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IIIF at Cogapp

Our commitment to the International Image Interoperability Framework

We are keen advocates of the International Image Operability Framework (IIIF) and support the community in promoting and using its standards and software ecosystem.

  • Almost a decade of support
  • Hosted over 14 million images
  • Published 500,000 media descriptions

We have implemented IIIF services on over a dozen different sites, and have internal tools and processes to make bulk image hosting as simple as possible.

We ❤️ IIIF, and have been using it to enhance our clients' sites since 2015. During that time we've hosted over 14 million different images and published over 500,000 media descriptions (manifests), for clients as diverse at the Royal Society, the British Library, the National Library and Archives of the UAE and the Qatar National Library. Read on to discover why this is so useful and important to us.

What is IIIF?

IIIF is a means of presenting images and related information on the web. It enables the use of a whole range of tools to explore sets of images, and these sets of images can be drawn from multiple organisations.


IIIF makes sharing and re-use of images and other media incredibly easy for both the institution themselves and the wider public. Users can choose to view high resolution images at any size and crop, including intuitive deep zoom viewing without the need to use any specialist software. This is thanks to IIIF's set of standardised APIs that allow institutions to control exactly how their media assets are published.

We help organisations that have large quantities of these assets to reach the public via the following three core IIIF services:

The Image API

The Image API allows users to request different versions of an image simply by changing some parameters in its web address (URL). For example it is trivial to ask for different sizes of an image, or different cropped regions. This makes it very easy to embed tiled-image viewers that allow users to seamlessly zoom and pan around high resolution images. We have created over a dozen different custom viewers for IIIF images using the excellent OpenSeadragon library, and serve millions of images using open source image servers such as Cantaloupe and IIPImage. The Image API has also allowed us to create more experimental interfaces to image assets such as Slow Looking as well as numerous hack day projects including ArtGIF, the Esper Machine and OpenCCTVDragon.

Screenshot of Cogapp's Slow Looking interface
A screenshot from the slow looking experience. Slow looking lets users experience your images up close.

The Presentation API

The Presentation API allows an institution to group assets and to describe them in a standard machine-readable way, called a manifest. For example a manifest can be used to provide a single description for a digitised manuscript, and to have all the pages grouped together. Providing these descriptions allows you to use fully-featured IIIF viewers that let users quickly navigate to particular images, as well as to compare images side-by-side. As well as generating manifests for hundreds of thousands of catalogue records, we have added the two most popular viewers, Mirador and Universal Viewer, to several sites. We have also used the Presentation API concept of "annotations" to power the viewer and editor for our Storiiies platform.

Storiiies screenshot
A screenshot from the Storiiies application. It shows the front cover of a 600 year old Arabic medical text. There are many stamps and seals on the cover. There is an annotation giving more information on these markings.

The Content Search API

The Content Search API allows users to search all the annotations for the content of a manifest, and optionally jump to an exact region of an image. For example, the Content Search API can be used to search all the transcribed text of a digitised book, and to take a user to the exact printed word after they have selected a search result. We have implemented this API for both the Arabian Gulf Digital Archive and the Qatar Digital Library: allowing it be used not only by viewers such as Mirador and Universal Viewer, but also by our own custom interfaces to the digitised material. The Content Search API also provided the inspiration for the Primary Source Ransom Note Generator hack day project.

Screenshot of searching multilingual content with positional highlighting
Searching multilingual content with positional highlighting on the Arabian Gulf Digital Archives site. The image depicts a scan of archival item on the right with the search text highlighted. On the left is the OCR text for the same item with the search text highlighted here as well.

As well as these obvious uses of the core APIs, there are all sort of innovative and inventive ways to use them, a lot of which are captured in Tristan's Fun With IIIF presentation, which continues to evolve each year.

Title page of the FunWithIIIF talk, 2020
Title slide from the talk FunWithIIIF "deluxe edition" from 2020. The slide shows a collage of many screenshots from all sorts of IIIF-enabled projects.

Find out more

If you'd like to know more about IIIF and how it can help expand access to your image assets, please get in touch.

Alternatively, read more about it on this introduction from the IIIF site. Or see a huge list of resources at awesome-iiif. And here are some of the articles we've written over the years:

Want to learn more about IIIF and how you could take advantage of it?

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