We were very excited yesterday to see that the great team at Omeka had rolled out the official 1.0 version of Omeka S (in addition to a gorgeous new website that highlights both S and Classic versions of the software). We’ve been following the project with anticipation for quite awhile now and we know a few users have installed the software manually while it was in the alpha/beta stages. An installer has always been on our radar but we wanted to allow the Omeka team to provide a clear line of support and feedback loop for their product while it was still in beta via their forums (which continue to be a wonderful resource for support of the software with the developers very active there). With the software reaching maturity now and being publicized more widely it was time to make it easy for any Reclaim user to give it a go.
So what is Omeka S? If you’re familiar with Omeka for exhibits and one-off projects you’ll find that Omeka S is a better approach for managing multiple repositories. You have one set of code, plugins (or modules as they’re called now), and themes that are shared across the sites you create. In many ways this will remind you of WordPress Multisite versus standalone WordPress. For institutions or organizations tasked with managing more than one Omeka install this opens the door for an easier workflow. And Omeka has rebuilt their codebase from the ground up.
As of today the installer has begun rolling out to all of our servers (both shared hosting as well as institutional Domain of One’s Own systems). You’ll find installation incredibly straightforward. Simply choose the location you want to install to and fill out a few brief fields setting a name, email, and password and you’re off to the races. Here’s a quick screencast showing what that looks like:
Last night we recorded over 10,000 users through our customer support tool Intercom. Of those, 3000 have been reported as active in their Client Area over the last month. I’m sure there is some slippage in the 10,000 number, and not all of them are still customers. But it does point to the fact that over the last two and a half years there has been an a groundswell of interest in Reclaim Hosting services beyond our wildest dreams—well, except the one involving handcuffs and Drano.
Anyway, what Tim and I imagined as a niche interest in other schools running Domain of One’s Own pilots quickly unearthed the fact that just about everyone in educational institutions from IT to libraries to academic departments to individual courses were looking to host off-campus. And while most folks turn to the big hosts initially, it quickly becomes apparent that nobody can support students and educators using open source web applications like Reclaim Hosting. #NOBODY!!! We know what you need before you do [said while waving arms creepily, yet gracefully].
But the aggregate is just that, and numbers can quickly become a telescopic hammer that only provide vague outlines of what’s happening. So let’s get microscopic and look at just one. Yesterday I got a question from Anna E. Kijas, Senior Digital Scholarship Librarian at Boston College Libraries, regarding some thumbnails that weren’t working on her Omeka install. Turns out the path on the server to the ImageMagick library Omeka requires was off, preventing the resizing and generation of thumbnails for images. We got that fixed, and the site was back to its original glory.
Out of curiosity I looked around Anna’s site, discovering the open access scholarly research site Documenting Teresa Carreño, dedicated to the nineteenth-century Venezuelan pianist, singer, composer, and conductor [[Teresa Carreño]]. I was learning about this world renowned pianist for the first time, and I love how each item in the collectionis based on a documented performance she gave between 1862 and 1917. Here’s a random entry featuring a write-up from the The Evening World about her performance at [[Carnegie Hall]] on December 8, 1916, noting she had “maintained her power, her art, and her musicianship unimpaired.”
A perfect example of the web of sharing that I love supporting.
Omeka continues to be a huge draw for a variety of students, faculty, and librarians using Reclaim Hosting. And the good folks at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media have been champions of our service from the beginning, and that has made a huge difference for us. One of the issues that has come up regularly is storage for Omeka sites, which by design usually have large archives of documents, images, etc. We tend to keep our storage space for our Student and Faculty plans fairly low (2 GBs and 10 Gbs respectively) because we are trying to keep costs low, and the sales line of “unlimited” storage space for shared hosting is impractical for us. We recently introduced an Organization plan that has 100 GBs for just these instances because the need is there. That said, if you have a lot of resources you might be better off with a service like Amazon’s S3—the backup redundancy is insane and you can’t beat the price.
Over 8 months ago Tim Owens figured out Omeka has the option for pushing all uploaded files to S3 built into their code. It’s just a matter of setting up an Amazon S3 bucket with the right permissions and adding the credentials to your Omeka’s config.ini file to get it running. I was intrigued by the process, but Tim had taken care of it so I knew it was theoretically possible—but never tried it. Yesterday, however, I had the opportunity to help a Reclaimer get this up and running for their Omeka install. With some help from Tim on a couple of details I missed, I got it figured out. The rest of this post will be a step-by-step for setting up S3 storage with a self-hosted Omeka site. Continue reading “Setting Up S3 Storage for Omeka”