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Mirador and IIIF in Depth

Before learning how to pull in objects from other collections, it helps to know about something called IIIF (pronounced "triple-eye-eff").

The IIIF Standard

Mirador is a IIIF-compatible viewer. IIIF stands for International Image Interoperability Framework, and is an image standard used by the British Library, the University of Toronto Libraries, Harvard Libraries and others. The goals of IIIF, as stated on their website, are:

To give scholars an unprecedented level of uniform and rich access to image-based resources hosted around the world.

To define a set of common application programming interfaces that support interoperability between image repositories.

To develop, cultivate and document shared technologies, such as image servers and web clients, that provide a world-class user experience in viewing, comparing, manipulating and annotating images.


So what do these goals look like in practice?

Using IIIF (Web) APIs

IIIF has two main APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), an Image API and a Presentation API (see here for more info). We'll concentrate on the Presentation API.

Put briefly, web APIs allow programs or computers to exchange information on the internet (for a more comprehensive definition, see this one by Patrick Smyth, Stephen Zweibel, Jonathan Reeve, Mary-Catherine Kinniburgh, and Jojo Karlin).My computer would ask a server for some information (called a "request" or "call") and expect a "response" in a particular format (JSON, or JavaScript Object Notation). Then I can parse the information and do interesting stuff with it.

|For Mirador to be able to read and display an image, it expects a response in the form of an IIIF Manifest ("manifest").


IIIF Manifest

An IIIF Manifest, written in JSON, is a way of structuring information about a digital image or object that an IIIF-compatible viewer, such as Mirador, can understand. To see an example of a manifest, visit this link, which is the manifest for this item. You can also see a manifest for any item by visiting an item view page (Curation > Items > click on an item), clicking on the URL, and adding "/manifest" to the end.

To summarize, Mirador needs the manifest file of a digital object in order to display it properly in the viewer. A manifest's structure is defined in IIIF's Presentation API. Because all the data in a manifest is where Mirador expects it to be, Mirador can render everything elegantly.

But how does this relate to the IIIF's stated objectives earlier? The beauty of IIIF is that any viewer (e.g. Mirador) can interface with any manifest, so long as they both conform to the IIIF standard. This means that I can pull in resources and metadata from different institutions into my Mirador viewer — all with a simple link.

To learn more, go to the next page.

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