My Bachelor’s thesis (the specifications)

Update: 28th February 2017

I am about to officially start my Bachelor’s thesis at the Haute école de gestion de Genève (HEG). This blog post is from a document that I have just handed in to my professor. I hope it will give a good outline of this assignment to the IIIF community.

The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) logo

1.     Introduction

This document blog post specifies how the Bachelor’s Thesis entitled ‘The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF[1]): raising awareness of the user benefits for scholarly editions’ will be undertaken.

These specifications define what kind of assignment this Bachelor’s Thesis is (§ 2), the general and specific objectives (§ 3), the resources and methods that will be used (§ 4), and the project’s road map (§ 5). A concise bibliography (§ 6) concludes this document blog post.

2.     Assignment

2.1     Essence

The Bachelor’s Thesis will be split into two parts: the first will give an overview of IIIF, in terms of technology developed by and around the IIIF community and why IIIF implementation can leverage innovative development within memory institutions. The second part will focus on a practical approach exploring how end users can benefit from IIIF-compliant viewers.

For the latter, usability tests will be conducted on Mirador (2017a) and the Universal Viewer (UV 2017), the two interfaces that are most used by IIIF members. Mirador is a multi-image viewing platform where several IIIF manifests can be loaded, compared, and annotated. The Universal Viewer is a configurable and embeddable interface (IIIF 2017a).

There will be a focus on Switzerland for both of these parts, especially on how IIIF can appeal to scientific editions in the humanities in the context of the NIE-INE project (SUC P-2 2016), which is to create a national infrastructure:

‘[…] that meets the specific needs of large and complex edition projects and, in particular, to ensure the electronic publication and long-term availability of research data and results in a central area of national humanities research.’ 

(DHLab 2017)

2.2     Scope

The Bachelor’s Thesis will be primarily done in support of IIIF and available to its members and partners, particularly the developing teams of Mirador and the Universal Viewer. In addition, NIE-INE will be the second target audience.

2.3     Origin

The IIIF initiative started in 2011 in California after an informal gathering of technologists from Stanford University, Oxford University, and the British Library. The IIIF community has agreed on common application programming interfaces (APIs) and has developed an ecosystem of compliant servers and clients. The rationale behind developing APIs was to remove silos that cultural institutions created to deliver images on the Web (Snydman, Sanderson, Cramer 2015).

Since June 2015, IIIF is also a consortium (IIIF-C), and on this day 40 institutions from around the world, mainly libraries and museums, have joined it (IIIF 2017b). The wider IIIF community is growing, with the goal of reaching all kinds of memory institutions and image-driven companies for widespread interoperability in Web-based image delivery (IIIF 2017c). With a view to continuing development and expanding to more institutions, IIIF has organised several events in North America and Europe such as Working Groups Meetings, Outreach Events, and Conferences (IIIF 2017d).

Last October, I took part in the IIIF Working Groups Meeting in The Hague. This three-day session, where I represented the Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), gave me a great insight of what IIIF could offer to organizations and their users. I thought it would be interesting to conduct a usability test on IIIF-compliant Web clients and see how intuitive they are to users. Besides, the three goals of IIIF are intrinsically bound to Web usability:

  • To give scholars an unprecedented level of uniform and rich access to image-based resources hosted around the world.
  • To define a set of common application programming interfaces that support interoperability between image repositories
  • To develop, cultivate and document shared technologies, such as image servers and web clients, that provide a world-class user experience in viewing, comparing, manipulating and annotating images.

(IIIF 2017e)

I drafted a first proposal to IIIF in November 2016 and modified it upon recommendations given by Sheila Rabun, IIIF Community and Communications Officer. My proposal was then accepted by the Haute école de gestion (HEG) and after discussion with Professor Schneider, we thought it would be a good idea to extend the assignment to the scientific community in Switzerland as the NIE-INE project has just started. The thesis is then designed as well to answer this question: How can scholarly editions in Switzerland benefit from using IIIF technology?

2.4     Expectations

Three expectations have been identified for the Bachelor’s Thesis:

  • Giving an overview: Members of the IIIF community have put together a number of different resources, such as slide decks, blogs, and demos, that reveal the advantages of IIIF for both organizations and end users, but the resources are scattered. It would be interesting in creating a comprehensive explanation of how IIIF can benefit both institutions and users. It will also be the first time that IIIF is a Bachelor’s Thesis’ subject.
  • Evaluating two interfaces: the conducted usability tests should focus on specific features that Mirador and the Universal Viewer offer, such as “drag and drop” or the OpenSeaDragon’s “pan and zoom” in order to assess the intuitiveness and overall usability of the two viewers. There will also be an emphasis in terms of learnability and satisfaction, three usability attributes defined by Nielsen (2010, p. 26). The usability tests will be adapted to NIE-INE’s target audience and their technical requirements. Findings and analysis outputs of these usability tests will lead to a set of recommendations for both the developers and the scientific community.
  • Reaching the scientific community in Switzerland: The Bachelor’s Thesis should not only demonstrate that the IIIF ecosystem can play a ‘[…] central role in the dissemination of scholarly information’ (Kiley, Crane 2016), but also that scientific communities like NIE-INE have many shared interests in deploying IIIF-compliant technologies. The benefits of IIIF adoption for the NIE-INE initiative will be explored based on the findings of usability tests with Mirador and the Universal Viewer.

