This document is maintained out of historical interest. 
Please go to Current Version tab to download Version 2.

Using Field Helper Vsn 0.4

Steven Hayes 7th Nov 2007

Field Helper was developed with APSR funding by Steven Hayes, Tom Honeyman and Kim Jackson all from Sydney University. The application is based on an original idea by Ian Johnson and considerable input has been received from Linda Barwick and Tom Murtagh. Please direct any questions or comments to Steven Hayes (0293513142 - )

This document was written by Steven Hayes as a DocBook 4.4 document within Oxygen 9.0 and transformed with the standard DocBook stylesheets. The untransformed XML is available here.

What is Field Helper?

Field Helper is a desktop application that enables you to quickly view and categorise groups of related digital files and then submit the resulting package to a repository for long term preservation and access. Digital repositories require a submission to be formated in a specific way and be described according to a standard meta data encoding schema. Working with Field Helper results in a ZIP file containing compressed versions of your files along with a METS (Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard) file which contains a detailed description of each file and its relationship to other files in the submission. METS is a standard that works with most repositories and - where required - can be easily translated into a form that non METS compliant repositories can work with.

Getting started

Downloading and installing

There is no install process for Field Helper, however Java 1.4 or later must be installed before the application will run. Once this is done simply unzip the package to a new directory on your computer.

Download the Windows version of Field Helper covered by this document by clicking here. Start Filed Helper by double clicking on the file called fieldhelper.bat in the directory where you installed the application.

Download the Mac version of Field Helper covered by the document by clicking here.

Creating a project

Field Helper stores your collections as projects. When you start Field Helper you'll be asked if you want to create a new project or open one of your existing projects. Choosing to create a new project presents you with the following form:

Supply a unique project name - you will be told if a project with the name supplied already exists and you will not be able to continue until you supply another name.

Click the add button to browse the folders on your computer. Add as many folders as you like. You can remove folders at any time by selecting the folder and clicking the remove button.

The Fieldwork start and end dates will be automatically deduced from the creation date of the first and last file found in the folders supplied for the project. You can override this by changing either date.

When you are ready click the finish button. The application will now scan all the folders you have nominated and will harvest basic metadata (creation time, file name, mime type) . Note that at any time you can return to this form and make modifications to all but the project name by selecting project > properties from the menu.

Navigating around

The following illustration names the various parts of the application. Each part is explained in detail below.

  1. Timeline

    Represents the time span of your project. In this example data was only gathered on four days. The height of the bar represents the density of data gathered on a particular day. Dotted lines, if they appear, show the start and end of the actually field work period.

  2. Time selector

    You can click and drag this highlighted area around the timeline. The dates within the time selector are shown in detail in the calendar view in the source pane.

  3. Source pane

    This right hand area shows your files arranged in a calendar format. Most of the time you will be selecting files from the source pane and dragging them to regions in the target pane.

  4. Target pane

    This right hand area displays the properties your files have been assigned. This pane shows not only coloured property value regions but also geographical maps by way of an inbuilt connection to GoogleMaps.

  5. Filter control

    Displays and controls how your data is filtered. To apply a filter right click on a property value in the target pane and select "filter on this value". You chan show the relevant files in the source panehighlighted in bold in amongst all other values or you can hide all the non relevant files by clicking the "show filtered only" button.

  6. Time control

    The time control allows you to scroll the calendar view forward and backward in time by clicking the left and right arrows. The time selector on the timeline will reflect these movements. The plus and minus buttons increase or decrease the period of time shown in the calendar view. The maximum viewable range is 7 days and the minimum is 1 second. As you click the plus button the display range will step from 7 days to 1 day and then to three six hour periods and so on. Note that time selector does not display less than a day so it can be difficult to find files without scrolling when less than a day is displayed in the calendar view. This limitation will be removed in future releases.

  7. Calendar view

    The calendar view displays the files in your project based on their creation date and time. Files are shown with an icon denoting their MIME type (see key to icons). Next shown is a number which is unique in the context of a project and is based on the order the files were scanned in. Finally, the file name is shown. Right clicking on the file item provides access to a form based metadata editor for the file and a function that will allow the file to be opened for viewing using the default handling application configured on your machine for files of this type.

    You can select files from the calendar view and drag them to regions in the target pane. This process applies metadata to the file and is referred to as "drag'n'tag". Note that the current version of Field Helper supports the use of the CTRL key (and Mac equivalent) to select multiple files but does not support SHIFT and marque selecting. This limitation will be removed in future releases.

  8. Item preview

    To aid identification of files a preview function is provided under the calendar view. This function can be toggled on and off by clicking the icon in the top right hand corner of the pane.

  9. Property tab

    Field Helper allows you to quickly define sets of metadata properties that your files may exhibit. To assign a file to a property you simply select it and drag it onto the property value. Each set of property values is contained within a named property tab. This example shows one property - namely mods:typeOfResource. A property tab may contain zero or more property values which are represented by coloured regions as described below.

