About Ibali

Ibali is the University of Cape Town platform for showcasing collections with a wide variety of media and interrelated content.   Technically, it runs on a combination of two systems called Omeka S and IIIF. In contrast to most other web-CMS, Ibali ensures that all items on the platform are well organised and accessible, while also allowing for a customisable user experience through the creation of narratives using digital media.

Omeka S

Omeka S is a web publishing platform for GLAMs (Galleries | Libraries | Archives | Museums), designed to create relationships between objects in collections as well as describe them through linked open data resources.  The ‘S’ in Omeka S stands for ‘semantic’, as in connecting to the semantic web, where data in web pages is structured and tagged. Its primary focus is on organising elements of a collection so that the links in between items and the greater elements of the internet are strengthened, allowing for much more relevant searches and deeper explorations. 

Technical Information:

The testing environment for Omeka-S has been functioning for over a year (set up by ICTS), with several demo collections being developed. Together with collection development, there are several concurrent process to ensure full functionality: 

  1. installation of additional modules to enhance user experience 
  2. application of standardised UCT branding while allowing users some customization 
  3. establishment of good university metadata practices to ensure a level of uniformity 
  4. development of training material for users (eg Quick Guide)
  5. integration with IIIF server (see below) 


DLS and ICTS have installed an IIIF server which will deliver digital media files in a standards-led, structured manner. The server enables deep-zoom, side-by-side comparison, crowdsourced annotation, in-line metadata display and bookmarking. IIIF server metadata standards are being adopted by GLAM institutions worldwide to foster interoperability, as users can query media and associated metadata in a standardised way. While the media will be made accessible via Omeka-S, the existence of the IIIF server will foster future scalability and discovery of media from different entry points worldwide. 

The International Image interoperability Framework is a growing community of the world’s leading research libraries and image repositories, which have embarked on an effort to collaboratively produce an interoperable technology and community framework for image delivery.

They have the following goals:

Source: About IIIF 

Technical Information:

The IIIF  server consists of two parts, an Image API which deals with the presentation of images online in standardised manner (with the option of deep zoom), and a Presentation API which carries the integral metadata of the image (name, source, rights, etc). The use of these two API allows for images to be served all over the Internet without being able to be separated from their metadata.