Limited offer: 20% discount on Bridgeman Education subscription

21 09 2010

The first 50 to register for Bridgeman Education’s updated and freshly designed resource will receive extended trial access and a 20% discount off subscription for the first year. Contact Bridgeman Education for more information.

Bridgeman Education provided me with trial access in order to feed into this research project. The design is definitely fresh; very clean with lots of white space to enable the images to take centre stage. Some of the features I liked the most were:

  • The zoom feature is intuitive and easy to use, and many images can be zoomed to view details such as brush strokes, for a great experience try the following:
    • Gogh, Vincent van (1853-90). 1890. Bouquet of flowers. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.
    • Freud, Lucian (b. 1922). 1991. Leigh Bowery. Private Collection.
  • Search results can be sorted by relevance, image number, artist name, artist nationality or medium.
  • The simple search is useful enough without the advanced search, even though this has been integrated well. I found that once I had done a simple search being able to click on the hyperlinked artist name was brilliant. They have also hyperlinked the keywords field.
  • Good error messages: they have really thought about the user experience and automatic feedback is sent to the developers.
  • The SlideShow feature

    One of the best features is the renovated slideshow experience. Images can be added from thumbnail results page, or core record page. There is a permanent slideshow tool bar at the top right of the screen; when you first login this is a blank square, but when you start adding images, the current slideshow displays a miniature version of the images chosen. This is a very good visual reminder. The toolbar also has very helpful tooltips over the icons to the extent that I did not need the help section at all.

    Once you have added images to the slideshow more features can be accessed. Cropping images is easy, and can be reset with the click of a button at anytime, the slides can be organised into twos or fours, and there are a few other viewing options. There is a choice of Artist Name, Title, and one editable field called Caption.

    Slideshows can be downloaded as a PDF document, or in a zip folder, which once extracted works like a small website. It would be great if it was possible to add additional images to the slideshow from other image libraries or collections. The XML file that is provided with the zipped download can be edited to do this, I have tried and can report that it works, but depending on the number of images this could be time consuming.


Image databases and presentation software

17 09 2010

Catherine Worrall, Image Collections Co-ordinator at the University College Falmouth, has given her kind permission to publish the following review. She discusses how the University College Falmouth use three databases to provide images and presentation software to their staff and students, and why it is important for them to use all three in combination.

1. ARTstor

Although I don’t demo the ARTstor offline viewer, I have looked at it and think it’s useful, although it doesn’t have all of the functions that the online viewer does, including adding text/notes to the images, I think you have to do this in the online one, which then transfers across. But it is good though in that you can add your own images and combine them with ARTstor’s images.

Teaching students how to use these various image databases has been an interesting experience as they vary greatly in their functionality. ARTstor I feel wins hands down in most categories, it’s very intuitive, it’s functions are excellent, in particular the zoom feature is the best that I have seen. It now features a PowerPoint download option, which is really easy to use, and simply downloads an image group directly into PowerPoint in a few clicks. Although I try to encourage staff and students to use ARTstor’s slideviewer, as it is really good, users tend to get stuck in their ways and often resort to PowerPoint (which I think is a shame, as it was never really meant for images). The only downfall with ARTstor is the subject coverage, it has an American and art history bias, and is lacking in design history, however students seem very happy with it for research, and staff here are also impressed with it mostly because of its sophisticated functionality.

2. Bridgeman Education

Bridgeman has a more European and British bias, compared to ARTstor and provides access to images which are more obscure or from private collections. Bridgeman has recently upgraded its functionality, with big improvements to their slideviewer and zoom features. Demonstrating Bridgeman has been fine and both students and staff navigate the interface with no problems, and there has been positive feedback regarding its subject scope.

3. Madison Digital Image Database

MDID2, which is the version we’re using currently, although we will migrate to MDID3 when it is available in the autumn, has been great. It’s given me a place to store images and metadata, and is easy to upload both images and metadata. We will be launching it in the autumn, so I have limited experience of demonstrating it to others’, apart from a few staff members involved in our pilot. Compared to ARTstor, its functionality is not as sophisticated, but it serves a purpose, it’s somewhere users can store their own images and combine them with others both in MDID and elsewhere to create slideshows/groups of images. For us, it is a place to keep unique local collections such as Cornwall Artists and Designers and Degree Show work, and I’m sure it’ll be useful when it is launched. The slideviewer is pretty easy to use and staff liked the lightbox viewer in particular, as it reminds them of viewing slides.

Overall, for now, it is important for us to have all 3 image databases, as they work as a team, and each has its pros and cons!