Viewing experiences

Our approaches to viewing, reading, hearing and exploring digitised objects. A viewer can be different things for different objects and different audiences.

What's a viewer?

A viewer can be anything from an image tag to a complex multi-featured application like the Universal Viewer. Some use cases benefit from the years of development encapsulated in an existing viewer, others require novel or experimental techniques or a minimalist approach.

The Universal Viewer

Digirati have been working on the Universal Viewer (UV) since 2011 when we started a project with the Wellcome Library to build a Player for Digital Library content - books, manuscripts, audio, video, PDFs, archives.

This then became the British Library's Universal Viewer, with support for IIIF.

We continue to develop the UV in project work for the British Library and National Library of Wales and support the wider UV community through the Open Collective.

Viewers for every occasion

We make many different types of viewer, depending on the nature of the content or the intended user experience.

Some user experiences require very lightweight, feature-free viewers. We often use our Canvas Panel component as a base for new viewers.

The Galway Viewer

This viewer is designed to showcase an archival item that serves as an anchor or jumping-off point to other items in the collection. It was developed to display the memoir of Michael M. O'Shaughnessy, from his childhood in Ireland through his career as chief engineer for the city of San Francisco. The navigation is rendered as an expanding timeline, rather than as a more conventional tree. The pages of the memoir have hyperlinks, directly as part of the text, to related items in the collection. Both of these features are pure-IIIF, there is no bespoke model in use to make this work, just a bespoke viewing experience for that model.

A page with hyperlinks in the Galway Viewer

Visit the Galway Viewer at National University of Ireland, Galway

The Chronicle 250 Viewer

Built for the Paul Mellon Centre, this lightweight viewer is designed to pop in and out of the page cleanly, and provide hyperlinks for artist names in the text of the digitised images, allowing navigation in and out of the archival objects.

Read more about Chronicle 250

Storytelling viewers

Sometimes a viewer is nothing like a book-reader. These three viewers are all driven from the same data (a IIIF Manifest with annotations) but result in very different user experiences:

A multi-image narrative can be rendered as a slideshow:

And sometimes a viewer isn't a viewer at all

Writing about Viewers

Explore these longer articles about viewing experiences for Digital Objects