Prime exemplars of Heurist’s role in a range of publicly-available sites are described below.

Dictionary of Sydney

Heurist is used to manage content for the Dictionary of Sydney, a unique city historical encyclopaedia based on a permanent historical digital repository, that aims to gather resources on every aspect of human habitation in the greater Sydney area from the first arrival of people to the present. The Dictionary website is also a forum for public discussion and controversy, an aide to teaching and learning, and a source of information and entertainment.

Heurist’s Role

Heurist was developed in parallel with the Dictionary, which was released using Heurist version 2 and a complex XSL transform methodology in 2009. The Dictionary was upgraded to Heurist Version 3 in 2013, along with a streamlined web publishing system. Dictionary content is also published to XML for harvesting by the HuNI (Humanities Networked Infrastructure) Virtual Laboratory and TROVE.

The dictionary contains around 14,000 entities in a dozen entity types, 750 entries totalling around a million words, and 3,500 multimedia (2013 figures), which are linked through 75,000 relationships, annotations and events.

Digital Harlem

The Digital Harlem website presents information, drawn from legal records, newspapers and other archival and published sources, about everyday life in New York City’s Harlem neighbourhood (primarily arrests and related court records) in the years 1915–1930 (Black Metropolis’ ARC project). The database is being extended with a specific study of the events of 1935 (‘Year of the Riot’ ARC project).

Winner of the American Historical Association’s 2010  Roy Rosenzweig Prize for Innovation in Digital History, and the the American Library Association’s 2010 ABC-CLIO Online History Award.

Heurist’s Role

This has a Public web interface powered by a Heurist backend interface.

Beyond 1914

The Beyond 1914 website provides an interactive biographical database of students, staff and alumni who served in the First World War, based on the extensive archives and personal papers of the University of Sydney and its Colleges. A large part of this information was provided to the University between 1915 and 1938 by more than 2000 former staff, students, graduates and their families (later published in the University’s Book of Remembrance).

The Beyond 1914 online database was developed by David Jessup, Gregory Poole and Nick Evans from the University of Sydney’s Marketing department, and was launched in September 2014.

The original project for the University of Sydney has now been expanded to six campuses as ARC-funded ExpertNation databases for research into life histories, as well as the production of websites for each participating university. 

Heurist’s Role

Website: approx. 6 person-months; database: < 2 months.

The database underpinning Beyond 1914 is a Heurist database which provides the back-end infrastructure for data management and biographical research. The Beyond 1914 site provides the public interface to the information in the Heurist database.

The Heurist team populated the Heurist database with more than 10,000 life events extracted from the Book of Remembrance text. These events were linked to the individuals concerned, educational institutions and geographical locations to allow the creation of personal lifelines and broader timelines and maps. About 27,000 scanned photographs and documents, held in the University Archives, were also loaded and linked to individuals.

The highly customised website was built as a separate application which harvests the Heurist database nightly from an XML feed; the Heurist XML feed is converted via Doctrine to a NoSQL database which drives the website.

The Heurist database will form an ongoing resource for the collection of further information, with plans to eventually allow direct public input, with editorial control, and public access to the wider range of analytical possibilities available through Heurist.

Gallipoli The First Day

Gallipoli The First Day is the award winning ABC 3D documentary site about the WW1 ANZAC landing at Gallipoli, on 25 April 1915.

Heurist’s Role

Heurist provides the back-end for the Gallipoli The First Day site. Events are stored in Heurist and generated as XML for input to the 3D visualisation.

Baili Paintings

Extensive research inventory of 20th C Balinese paintings from many artists across multiple collections, available via a public website: Virtual Museum of Balinese Paintings.


Heurist’s Role

The original website was generated as a static site with custom XSL stylesheets. The new website is now generated live with Heurist custom reports, entirely developed by project research assistant.

Medieval Cookbook

The Medieval Cookbook database was developed entirely by Catalina Macias, a Colombian student doing a European Masters in Alimentation History.

One of her fellow students, Lina Cuellar Wills, is now using Heurist to build a directory of 19th century South American Guias de Forasteros (Foreigners Guides).

Heurist’s Role

Starting from a simple database structure (Menus containing Recipes containing Ingredients) prepared by the Heurist team, and with a couple of follow-up assistance emails, the entire project took us less than three hours, and was used in a successfully completed thesis.

Roehampton Campus Project

The Roehampton Campus Project (HSA020N265Y) database was set-up to help the collage’s students explore the campus, using its buildings, art works, landscape features, religious sites, and archival and image collections to research its architectural history, classical allusions and religious links.

(See also Testimonials.)

Heurist’s Role

The results of the project were stored within a Heurist database linked to a Zotero library. To make the information available to the University staff and the public via a web site, the Department secured the assistance of the Heurist Team.

The Heurist Team set up a server for the website and installed WordPress on this. The choice of WordPress was based on the fact that it is a free, publicly available platform for creating websites, and provides a wealth of tools and plugins for customizing the site. They then set up the website, structured its layout, added the main text and graphics and added the scripts to populate the site pages. All this was done within three days.

The Roehamption campus data is stored in nine topic pages, which are linked from the site’s front page. To each topic, the Heurist Team added three short scripts, quickly generated from within Heurist, as shown below:

Script One: Show map details

<code><iframe src="
showMapS.html?ver=1&amp; w=all&amp;stype=&amp;
records&amp;q=f:196:5222  sortby:rt owner:1"
width="800" height="650" frameborder="0"></iframe> </code>

This script creates an interactive map and timeline based on the data in the topic records.

Script Two: Present a Search option

<a href="
 w=all&amp;ver=1 &amp;q=f:196:5222 sortby:rt owner:1
 Campus_Project" target="_blank">Heurist database search</a>

This script presents a search query that opens the results within the database, allowing the user to search the database directly.

Script Three: Display the results

<script type="text/javascript" src="
Roehampton_Campus_Project&q=f:196:5222 sortby:rt
owner:1 &publish=1&debug=0&template=Topic_Page.
tpl&mode=js"></script><noscript> <iframe width="80%"
height="70%" frameborder="0" src="http://209.141.40.
stype=&#038;db=Roehampton_Campus_Project &#038;q=f:196:5222
sortby:rtowner:1 &#038;publish=1&#038;debug=0&#038;
template=Topic_Page.tpl"> </iframe> </noscript>

This (Smarty) script pulls in the topic report data and maps from the underlying Heurist database.