Key Concepts in Spotlight

There are few key concepts to grasp when using Spotlight. This page will give you a brief explanation of how things work. You will then be directed to a series of links that will explain each concept in more detail. 

Building Pages

Spotlight has been designed so that you can create rich, interactive pages without having to know HTML or computer programming. A page in spotlight is called a "Featured Page." A featured page is made up of content blocks, called Widgets, which you put together much like you would Legos or building blocks. You stack Widgets on top of one another to create rich narratives on the Page

Steps to creating rich narratives in Spotlight:

  1. Contact the Digital Scholarship Unit to set up an Exhibit space and Usernames for you

  2. Wireframe your site. How do you want the story of your exhibit to progress? Great tips for wireframing your site

  3. Decide how you are going to upload your images. Will you batch upload your images or upload them individually?

Upload your images and metadata before building an exhibit

4. Create a Featured Page using the Dashboard

  1. Choose Content Blocks to add to the Featured Page

  2. Publish (or save) the Featured Page

  3. Create a thumbnail to be associated with the Featured Page

  4. Link to the Featured Page 

The Dashboard

If you've ever used a CMS like Wordpress, you will be familiar with the concept of the "Dashboard." The dashboard is the easy-to-use, back-end administrative interface for your exhibit. The dashboard is where you can create, change, or modify things in your exhibit. When you are building your exhibit, you will be spending most of your time in the Dashboard. It's sort of like your home base. 

You can think of the dashboard as having two main zones: The Configuration Zone and The Curation Zone.  

1. The Configuration Zone (Admins)

The configuration zone allows you to configure everything to do with the general appearance of your exhibit. You can change the name of your exhibit, add users, and look at or choose the metadata fields associated with your exhibit. Only users with administrative privileges can see this zone. 

2. The Curation Zone (Admins + Curators)

The curation zone allows you to change information relating to the individual items in your exhibit. You can add items, create browse categories, and most importantly, create pages in your exhibit. Spotlight calls the pages that you create "Featured Pages." 

The Configuration Zone: 

The Curation Zone:

Understanding Why Metadata is Important in Spotlight

The power of Spotlight comes from its use of library-and-archives-generated metadata to automatically create links and other resources within your exhibit. Librarians and archivists are trained to arrange and describe items so they can be found within a given system (be they in a building or a database). There are certain rules that must be followed when describing digital objects so that these objects can be found, preserved, and shared across networks. 

Spotlight allows us to create library-grade metadata for your digital objects. You can think of metadata as description "facets" like "title," "author," etc. Once we create metadata for your items, you will be able to "sift" through all of the objects in your database in an efficient manner. You will be able to create links and other categories for your exhibit using metadata alone. Moreover, this metadata will be preserved, so the work we accomplish with you will help the entire community to benefit from our work. 

In sum, metadata is the fuel that runs the Spotlight engine. 

Understanding How Items are Uploaded in Spotlight

There are three ways of uploading items, depending on what type of item you are uploading. 

1. Batch Ingest of Items (large projects in collaboration with the library)

If you are working on a larger project and have digitized many images, we will have most likely sat down to create a digitization plan that includes directions on naming and preparing the file for metadata creation. If this is the case, we will most likely "batch ingest" all of your images and accompanying metadata at once into our repository. Once this process is complete, all of the digital objects (images & metadata) will be ready for you to use automatically. 

2. Uploading Items Using the Dashboard: Uploading One File at a Time 

If you have a small exhibit, you may have been asked to upload your own images into the repository. In this case, you will upload your items from the Dashboard and add your metadata once you've uploaded an image. 

3. Uploading an Image for a Thumbnail or a simple illustration on a page (no metadata associated with image) 

Sometimes you will want to upload an image that does not need to have associated metadata. For example, when you create a link to a "Featured Page," you will be given a blank square in which you can 1. use an image from the repository, or, 2. upload your own thumbnail image. 

For example, the squares below show a link to the "Curation" Featured Page. The image on the left shows the standard, default featured link that does not have a thumbnial associated with it. The image on the right is what featured links look like when a thumbnail image has been uploaded and associated with a link. 

If you upload a thumbnail image, it will NOT be saved in the repository; rather, it will be preserved in a separate Spotlight database. It is best practice to use images from your exhibit's data for these types of links (but it is not required). 

You may also upload images directly into your exhibit when you are building pages. But do note, if you upload an image from the content-block builder and NOT the dashboard, your image will NOT be saved in the repository. If you want to maintain your images over the long term and apply metadata to those images, you will need to use the uploader under the Items link on the Dashboard

IMPORTANT: Images that are not "batch uploaded" or uploaded from the "Items" on the Dashboard should only be used for images that do not need associated metadata. 

Understanding the Users' Menu

You add users to your exhibit. These are people who will be given privileges to modify the exhibit. Please consult with the Digital Commons to determine the appropriate level of access for a given users. 

Understanding how Links Work in Spotlight

Because of the robust metadata capabilities of Spotlight, all major links within the exhibit will be created by saving "Search" [Browse] queries. This is a hard concept to get used to in the Spotlight universe, but once you do, the system becomes very powerful. 

Rather than creating flat links to stable pages in a directory, you will create "queries" that will mimic the capabilities of a normal URL. This allows Spotlight to automatically update the exhibit should any new information be added in the future. In short, Spotlight is a dynamic system that has been built so we only have to do major work once: after that, the system will update itself when we add new information. 

This process may seem limiting at first, but once you get used to it, it will save you hours of labour in the future.