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9. What are the key characteristics that differentiate your CMS?

DaRWIN is now the result of years of developments with many different users. The first version of DaRWN was not so user friendly and the developers spent a lot of time to improve the DaRWIN system which is now a very good CMS for the Natural History collections.

The initial idea was to create a mega system allowing us to manage any kind of data and metadata. The existing data model was therefore established to manage many different types of data (specimens, collections, taxonomy, storage, sampling, etc). Nevertheless, it was not possible to follow all the developments and requirements with a limited developer team.

The naturalheritage project allowed us to change the approach and to connect the DaRWIN CMS to external Open Source tools / applications using webservices, API and Iframes.

The user DaRWIN experience can therefore be improved using external tools (IIIF image server, bibliographic reference, 3D files, maps, …) without intensive developments of the core of DaRWIN. This allows to extend the DaRWIN system with external tools which can also be different from one institution to another one (e.g. Open Access repository, Image server, etc…). The results of the naturalheritage project related to the DaRWIN CMS are available on the naturalheritage portal:


And the associated annexes :

annex 1 - BBR/175/A3 NaturalHeritage: The DaRWIN Collection Management SystemTheeten F., (RBINS/RMCA), Herpers J.-M. (RMCA), Van den Spiegel D. (RMCA) & Semal P. (RBINS)

annex 2 - BBR/175/A3 NaturalHeritage: The Label module of the DaRWIN Collection Management SystemTheeten F., (RBINS/RMCA), Herpers J.-M. (RMCA), Adam M., (RBINS) & Semal P. (RBINS)

annex 3 - BBR/175/A3 NaturalHeritage: The Loans module of the DaRWIN Collection Management SystemHerpers J.-M. (RMCA) & Semal P. (RBINS)

annex 4 - BBR/175/A3 NaturalHeritage: The Import module of the DaRWIN Collection Management System. Herpers J.-M. (RMCA), Theeten F., (RBINS/RMCA), Adam M., (RBINS) & Semal P. (RBINS)

annex 5 - BBR/175/A3 NaturalHeritage: The ABS and CITES module of the DaRWIN Collection Management System. Herpers J.-M. (RMCA), Engeldow H., (APM), Adam M., (RBINS) & Semal P. (RBINS)

annex 6 - BBR/175/A3 NaturalHeritage: The new interface of the DaRWIN Collection Management System. Semal P. (RBINS) & Theeten F.

annex 7 - BBR/175/A3 NaturalHeritage: The GeoDaRWIN Collection Management SystemHerpers J.-M. (RMCA), Lahogue P. (RMCA), Theeten F. (RMCA), & Van den Spiegel D. (RMCA)
annex 9 - BBR/175/A3 NaturalHeritage: The Multimedia module of the DaRWIN Collection Management SystemHerpers J.-M. (RMCA), Theeten F., (RBINS/RMCA) & Semal P. (RBINS)


Darwin offers today a complete solution to:

  • Manage with specific access rights at the individual and role levels:

  • The collections (with hierarchy of main collections / unlimited sub-collections and GRSciColl and CETAF Collection registry identifiers)

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Hierarchical structure of the collections and sub-collections


The management of the collections and subcollections can be adapted easily changing the relation between the child collection and the parent collection. It is also possible to change the status (private, public) and the access rights at the level of the subcollection e.g. collection under study or sensitive material. e.g. main collection and type specimens collection for a group.

  • The specimens (with related specimens / part / object / sample) and CETAF stable identifiers. The different parts can belong to different collections / subcollections, e.g. skin in the specimen collection and DNA extract in the biobank section. To take into account multiple parts of a specimen, each part is identified by CETAF stable identifier
  • The taxonomies (with parallel taxonomies e.g. working vs consensus, and possible duplicates, synonyms or homonyms with history of the identification.
  • The locations (with temporal aspects)
  • The people (with ORCID, and VIAF identifiers)
  • The institutions (with GRID, ROR, wikidata, … identifiers)
  • The expeditions with links to peoples


  • to encode all the data and metadata associated with these content types using:

  • the native DaRWIN interface,


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Native DaRWIN interface developed in Symfony


  • the embedded Naturalheritage interface:
    In this case the menu are replace by a “2 clicks” html menu in the institution website which can be customised to add easily new links or services


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Embedded DaRWIN interface in an institution website.


  • to import data from old databases and field/offline encoding with

  1. import script
  2. XLS templates

Possibility to perform batch import of CSV files with quality checks in different steps (staging mechanism) with duplicate detection and correction for taxa, localities, expeditions and people. The import was divide in 3 steps:

  • Taxonomy

  • Locations

  • specimens

  • To manage the labels and the loans

  1. to print labels as PDF files or directly to thermal printers if drivers are available (Zebra and Avery Denisson).
  2. to manage loans (+ external report server to generate PDF used for exchanges and to store a freezed version of the loan contract)


  • to encode and retrieve data based on geographical coordinates

  • to take into account protection regulations (CITES, Nagoya)

  • to generate various reports and statistics about the collections

  • to contains links to files, websites or pictures (IIIF link)

  • To export

  • possibility to export to GBIF and IPT from SQL views
  • embedded export functionalities (in CSV format) and yearly reporting that do not require an external report servers
  • Using JSON API
Filed under: Vision/main customers