Features (concise)

Free   Non-commercial   Open Source   Web service   No-code   Flexible   Extensible   Sustainable   CMS

Heurist is a comprehensive, flexible data management service built specifically for the Humanities, available both as a free service, or for download to a private server (open source). Its development has been driven and informed by dozens of Humanities research projects.

Heurist is a human-centered interface to a MySQL (or other SQL server) database. It operates as a hybrid relational / graph database, hiding all the complexity of SQL, tables, relational joins, relational integrity etc. behind (fairly) simple choices. It’s available on a number of non-commercial web services (free to use) and on private web servers. You can also install it on your own server if you wish.

As a result YOU have full control of your information, all the way from design and data collection through analysis and visualization to web publication and archiving.

You can build fully operational complex databases with rich, heterogeneous linked data in a matter of hours to days using just a web browser – no technical support required – and then modify the structure as often as you like  on the live database without affecting existing data.


 Setting up a database

  • Free web services (open to all): heurist.sydney.edu.au, Huma-Num.fr, US server in process
  • Build a complete, fully-functional database and optional CMS website in hours to days
  • All you need is a browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge etc.)
  • Instant database setup without technical knowledge or coding (or the need to get a server)
  • Incremental development: keep on modifying and extending the database structure instantly (add new entity types, new relationships, new attributes, new terms, ordering, relabeling etc.), as needs change without affecting existing data

Structure

  • Pre-loaded vocabularies and semantic URIs: DC, BIBO, BIO, DOAP, FOAF, MUSIC, RDF, SKOS, CC licenses, Country codes, Language and many others
  • Common reusable entity types (Person, Place, Organisation, Event etc.), template structures for specific fields (archaeology, biography, museums etc.) and ability to publish templates for reuse.
  • Rich field types: text, memo (long text/html), hierarchical terms/categories, numeric, date/time (including fuzzy/uncertain), geographic objects, file, remote media (image, sound, video, pdf etc.), constrained record links (foreign keys), relationships, personal and workgroup tags
  • All field types support multi-value with cardinality (optional/required/repetitions) and maintained ordering
  • Define project workgroups, control access, share and publish data selectively

Getting results

  • Build, save and re-use/publish complex search methods, including multi-level facet searches and rule-based expansion, through simple choices in a search wizard
  • Publish a CMS website directly within your database (menus and page content editable directly in the same interface) including embedded images/multimedia, data searches (simple, facetted, rule-based), visualisations (map, timeline, network) and custom reports.
  • Export data selectively to numerous formats: XML, RDF, CSV, KML, (Geo)JSON, GEPHI, RSS, custom. Generate as live feed or batch process. Restful API.

Sustainability, archiving, migration

  • Centrally maintained for medium to long term sustainability (target >10 years – we already have fully-functional databases going back to 2006 and websites to 2009).
  • Centralised maintenance and shared dependency reduces costs and creates support for ongoing maintenance. Past a few dozen databases the marginal cost of additional projects is close to zero (which is why we can offer free services).
  • As long as the Heurist server is maintained, all databases and websites generated from them will continue to work with little (for highly customized) or no (for those using built-in tools) maintenance.
  • Generates fully self-documenting archivable packages for long-term sustainability (text-based metadata and documentation, XML, SQL and original file uploads)
  • Databases can be quickly regenerated on a new server from the archival package.

Heurist currently supports dozens of projects in Australia, New Zealand, Greece, France, Germany, USA, Canada, India, S. America, some for more than a decade (continuously developed since 2005). It is used in archaeology, history, anthropology, literary studies, art history, media studies, cultural studies, music, sociology, museums, DH education, administration; anywhere someone needs to manage rich, heterogeneous information while retaining control and without spending a fortune.

The Heurist team provides well-informed free support to get you started. 20, 30, 40, 50 … linked entity types, 250,000 records? No problem (although it will take you some time to set up that many entity descriptions!). Please don’t hesitate to try it out and/or contact us, even for personal projects.

 

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