2.5     Constraints

In addition to the general time constraints of this Thesis, there are technological and timing constraints related to the use of software for usability testing, and the status of the NIE-INE community.

2.5.1     Technological aspects

For the Bachelor’s Thesis, two usability tests are scheduled: one will include in-person and synchronous usability test with LIS students at the HEG and a second remote test with a representative sample of users (cf. § 5). Loop11, an online usability test software (Loop11 2017), has been often used in previous Library and Information Science (LIS) Theses and Reports to carry asynchronous tests on Websites and graphic interfaces (Prongué 2012; Schmidt 2013; Meystre, Rey 2014) or for prototype testing (Guzzon 2016). It is highly customizable: the platform is multilingual, tasks, objectives and usability questions can be assigned, sessions can be recorded, and different analysis outputs are available such as heatmaps and clickstreams. Loop11 works really well with static URLs, but it can’t deal with dynamic ones.

Yet, the Mirador’s demo Web page (Mirador 2017b) and most of institutions using this interface don’t provide static URLs.

Three solutions have been considered in order to conduct in-depth usability tests. They are ordered form the least to the most interesting in terms of using Loop11 to its full capacity:

  • A first solution would be to use Loop11 only with in-person tests. These moderated sessions could be completed with the “think-aloud protocol” (Meystre, Rey 2014, p. 20). However, it has been found that doing first in situ usability tests and in a second time remote ones can uncover and fix more usability problems (Meystre, Rey 2014, pp. 44–45).
  • A second solution is to use static URLs from available digital collections, such as the Digital Bodleian which has recently implemented Mirador in addition to the Universal Viewer (Bodleian Digital Library Systems & Services 2017) . Now users have the choice to open IIIF manifests into either of these two interfaces or to use by default OpenSeaDragon. All the URLs are static, but they don’t change when loading other manifests onto Mirador.
  • A third solution would be to create from scratch a sandbox with IIIF developers where URLs are not only static for one manifest, but are capable in creating new ones when multiple manifests are loaded onto Mirador. This sandbox would integrate the two viewers and a research page where samples of IIIF manifests used for the usability tests could be easily retrieved.

Furthermore, in order to carry out usability tests with Loop11, two lines of JavaScript, as shown below, have to be inserted in the footer of every Web page tested.

var loop11_key = "65f3ca3b97f50e417e9a112279dc79c051b6832d";
document.write(unescape("%3cscript src='//' type='text/javascript'%3e%3c/script%3e"));

(Loop11 2016)

IIIF developers and implementers must therefore be warned and asked to insert this JavaScript snippet into all tested Web pages.

2.5.2     The beginning of NIE-INE

Finally, NIE-INE started not long ago and perhaps it will be difficult to gather enough input by the end of the Bachelor’s Thesis. Important information needed from them include:

  • Which scientific editions will be concerned by this project?
  • What types of users will use this infrastructure?
  • What systems do they want to deploy?
  • What IIIF-compliant technologies would they need?

3.     Objectives

Three objectives have been defined as generic (in bold) and are essentially linked to the Bachelor’s Thesis’ expectations explained in § 2.4. Specific objectives (in italic) derived from the three generic and main objectives.

  1. Writing a comprehensive description of the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) for potential new implementers
    • Giving an overview of IIIF with regard to its history, goals, participants and consortium members, defined APIs, and IIIF-compliant software.
    • Scoping the IIIF universe with a view to making IIIF collections more easily discoverable.
    • Outlining the use of IIIF based on a survey and highlighting how various institutions are using IIIF-compliant servers and viewers.
    • Raising awareness of IIIF in Switzerland.
    • Establishing institutional benefits provided by IIIF technology.
  2. Conducting a usability test to show the UX benefits of Mirador and the Universal Viewer in terms of learnability, efficiency, and satisfaction.
    • Reviewing the UX benefits and weaknesses with a canvas that will be used to test the features developed by Mirador and the Universal Viewer.
    • Conducting a pre-test with LIS students and a test with a representative sample of users. Both should be assessed by the IIIF community.
    • Giving a set of recommendations to the IIIF community and implementers using IIIF-compliant viewers based on the usability tests and the literature review
  3. Assessing the interests of deploying and using IIIF-compliant technologies for complex and large scientific communities.
    • Assessing the similarities and differences between memory institutions and the scientific editions community in respect of interests in deploying IIIF-compliant servers and viewers.
    • Contacting the NIE-INE team and raising awareness of the IIIF initiative.

