Tropy: Software to Organize the Digital Photographs You Take in Your Research

Saturday, January 7, 2017
Grand Concourse (Colorado Convention Center)
Stephen Robertson, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, George Mason University
Tropy is a freely licensed and open-source software tool currently under development by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It will allow researchers to collect and organize the digital photographs they take in their research, associate metadata with those images, and export both photographs and metadata to other platforms. Tropy will also provide a means for researchers to share their images and metadata with the institutions in which they took those photographs.

With Tropy, you will be able to:

  • Import. You will be able to drag and drop one or more JPG images into Tropy. Importing will add the image files to Tropy’s internal data store, generate thumbnails for each of the new images, and add preliminary metadata based on a template.
  • Edit. Tropy provides the core functions needed to ensure that images are adequate for your purposes; it is not intended to be a full-featured image editing software. You will be able to rotate, crop, zoom, and adjust contrast. Each image’s metadata will also be individually editable. Available fields will be supplied by customizable templates: Tropy will include generalized archive templates, based on Dublin Core and EADS; and researchers and archivists will be able to create their own templates, customized to reflect specific collections and archives. A batch-editing mode will allow users to manipulate metadata across multiple images. Tropy will also include an interface for note-taking and transcription.
  • Organize. Images will be organized via collections and/or tags, with items able to appear in multiple collections and under multiple tags. You will have many ways of finding your archival images: browsing image collections and tags via list and thumbnail modes; sorting these views using all available metadata, such as date, source archive, and title; and searching across all available metadata, including notes.
  • Share. All items stored in Tropy will be available for export both locally and to external, web-based services. Exporting a selection of items or a collection from Tropy will generate an archive file that includes image files along with their metadata in machine-readable format. You will also be able to transmit your images and metadata to external services via Tropy plugins. We will create at least three plugins spanning a range of services – Flickr, Omeka and an open-source digital asset management software (DAMS) – as well as documentation that allows users to develop their own plugins.

Although intended first as a tool for researchers, Tropy also offers opportunities for the institutions whose records are being photographed to gain access to images and metadata of their holdings. Institutions could create and share metadata templates populated with descriptions of their collections to help generate standardized metadata. They could also create an API endpoint to allow researchers’ images and metadata to be directly added to a catalog.

The alpha release of the software is schedule for September 2016, with a beta release early in 2017, soon after the AHA Annual Meeting.

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