    You can add new property values at any time by right clicking on the grey area to the right of the property tabs. When you do this you will see and option to add a new property or add an existing property. All the properties you define are available via the second option from all projects. This provides you with the ability to build up a useful properties library over time. Future versions of Field Helper will allow these libraries to be shared with other users.

    The properties tab can also contain a GoogleMap. The current version of Field Helper does not support drag and drop to the map, instead users of this function must first click the file item and then click the relevant location on the map. Performing this operation adds a mods based location attribute to the metadata for file. More detail on the GoogleMaps function and other specialised properties is provided later in this document.

  10. Property values

    When you drop a file on a property value that value is added to the metadata of the file. For example, dropping IMG_6939.JPG (shown in the example)onto the "still image" property value (the purple box on the right) assigns a value of "still image" to the "mods:typeOfResource" property for the file. Files can be removed from property values by right clicking and selecting "remove". To aid in the visual synchronisation of source and target panes, clicking on a file in one pane highlights it in the other pane.

    Note that the property value display is sensitive to the overall time context of the application. This means that only tagged files with a creation date within the bounds of the current calendar display will be shown.

Working with properties

Properties are at the core of Field Helper so it is important to read and understand this section if you want to do anything remotely clever with the application.

Adding a new property

Before describing how to add a properties it is necessary to have some understanding of what Field Helper does with the metadata created by dragging fields onto property values.

The end result of using Field Helper is a submission package in the form of a ZIP archive which contains compressed versions of all the files in a given project along with a mets.xml file. The idea is that once you have created this file you send it off to your repository of choice and they deal with the rest. The file contains all descriptive, administrative and structural metadata about your project and it is encoded according to the METS standard. The standard is maintained by the Library of Congress for the purpose of describing and transmitting complex objects between digital libraries. The standard is increasingly being adopted by digital repositories and various translators are available for those repositories that don't yet support METS. METS is a complex format and it is beyond the scope of this document to describe it in any detail however, METS allows users to embed various other metadata structures within an overall package and this is what Field Helper does - primarily, though not exclusively using MODS.

MODS specifies some 20 elements such as location, classification and language. Unlike older metadata standards like Dublin Core, some elements in MODS have sub elements and can become quite complex. The following XML snippet shows an example of encoding the performer of a musical recording.

While the Field Helper model is based on simplicity users create property/value configurations in the target pane that allow this kind of metadata structure to be handled with a simple drag'n'tag operation.

Create the property: Right click on the space to the right of the existing property tabs and select the add new property option and the Enumeration sub option
Create the property: Give the property and name that makes sense to you - perhaps in this case Name and role.
Create the property: In the METS XML Element box type name. Note that in the current version you cannot add an XML attribute at this point so you will have to ignore the type="corporate" attribute in the example above. This limitation will be removed in future versions.

Create the property value: You should now see a new property tab called name and it should have been automatically selected. You'll need to right click in the yellow area below the tab and select add value.
Once again provide a name that is meaningful to you in the value box. In the METS XML Content area type the entire XML snippet from namePart to the closing role tag.

You should now see a new property value named Roustabouts - performers and if you drag a file onto the area then export to a METS file (explained later in this document) the resulting METS document will contain a MODS section with a set of nested elements encoded exactly as shown in the XML snippet at the beginning of this section.

Adding your own user defined properties

If you read the explaination above of how Field Helper works with METS and MODS you may be thinking "what if I want to tag my files with properties not defined in MODS?". Well this is actually pretty simple and involves following exactly the same procedure as outlined above but omiting the METS XML Element value in the Add Property step and omiting the METS XML Content value in the Add Value step.

The METS standard allows you to include several different metadata sections based around different encoding standards. In actuall fact the sections don't even have to follow a standard and so any properties that are defined by you that are not accompanied by a specific XML Element definiton get stored in a fairly free form Field Helper section. When you submit a METS package to a repository the Field Helper section may be stripped out but there is no particular reason why this should be so. If in doubt contact the user support section where the repository is housed.

Working with maps

You can use Field Helper to create geographic metadata for your files. GoogleMaps access is built into Feild Helper and there are a number of ways the publically available mapping tool can be used to add geographic metadata to your files. The first step however is to create a map property.

Adding a new map property

From the menu select Add new property and then select map from the sub menu.

  1. As when you create other property types, right click on the blank area to the right of the property tabs in the target pane.

  2. You'll see something like this

  3. Provide a map name that is meaningful to you. This wont be used in any output but will appear as the name of the tab.

  4. For the moment dont worry about the other fields but increase the size of the window and then zoom and pan the map to the general area where your files were creates.

    The resulting map property should look something like this

  5. To place an file from the source pane on the map first select the file then click on the position on the map you wish it to appear. Note that the current version of Field Helper does not allow you to drag and drop onto a GoogleMap. We hope to rectify this in future versions.

More sophisticated map functions

Creating regions on the map

You can draw your own polygons on the map and assign values and instructions on how to build these values into the resulting

Automated geocoding from GPX files

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