Archives in 3D

All dressed up – RecordSearch has a new look
All dressed up – RecordSearch has a new look

The new version of my Greasemonkey userscript, RecordSearch Image Tools, gives RecordSearch’s digital image pages a rather new look. My previous version had done away with the tired ol ‘lemon-chiffon’ background colour, but I decided it was time to get a bit more adventurous, so I blitzed the old design and rebuilt the page from the beginning.

As you can see from the screenshot, I’ve tried to give the images as much as the screen as possible. I’ve also created a consistent set of navigation buttons, and improved the functionality in various ways.

Archives in 3D – CEDTs from NAA: ST84/1, 1906/21-30
Archives in 3D – CEDTs from NAA: ST84/1, 1906/21-30

But the most exciting thing is that I’ve worked out how to feed the images to the fabulous CoolIris 3D wall. My previous version used the javascript version of CoolIris, which displayed the images as a flat (but still very nice) slideshow. But now, if you have the CoolIris plugin installed you can zoom, pan, fly through the file, dipping in and out as you so desire. It’s a new way of looking at archives.

You can zoom in and out, even see a complete file on a single screen – B2455, WRAGGE C L E
You can zoom in and out, even see a complete file on a single screen – NAA: B2455, WRAGGE C L E

To try for yourself you need to have Firefox with the Cooliris plugin installed. Then you need to get the Greasemonkey extension and, finally, install my userscript. Then just dive into RecordSearch, find a digitised file and enjoy!

File links:

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Tim Sherratt Written by:

I'm a historian and hacker who researches the possibilities and politics of digital cultural collections.


  1. […] harvest comments from Flickr and display them within existing collection interfaces. As before (here and here), Greasemonkey was my tool of choice for hacking finding aids. The plan was to trigger a […]

  2. November 8, 2009

    Thanks for your work on RecordSearch and improving the display.

    I wonder it there’s a hack you would be willing to share?

    Individiual pages in digital copies on RecordSearch have no persistent URL easily available. I suspect the URL is something simplem, and has something to do with the barcode, but I don’t know how to work out what it is.

    I’m particularly interested in World War One service records at the moment.

    Could you help me please?

  3. November 8, 2009

    Hi Bob,

    Yep it’s easy once you know how, the url is just:

    However, the easiest way to get persistent urls for RecordSearch (if you have Firefox) is to install Zotero. My translator for RecordSearch is included with the installation, so all you have to do is click on the document icon that shows up in the location bar and you’ll save the item details – including a persistent url.

    Actually there’s a new version of my translator about to be released which includes all sorts of fancy extras — I’ll blog about it soon. I’m also working on translators for some other archival databases.

  4. Bob Meade
    November 8, 2009

    Thanks Tim. That’ll do the trick.

    I’ll see if I can install Zotero tomorrow.

  5. […] with interfaces without touching any of the underlying code. My rewrite of the way RecordSearch displays digitised files is an example of […]

  6. […] viewers will recall my previous encounters with CoolIris — Archives in 3D and CoolIris enabled scrapbook — but these relied on having the CoolIris plugin installed. […]

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