(Faculty of Architecture, RWTH Aachen, Germany)

Keywords: databases, ontology, low cost, flexibility, ease of use

The Aachen Center for Documentation and Conservation (ACDC) and the Faculty of Architecture at RWTH Aachen University were in need of a common infrastructure for collection and display of files and metadata for different research and study projects in architecture and archaeology. Projects include the documentation of heritage sites in Afghanistan (monument documentation, site register) and Pakistan (Mohenjo-Daro and sites in the Sindh province) as well as architectural guides for Aachen or Cameroon.
Therefore media.REIFF was developed, a web-based open source database. Each project can develop its own lightweight ontology. The database stores objects, representing files or metadata, belonging to different classes defining a group of objects. Each object gets a permanent textual identifier (for citation) as an alias to the object ID. Objects can be linked to other objects (with a parent, child or equal relation). Objects can be tagged or associated with properties from hierarchical taxonomies, with geographical or local coordinates, dates and times. Names and descriptions of objects can be added in different languages.
The complexity the researcher needs for her media can be reduced for the people who collect the data: students or sometimes even untrained staff members on-site. Original files will be archived unchanged, thumbnail images in different sizes help browsing through the collections. Existing metadata can be imported or even synchronized. This currently includes external research databases, staff identity management and the study guide of the university.
The data can be displayed in different formats, e. g. as lists, as galleries or on maps. Several export formats are available: CSV for tabular data, ZIP archives of images, PDF export for books, KML-Export for Google Earth and others.