linked data for attachments

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    Hi Specify team,

    Rather than spinning up an additional silo for which to discover data (as servers are increasingly virtualized and costly) it would be great to be able to link to attachments in Specify. Rather than rely solely on a Specify specific web-attachment server, it would be great to have the flexibility to provide persistent URLs to attachment objects, rather than point to a file location on a Specify file server. I’d bet that a number of institutions already have a server for this or that that hosts much of their own data, but this could even open up the possibility of hosting attachments that aren’t necessarily “owned” by the Specify-hosted institution.

    Increasingly as publications are open and readily accessible on publisher’s webpages, it could enable broader linkage to “external” objects without compromising intellectual property protections, copyright infringement, or security. Managing permissions for attachments that are then linked becomes the responsibility of the content provider that is linked-to



    I think there are two somewhat separate issues here. First, completely replacing the Specify attachment server with an independent digital asset management solution. And second, capabilities within Specify for linking or attaching to resources that are altogether external to Specify.

    The second issue is simpler since the sorts of external resources one might want to link to are so heterogeneous that you really can’t do much more than store a URL. Currently, Specify does have a WebLink form element that can be associated with fields in the database. It allows basic linking out to resources. It can also build URLs based on other types of field data. For example, you could store an id number and configure the button to substitute that value into a URL. It seems like this is pretty close to what you are suggesting. Are there specific capabilities that we could add there?




    I’m certainly not advocating for Specify to incorporate an entirely new DAMS architecture…that would be monumentally out of scope for you all! However, for institutions that already have a digital asset management system in place, it would be quite convenient to be able to link Specify directly to those items maintained via the DAMS server, rather than via an intermediary web attachment server.

    My request would be mostly to configure the attachment interface in Specify such that http:// URLs could be provided in the attachment service, rather than relative file positions within a separate file server that would be dedicated for Specify attachments.

    If such a service (or button customization using XML, as you indicate here) does exist, links to documentation on XML customization would be incredibly beneficial to be discoverable. (I’ve heard of these elusive features from a few people at Specify, but am putting it in the Forum at Jim Beach’s request in order for public users to also find similar content and solutions).



    Theresa is going to email you with some information about how to add the weblink button to the forms. I think the issue might be that the documentation for this exists as a Word doc or something, so it is not ideal for putting online.

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