Monthly Archives: November 2014

Ecartico search API

The CANAAN projects aim being to mashup data in a single research tool, we could have just taken dumps from both datasets to start building from there. However, to make the data more accessible, for both team members and other researches, we started by building an API on the Ecartico database (please note the api is still in development).

With the API we especially want to accomodate  the matching of persons across datasets. Searching for specific persons is possible by name (full name, surname, first name, patronym), gender, birth- and deathdate, gender and birth- and deathplace. The api returns these fields and the Ecartico URI for each person found. Saving the Ecartico URI should give you permanent access to up-to-date biographical data about a person (for now only available as html, but in a next phase as json and rdf as well).

Ecartico already matched a lot of people in its datasets with biographical data elsewhere (most notably in Biografisch Portaal and RKD Artists). Since these URI’s are sometimes even better at identifying people than their actual names (should you search for ‘maas’ or ‘maes’ or ‘masius’?), the api makes it possible to search for URI’s:

To get all persons linked to their RKD counterparts, search for domain:

Persons in the Amsterdam Museum collection

The Amsterdam Museum collection, managed in Adlib collection management software, is made available online through a web-interface and through the Adlib API. As explained on the museum’s open data page the collection is also available throuhg OAI-MHP and as Linked Open Data, but these sources are not kept up-to-date (LOD based on a 2011 dump, OAI-MHP not updated after june 2013) and in the OAI-MHP some information has been lost while mapping fields to their Dublin Core equivalents.

In the web-interface it’s possible to use a persons name as searchterm, but there’s no such thing as a ‘person page’ as meant in ‘Getting Ready – presenting data in a usable way‘. The closest thing to that are the search results on an exact name (get there by searching on an exact name or clicking a persons name in an item details page). In the results it is unclear whether an object is tagged with this person, made by this person or has a different relationship with this person. No further biographical data of the person is shown.

The Adlib API is somewhat more rewarding. The persons database has been made available (see for all available databases and fields) and can be queried in different ways. Information about a single person can easily be retrieved once you know that persons priref (id): Not knowing the priref you can search by name:*.

Regrettably, the api returns just the bare essentials of a person: name, date of birth, date of death and some other fields. The urls that lead to information about a person elsewhere (RKD, mostly) are not returned. More serious: the objects the person is linked to are omitted. The only way to get the linked objects I found so far, is to query the collection database and search for the exact name of the creator:,%20Ed%20van%20der%27 (don’t forget to put quotes around searchstrings containing spaces or comma’s and urlencode the string).

Persons in the Amsterdam Museum collection – a prototype

We made a prototype of the kind of person page envisioned in ‘Getting Ready – presenting data in a usable way‘. The data was extracted from the Adlib API (we retrieved all object records to get the – unique – names of persons mentioned as creator or as subject) and from an xml-export of the persons database the museum sent us by email. For the latter we could have used the Adlib Api to retrieve all persons, but then we wouldn’t have had the urls to information about persons elsewhere. And these urls are important to us, because they can be used as identifiers when names are not unique within or not the same across sources.

In the prototyped application all information about a person is gathered on a single page: biographical data, urls to information about the person elsewhere, objects the person created and objects that were tagged with the person as subject. The person page has its own permanent URL that can serve as URI. In the future information about this person from other sources (Wikipedia, RKD, etc.) could be shown here as well. As could representations of the data in rdf or json.