Thursday, December 17, 2009

New URL Pattern at American Numismatic Society

At the ANS, we are currently assigning hierarchical categories to all the objects in the database. You might think this had already been done, but in the pre-web world, when most of our 550,000 records were entered, it wasn't really necessary. If you wanted to find Byzantine Seals or Contorniates, you just went to the right tray and there they were.

In a webbie world, we want users to be able to navigate by well-known numismatic categories in order to access individual records, examination of which can suggest searches that will help one find what one is looking for. Keeping that goal in mind, our categories need to be sensible and recognizable, but do not need to carry an undue interpretive burden. It's OK that a user might question how we've arranged things, so long as we've helped her find what she's looking for.

Some examples:

'--' separates the components of a category.

The URL prefix is . We're trying to make these search-engine friendly. We do intend for these to be stable, but aren't quite making the guarantee that we do about URLs of the form Those should work for as long as the DNS/URL paradigm is around.

Appending "/images" to a URL will show only records with images.

In the future, I expect that extensions such as ".atom", ".json", ".kml" will also have the desired result.

Again, the reason we're doing this is to ease the user experience. See the description of the ANS Roman collection for a preliminary deployment of these links in the real world. We hope it's a convenience that our Italic coins, for example, will be one click away.

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