Develop Software Development 27 March 2017

University Internship: An artwork importer from Europeana Collections for Muzeums

Writen by odc-admin

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The conclusion of a university study experience is surely an important moment and this is where I ended up living it. I am Andrea Cioni, apprentice developer for Oimmei, and I entered the company with an internship that was part of my journey to achieve a three year degree in IT, a title I received in Pisa the 3rd of March of last year. It was my very first working experience in the field of computer development, and now, a few months later, I will talk about it for the blog.

During the internship I worked on the Muzeums project, already mentioned in these pages, which aims to offer interactive and multimedial experiences in museums and art galleries. The users of the app, which is now available for iOS and Android, can look up museums and consult their catalogs, as well as take part to activities like quizzes and treasure hunts featuring the displayed artworks. In the project, of which they were developing a new version when I arrived, I first intervened on the server, before working on the web portal dedicated to museums curators, with which it is possible to insert all the contents the users will see on the app.

On the server, built with the PHP framework Laravel, my main contributions were the following.

  • Editing and enriching the museums search function, which now allows you to find all the available museums without a language filter, each with contents in its main language, and to sort the list based on the user’s position, so they can be shown the nearest museums first.
  • Adding and managing each artwork’s stop number, meaning the number that, inside the museums, can typically be found next to each artwork and allows you to listen to their audio guide. Said number can now be entered directly on the app, so that users can access the artwork’s file and hear the audio guide on their smartphone without needing other devices.
  • Adding the possibility to get the museum catalog divided by floors and rooms, in order to easily see how many and which artworks are displayed in a certain room.
  • Making edits on the database relative to the management of translations. In the version of Muzeums developed during my internship, one of the more relevant novelties is in fact the management of translation for the contents. The database needed a series of edits, both for creating new structures and for organizing old data.

Apart from this and other minor interventions, I developed a completely new component, which involved both the server and the web portal: the artworks importer from Europeana Collections. Europeana is a rich open database, containing data about objects of any kind who are part of Europe’s cultural and artistic heritage. The idea is for museum curators to be able to extract data from Europeana when they want to add information on artworks on display, instead of having to input them from scratch. The importer allows you to look up artworks on Europeana using a series of filters, visualize relevant information and save it on Muzeums’ database. The user can edit and enrich the data at will before concluding the importing.

To develop the component, on the web portal, I created two graphic interfaces with the JavaScript Polymer library: the first one for searching artworks, the second to view, edit and save the information of a single object. Then on the server I added the functions required by the interfaces, which interact with Europeana to perform the necessary operations. The importer is currently working and will be published with the next version of Muzeums’ web platform.

In conclusion, I can say that my internship experience was very important for my growth, both educationally and personally. I got to face pretty complex technologies and projects and I believe that doing it in a work environment has allowed me to grow in many aspects. The hospitality at Oimmei was excellent and after the first approach I always felt comfortable in the company. I am happy to be able to continue, as an apprentice, the experience I started last October, and I hope to be able to participate to many more projects with Oimmei’s team in the future.

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