The IIIF Viewer

CLA's digital archive's viewer does not allow for two different documents to be viewed together in the same browser window. The IIIF viewer is powerful because it can allow you to view two or more digital resources from any IIIF compatible digital repository in the same browser window. Since the IIIF viewer is not user, we do not suggest using it in most cases.

IIIF stands for International Image Interoperability Framework. The IIIF viewer is an international standard that is supported by many digital repositories. As long as there is an IIIF manifest for any given resource, regardless of which organization, database, or company hosts the resource, the resource may be viewed in the IIIF viewer. This means that you can compare resources from across multiple repositories in the same window. Or, in the case of transcription within this archive, view the original manuscript and the literal transcription in the same browser window.

Opening a Document in the IIIF Viewer

Beneath the viewer of every digital resource is a link to the IIIF viewer. To the right of the "Viewer" button is a link to the IIIF manifest, which is a piece of JSON code. Clicking on the IIIF "Viewer" button will open the digital resource in a new tab and will load that resource into the IIIF viewer. For this example, we are going to start by opening an original manuscript in the IIIF viewer.

MIT has produced a guide which covers most of the basic features and the menu icons of the IIIF compatible Mirador viewer: Read MIT's Using the IIIF Mirador viewer Guide

Adding content blocks

When you first load a resource into the IIIF viewer, that resource will take up the space of the entire window. In order to compare two digital resources side by side, you must first add a new content block to the viewer. In a later step we will use this new content block to load in the literal transcription.

In the upper left corner of the IIIF Viewer is a symbol which looks like four cubes arranged in a square. Hovering over this icon brings up a menu. Click the "Add Slot Right" option to add a new blank content block to the right of the existing content block. Using any of the other "Add Slot" buttons will similarly add blank viewer blocks in the expected direction.

The new content block will be blank except for a large + icon and the text "Add Item". Clicking the content block will bring up the below menu.

To add a new digital object to the blank content block, we will be using the "Add new object from URL:" option. But first, we must find the URL for our literal transcription.

Finding the IIIF compatible URL for the literal transcription

Return to the browser tab with the original document. In the summary tab, which appears to the left of the viewer, click the title of the literal transcription as it appears below the "View Literal Transcription" field. This will open the literal transcription associated with the original document.

Once you have navigated to the literal transcription, navigate to the "Manifest" button which appears to the right of the IIIF "Viewer" button. Right-click on the "Manifest" button and select "Copy Link" from the browser menu that appears. This is the URL you will use to load the literal transcription into the blank IIIF viewer block.

Loading the Literal Transcription via URL

Navigate back to the original IIIF viewer tab which contains the original document. Right click into the "Add new object from URL" input and paste the manifest link you copied. Click the load button that appears to the right of the input field. After a few short moments, the transcription should appear in the list of objects below the "Add new object from URL" field. Click on the transcription digital object. This will load the transcription into the blank content block. You can now view the original manuscript and the accurately formatted transcription side-by-side in the same browser window.

Looking beyond this example

While we expect that the primary use of the IIIF viewer will be to more easily view literal transcriptions and original documents together, the same methodology above can be used to compare any two documents that appear in our digital archive. Looking beyond our digital archive, you can use this methodology to add any digital object that comes with an IIIF manifest from any IIIF compatible digital repository. IIIF maintains it's own list of IIIF compatible digital repositories.