read by OCR technologies. Clarke noted that IIIF is so compelling because it ‘shifts the focus from library standards to web standards’ – a quote that was shared on Twitter several times by event participants.  

The final implementation story was by Cillian Joy who is still in the process of tweaking the new implementation of IIIF at NUIG. NUIg uses Islandora as their digital repository, and Omeka for exhibitions, and noted how he addressed the challenges presented by this particular software stack. In the past, Joy explained, digital exhibitions would have been recreations of physical exhibitions, but IIIF allowed them to approach digital exhibitions differently. He showed their recent Michael M. O’Shaughnessy digital exhibition as an example.

Following these talks, the workshop took a break for lunch, and then reconvened to divide participants into groups based on the practical discussions they were most interested in having. Several groups formed to tackle different questions.

Overall, the workshop was an excellent way to bring people together to discuss how Irish institutions could benefit individually and collectively from more widespread implementation of IIIF. The possibility of an Ireland user group was raised (Glen Robson is happy to facilitate the creation of this on IIIF’s website), and many participants expressed interest in a regular IIIF event in Ireland going forward.

Agenda with slides:

10:45-11:15: Intro to IIIF (Tom Crane)

11:15-11:45: How to Get Involved & Community Highlights (Glen Robson)

11:45-12:15: Q & A

Implementation stories

12:15-12:25: Stuart Kenny (DRI)

12:25-12:35: Peter Clark (UCD)

12:35-12:45: Cillian Joy (NUIG)

12:45-13:00: Q & A

Break for lunch (provided)

14:00-15:30 Workshop


About IIIF:

IIIF is a community-drive initiative that has been adopted widely by libraries, museums, archives, software companies and other organizations in a remarkably short period of time. IIIF enables fast, rich zoom and pan delivery of images, manipulations, annotations, and the assemblage or comparison of images from other IIIF-based resources across the web, regardless of source. The more repositories that adopt it, the better it becomes as a shared resource. For more information, see: 

The IIIF Code of Conduct applies to all IIIF events and related activities.

Hashtag: Tweets about the event should use #iiif and #IIIFDub and @iiif_io