FieldHelper provides a uniqe drag-and-tag interface for creating metadata for multimedia files within a framework based on geographic location and time of collection. 

Click link below to download. Requires Adobe AIR runtime (download from 

FieldHelper_2009-09-13.air FieldHelper_2009-09-13.air
Size : 1374.275 Kb
Type : air

Oct 2012: Please note: this version is alpha software whose development was suspended due to ANDS funding of a competing project by  Intersect NSW. We plan to renew development of FieldHelper as soon as practical, since the Intersect project has not delivered even a fraction of the FieldHelper functionality. 

Please email us if you start using the software so we can advise on updates. The current version works well indexing up to 15,000 files on a recent (2012) PC (maybe more, we have not tested). Any assistance with testing and/or development would be much appreciated, please contact  

FieldHelper Vsn 2: A very short guide

Ian Johnson 8th Oct 2010


The idea for FieldHelper developed from two areas of prior work carried out by my team at the Archaeological Computing Laboratory (ACL), University of Sydney:
  1. the management of image collections for archaeology (ArchImage) and GPS/GIS fieldwork data from field survey work, mainly in the Mediterranean;
  2. extensive work over several years on metadata catalogues (Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative metadata clearinghouse) and temporal mapping (the TimeMap project) in collaboration with Artem Osmakov of ALOV Software.
The basic principle of FieldHelper is to index a collection of file-based resources (images, sound, video, transcriptions, field notes etc.), such as those one might find on a fieldworker's computer, and provide an intuitive drag-and-drop interface to the creation of XML metadata, and to allow submission of these data to a repository. There is no intrinsic reason why this should not also be applied to laboratory based and personal research desktop computers - FieldHelper is a generic metadata creation program for file-based multimedia.

The aim of the project was to overcome the hiatus between fieldwork data collection, metadata creation and repository submission, by providing a tool for organising resources on disk as they are created and creating XML-based documentation of those resources suitable for submission to a repository, while hiding the technological complexity from the user.

FieldHelper reads metadata from the files that are indexed, and allows tagging of resources with metadata values through dragging and dropping of files into 'pigeon holes'. The 'pigeon holes' can be imported from a metadata template or created on-the-fly within the interface. Geographic location can be set by dragging resources onto a map (loaded from Google Maps). Metadata can also be edited directly as XML or through a forms-based approach.

Both versions of FieldHelper export metadata as XML packages in METS format. Version 2 also supports updating of EXIF headers with new metadata.

FieldHelper Vsn 0 (Java)

The pilot project (Vsn 0.1 - 0.4) was funded by the Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories (APSR) in 2006 - 2007, developed by Steven Hayes, Kim Jackson and Tom Honmeyman. It received valuable input from the University of Sydney Library and from linguistic and musicological researchers associated with PARADISEC, who needed a means of managing richer fieldwork data (including recordings, transcriptions, video and so forth).

   FieldHelper Vsn 0.4 Pilot  (2007)

FieldHelper Vsn 1 (Java)

A further development from Vsn 0, FieldHelper Vsn 1 extended the capacity of the pilot to handle real world collections through faster indexing and other refinements. The programming work was carried out by Kim Jackson and Tom Murtagh at the ACL in 2007 - 2008.

FieldHelper Vsn 2 (Flex)

Further internally-funded work at the ACL has led to FieldHelper Vsn 2, developed in Flex (Macromedia XML + ActionScript) as a collaboration with Artem Osmakov in 2008 - 2009.

   FieldHelper Vsn 2.1  (Aug 2009)

Version 2 has a significantly more sophisticated interface and a much richer set of functions, including EXIF header extraction and update, GPS track matching, audio annotation, multi-channel timeline functions and configurable user interface with detachable floating windows. Version 2 uses a robust methodology of XML manifests to allow folders to be moved and renamed without loss of data. 

To be fully usable, some further work is needed on the Vsn 2 interface (simplification and more distinctive icons), resolving bugs with Macintosh and Unix platforms (notably non-display of thumbnails), repository output format verification and documentation.

Current status

The NSW eResearch Institute, Intersect, has received funding of $250,000 from the Australian National Data Service to take over development of FieldHelper. Development of version 3 is due to start in 2011. Pending design workshops it's form is as yet unknown, however it is likely that it will be redeveloped using a different programming platform from either previous version.


Key features

Drag and tag

Files in the list panel can be dragged singly or in multiples to ‘boxes’ in the properties panel or to locations on the map to set metadata values or location. The views are coordinated so that all views are highlighted together to show the selection. New categories can be added with right mouse clicks or through the (not very distinctive) icons above the panel.


Text and audio annotation can be added through the Annotation tab:

Tracking views

The different components of the interface are coordinated views, so clicking on an image in the list view navigates the map and timeline to appropriate locations, and vice versa. Where multiple files occupy the same spot on the map, a rose of files is displayed - each petal can be clicked to navigate.

The program uses Google maps and can display different map layers. It can also cache tiles automatically in advance for a specified area so that it can be used offline.


The timeline shows multiple channels (which may be collapsed to one) for each device represented by the collection of files indexed.

As time is navigated through selection of bars on the histogram, images in the browse list or icons on the map, the displays update (a little work is needed to clarify the process where, for example, there is no spatial information for a file). The interface allows the GPS track to be ‘played’ with simultaneous highlight and display of the corresponding images.

GPS matching

FieldHelper Vsn 2 displays and allows adjustment of the time differential between GPS tracklogs and other files, or between devices where the clock is not correctly set. 

Simply click on the offset (default +00.00) displayed on the left of each device timeline to display a time adjustment dialogue:

Full GPS information is also displayed on the map when the GPS track is clicked:

Form-based editing

The metadata for a fiel can be edited directly through a form which is generated on the fly from the metadata categoreis defiend for the current project:

FieldHelper exports to a number of XML/repository formats, with various export options:

Setting up directories

FieldHelper indexes files of known types on one or more fieldwork directories, chosen through the setup dialogue. It extracts metadata from the file headers and stores this, along with metadata you create, in XML manifest files which are local to each directory and subdirectory. This allows the directories to be moved (eg. to a file server or desktop computer) with a file management program without loss of data.


FieldHelper has a wide range of configuration options, some of which are illustrated below:

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