4.     Means and methods

In order to write a comprehensive Bachelor’s Thesis, literature reviews on these subjects will be required:

  • The International Image Interoperability Framework
    • Rationale
    • As a community/consortium
    • Defined APIs
    • IIIF-compliant servers and clients
    • Future steps
    • In Switzerland
  • User-centred design techniques and usability principles[2]
    • Jesse James Garrett’s elements of UX and the duality of the Web (Garrett 2000, 2011)
    • Nielsen’s definition of usability and user interface design (Nielsen 1995, 2010)
    • LIS Bachelor’s and Master’s Theses that have conducted usability tests

In addition, different methods will be combined, mainly to receive insight from the IIIF community, to observe what IIIF implementers are doing through their communication channels, and to explain to the NIE-INE project team the Bachelor’s Thesis’ purpose:

  • The IIIF Community
    • Reaching the IIIF Community through their Slack channel and their Google Group’s IIIF Discuss.
    • Reaching the Universal Viewer implementers through their Slack channel.
    • Contributing to the GitHub’s Awesome IIIF repository
    • Participating in the Community, Software Developers, and Discovery Calls
    • Meeting the Mirador developing team and IIIF enthusiasts in Stanford University.
    • Helping to gather and analyse a survey that scopes the IIIF universe with the IIIF Community and Communications Officer
    • Carrying out a survey to assess the IIIF use in Switzerland
  • The NIE-INE project
    • Establishing contact with the managing team in order to know their target audience
    • Reaching the University of Basel’s Digital Humanities Lab (DHLab) which will oversee the technical part of NIE-INE through the Data and Service Center for the Humanities’ (DaSCH) project.
  • Usability tests
    • Configuring the usability test’s scenario
    • Creating personae
    • Moderated pre-test with LIS students (in-person)
    • Tests with a representative sample of users based on personae (remote or in-person)

5.     Road map

The table 2 below has been designed to give a succinct outline of the assignment. It is divided in four columns: phases, activities or milestones, deliverables, and dates.

Project conception and initiation Reaching out the IIIF community for a collaboration 31 October 2016
Bachelor’s Thesis’ proposal drafted 2 November
Modifying the proposal along with the suggestions and feedbacks received from Sheila Rabun and René Schneider 3 November to 5 December
Final Bachelor’s Thesis’ proposal drafted Word document 8 December
Topic validation 20 December
Signed agreement Paper and PDF 10 January 2017
Project definition and planning Start of the Bachelor’s Thesis Email to Sheila Rabun and René Schneider 11 January
Writing the specifications 12 to 25 January
Validating the objectives with Sheila Rabun 25 to 28 January
Proofreading 28 to 30 January
Informing the IIIF Community Message on Slack and IIIF-Discuss Google Group 31 January
Specifications Word document 1 February
Project execution Visit the Mirador team and IIIF enthusiasts in Stanford University 6 February
Reviewing the literature 21 December to 3 March
Laying down the structure of the thesis Table of content 1 March
Scoping the IIIF universe

IIIF in Switzerland

Surveys 17 February to 3 March
Definition of terms used in the thesis

Reaching out to the NIE-INE people

Creating personae

Assessing what Mirador and the Universal Viewers implementers have done in terms of usability

Hypotheses about potential users problems on IIIF-compliant viewers

6 to 24 March
Defining the usability scenario by setting up tasks, objectives, and questions 27 February to 28 March
Showing the usability test on the IIIF Community Call Video or Share Screen through BlueJeans 29 March
Calling for participants 30 March to 12 April
In-person pre-test with students Loop11’s analysis output 5 April
Assessing the pre-test

Modifying the tasks and questions if needed

6 to 21 April
Remote or in-person usability test Loop11’s analysis output 24 April to 5 May
Assessing the tests

Giving feedback to the NIE-INE project team

Preparing the presentation for the IIIF Vatican Conference

22 May to 2 June
IIIF Vatican Conference Presentation Week of 5-9 June
Project performance and control Self-assessment

Writing the recommendations, and the conclusion

Checking the references

14 June to 7 July
Proofreading 10 to 20 July
Project close Thesis submission Bachelor’s Thesis (electronic or/and printed versions) 21 July
Oral presentation and examination Presentation Week of 24-28 July
Dissemination to the HEG’s Library, and possibly to the Library of Geneva, and the Swiss National Library[3] 1 to 3 printed items August

6.     Bibliography

BODLEIAN DIGITAL LIBRARY SYSTEMS & SERVICES, 2017. Have you noticed our growing set of #IIIF buttons on ? Twitter [online]. 19 January 2017. [Accessed 23 January 2017]. Available from:

DIGITAL HUMANITIES LAB (DHLAB), 2017. NIE — INE. [online]. 16 January 2017. [Accessed 22 January 2017]. Available from:

GARRETT, Jesse James, 2000. The Elements of User Experience: Duality of the Web. [online]. 30 March 2000. [Accessed 2 January 2017]. Available from:

GARRETT, Jesse James, 2011. The elements of user experience: user-centered design for the Web and beyond. 2nd ed. Berkeley, CA: New Riders. Voices that matter. ISBN 978-0-321-68368-7.

