Omeka is a free, open source web publishing system for online digital archives. Its main focus/strength is producing websites and online exhibitions. Both the Web interface and back end cataloging system are one unified application. Users can build attractive websites and exhibits using templates and page layouts, without having to adjust code, although more robust displays can be created by customizing the CSS and HTML files, and moving around some PHP snippets. Omeka has a plugin available for OAI support to make collections harvestable by major search engines. Although Omeka is a bit more limited than some other applications such as Collective Access (see below) in terms of cataloging& metadata capabilities, it allows fast/easy creation of online exhibits through a Web interface, a low learning curve, many plugins with added functionality, and a large developer community.
Collective Access is a free, open source cataloging tool and web-based application for museums, archives and digital collections. Its main focus/strength is on cataloging and metadata. You can create very robust cataloging records, create relationships between items, create profiles of creators and subjects of items and link them to objects, etc. Collective Access offers multiple metadata schemas. The Web component, called Pawtucket, is a separate installation, and necessitates editing php files in order to build/adjust websites. A front-end PHP programmer would be necessary with this solution, and quite possibly one to set up the back-end templates as well.
ColectionSpace is a free, open-source collections management application for museums, libraries, historical societies, and other organizations with special collections. The application is administered by Museum of the Moving Image, but it’s a joint partners with the division of Information Services and Technology at the University of California, Berkeley and the Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies at the University of Cambridge. The software is made up of a suite of modules and services for managing your collections of digital assets, however it doesn’t have any native ability to create digital exhibits. Instead, it enables users to connect with other open-source applications already in use by the cultural sector for online exhibition creation. The application allows for the creation of a customized controlled vocabulary for describing collections.
Open Exhibits is a multitouch, multi-user tool kit that allows you to create custom interactive exhibits. The strength of this application has less to do with cataloging collections of digital assets, but developing online and interactive exhibits with digital objects. The multi-touch piece comes into play with the ability to specify that certain types of user behaviors will result in various outcomes, e.g. if a user drags a certain section of an image, the entire image will move and readjust along with the movement. Users without technical expertise can work with pre-existing templates and modules, while developers can create their own with the SDK kit. The application uses a combination of its own markup languages – Creative Mark-up Language (CML) and Gesture Mark-up Language (GML) along with CSS libraries.
Pachyderm is a free, open-source and easy-to-use multimedia authoring tool created by the New Media Consortium (NMC). It’s been designed for people with little technology or multimedia experience and involves little more than filling out a web form. Authors place their digital assets (images, audio clips, and short video segments) into pre-designed templates, which can play video and audio, link to other templates, zoom in on images, and more. Completed templates result in interactive, Flash-based presentations that can include images, sounds, video, and text that can be downloaded and displayed on websites or can be kept on the Pachyderm server and linked directly from there.