App request for phone with these features

Hi, I was wondering if you would consider developing a phone/tablet app to interface with Tropy. It would have two basic functions:

  1. It would take photos in groups, with the first photo being the one with the metadata (title page of a manuscript; box photo or whatever) and then the following ones that belong to that group. This could then be imported into Tropy as one file and exported as a merged PDF. There would be a button for the next set of photos, which could ask if the same meta data is being used (e.g. if it is in the same archival box or same journal) as the previous file.

  2. The phone app could also become a “shopping list”. That is, one can download manuscript, book, or journal citations by photo or by .csv file (that one has already created previously) or grab from something like worldcat on the fly, and then one can quickly and efficiently go to the different sections of the library/archives to find the material. Each entry would allow a group photos (see #1) and a couple of buttons that say something like “manuscript not present at library” or “skimmed and not relevant”.

We’ve entertained the idea in the past of a companion app for taking pictures in archives, but have not discussed it in great detail yet. Those are good ideas, thanks!

Thanks. The biggest issue that I encounter is trying to sort the photo scans after. If you don’t have a system that automatically tells you when you have collated the 7 pages for one book excerpt, you have to manually read all your photos to know where the start and end is for each document or box. By having an automatic grouping system in the app, you don’t have to worry about that, and can just quickly take your photos knowing that they are going to be separated from the get-go.

There is an expensive system I have been tempted to use because I don’t know of the alternatives - and a clunky one - where you can print out a label or page of paper with a barcode. Every time you do a batch of scanning with a new barcode, it knows it is a new document. That is awkward and ridiculous in a digital age, but I really would like a simple digital solution as proposed.

Likewise, being able to snap a photo of a citation and use it for your metadata photo of a group when you get to it on your list of a group to scan makes it really easy to properly manually input data. E.g. If I snap a photo or screenshot of my library retrieval request card or entry in worldcat or a picture of a bibliographical entry of a certain archival material or article, then when it is used as the first photo of a group, I can then easily put in the metadata details into Tropy or other databases.

Hi, together with colleagues, Ben Jackson and Tim Hitchcock, from Sussex Humanities Lab, we have developed an archival phone app (as yet for Android but an iOS version is on the way). This app embeds the repository [ARCHON] code and archival ref in the image metadata. It’s free and avaiable on Google Play - search for ‘Capturing the Past’ or cPast. It would only take a small amount of work to make a translator which would auto-fill the relevant fields in Tropy when images were transferred. Code will be posted on GitHub when were done. Feel free to contact me if you would like more info.


This sounds great, thanks!

How is the metadata embedded in the images?

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In the image file name. Additional notes can be downloaded from the app as a CSV file ( this would also include the file name).

This is timely as we’re just working to extend the CSV export plugin to also support importing. Could you post a sample of a CSV file?

We have not finalized this yet, but it is very likely that the metadata import will require a specific CSV header, so to make this work with the plugin I imagine the CSV header would have to be adjusted. However, once the plugin is ready, it would be easy to fork it and turn it into a dedicated cPast plugin.

The forum won’t support a CSV file but here’s a screen shot with some sample data. let me know if you need more.

This looks fantastic and I’ll be downloading onto my android. Can’t wait to see it on iphone as well.

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Thanks, this looks great. Like I said, we’re still finalizing the CSV import plugin, but I assume that you’d be able to import this via the plugin by adjusting the header: basically, you’d have to use ids of a well-defined vocabulary, e.g., "" instead of "Date" and "" (or “identifier”) instead of "Cat Ref". Filenames and notes will be mapped to properties in the Tropy vocabulary for the generic plugin. But as I’ve mentioned, it would be trivial to copy the plugin and publish a version that simply converts the header used by cPast.

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Thanks. I suppose my main concern would be, how could the CSV file be easily linked to the relevant [associated] images, so that specific notes and archival names/references appeared in Tropy? I really want this to work for those with little or no technical knowledge.

The generic CSV plugin will assume that the photos are given as either absolute paths or as paths relative to the CSV file (alternatively the path can also be valid URL). In this case, the filename would be interpreted as a relative path, so importing this would require that you place the CSV file in the same folder as the images and then import them.

Note that this isn’t specific to CSV but how Tropy resolves paths when importing JSON data in general.

“Date”, “Cat Ref”, “Filename”, “Note”
“2 Feb 2022, 00:30:19”,“GBMUM_PAR378_577_443_235_6_5”,“cpast_20220202_003019_GBMUM_PAR378_577_443_235_6_5.jpg”,“Optional single line note, unlimited number of characters”
“2 Feb 2022, 00:31:27”,“GBMUM_PAR378_577_443_235_6_6”,“cpast_20220202_003127_GBMUM_PAR378_577_443_235_6_6.jpg”,“Hello "
“2 Feb 2022, 18:04:55”,“GB0023_PAR378_664_7_1_3”,“cpast_20220202_180455_GB0023_PAR378_664_7_1_3.jpg”,”"
#Lines starting with # are comment/ignored

A more complete view of our CSV output file.