GUZZON, Oscar, 2016. Optimisation d’une plateforme web de divulgation scientifique [online]. Bachelor’s Thesis. Geneva, Switzerland: Haute école de gestion de Genève. [Accessed 24 January 2017]. Available from:

INTERNATIONAL IMAGE INTEROPERABILITY FRAMEWORK (IIIF), 2017a. Awesome IIIF. GitHub [online]. 2017. [Accessed 2 January 2017]. Available from:

INTERNATIONAL IMAGE INTEROPERABILITY FRAMEWORK (IIIF), 2017b. IIIF Consortium. International Image Interoperability Framework [online]. 2017. [Accessed 5 January 2017]. Available from:

INTERNATIONAL IMAGE INTEROPERABILITY FRAMEWORK (IIIF), 2017c. International Image Interoperability Framework [online]. 2017. [Accessed 2 January 2017]. Available from:

INTERNATIONAL IMAGE INTEROPERABILITY FRAMEWORK (IIIF), 2017d. IIIF Events. International Image Interoperability Framework [online]. 2017. [Accessed 24 January 2017]. Available from:

INTERNATIONAL IMAGE INTEROPERABILITY FRAMEWORK (IIIF), 2017e. About IIIF. International Image Interoperability Framework [online]. 2017. [Accessed 24 January 2017]. Available from:

KILEY, Robert and CRANE, Tom, 2016. The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) for science publishers. eLife [online]. 16 May 2016. [Accessed 8 November 2016]. Available from:

LOOP11, 2016. The Loop11 JavaScript – Easy as 1, 2, 3! | Loop11. Loop11. Online User Testing Tool [online]. 2 February 2016. [Accessed 23 January 2017]. Available from:

LOOP11, 2017. Loop11. Online User Testing Tool [online]. 2017. [Accessed 6 January 2017]. Available from:

MEYSTRE, Valérie and REY, Raphaël, 2014. Tests d’utilisabilité : comparaison de deux méthodes appliquées au site [online]. Geneva, Switzerland: Haute école de gestion de Genève. [Accessed 2 January 2017]. Available from:

MIRADOR, 2017a. Project Mirador [online]. 2017. [Accessed 2 January 2017]. Available from:

MIRADOR, 2017b. Mirador Viewer. Project Mirador [online]. 2017. [Accessed 23 January 2017]. Available from:

NIELSEN, Jakob, 1995. 10 Heuristics for User Interface Design. Nielsen Norman Group [online]. 1 January 1995. [Accessed 2 January 2017]. Available from:

NIELSEN, Jakob, 2010. Usability engineering. Amsterdam: Kaufmann. ISBN 978-0-12-518406-9.

PRONGUÉ, Nicolas, 2012. Evaluation de l’utilisabilité de RODIN au moyen d’un test utilisateur asynchrone [online]. Bachelor’s Thesis. Geneva, Switzerland: Haute école de gestion de Genève. [Accessed 2 January 2017]. Available from:

SCHMIDT, Eveline, 2013. Remote oder In-person Usability-Test ? [online]. Bachelor’s Thesis. Geneva, Switzerland: Haute école de gestion de Genève. [Accessed 2 January 2017]. Available from:

SNYDMAN, Stuart, SANDERSON, Robert and CRAMER, Tom, 2015. The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF): A community & technology approach for web-based images. In: Archiving Conference [online]. Los Angeles, CA. May 2015. p. 16–21. Available from:

SUC P-2 “SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION: ACCESS, PROCESSING AND SAFEGUARDING,” 2016. NIE-INE (161-004): Nationale Infrastruktur für Editionen – Infrastructure nationale pour les éditions. Swissuniversities [online]. 10 August 2016. [Accessed 3 January 2017]. Available from:

THE UNIVERSAL VIEWER (UV), 2017. Universal Viewer [online]. 2017. [Accessed 2 January 2017]. Available from:



[1] IIIF is pronounced “Triple-Eye-Eff”

[2] This section is a non-exhaustive list that represents primary researches.

[3]Three printed items are disseminated if the Bachelor’s Thesis’ grade is 5 or above. In addition, the electronic version would be available on by the end of 2017. However, if the overall grade is between 4 and 4.9, only one printed copy is kept at the HEG’s Library.