Cuneiform tabletWe are working with the RTI-VIPS project to simplify the deployment process for their Reflectance Transformation Imaging software, packaging these complex components into an installer designed for use by researchers in the humanities. This will help to overcome a key deployment barrier faced by the software's users, including researchers from the British Museum and the Louvre.

The RTI-VIPS programme serves to provide solutions that employ Reflectance Transformation Imaging techniques to capture the reflectance properties of a given surface. Multiple captures are taken with varying light sources to construct an interactive relit record of the material sampled. Cultural heritage examples of the technology include work on cuneiform tablets, numismatic archives, manuscripts, rock art and lithic artifacts.


The RTI-VIPS software is comprised of a number of software packages that handle the acquisition and viewing of images, the calculation of reflectance properties, and camera management and calibration.

The software developers, based within the Web and Internet Science Research Group at the University of Southampton, want to investigate more convenient methods to deploy the software components required to operate the system. Currently the installation process is manual and comprises numerous steps…

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By Steve Crouch, Research Software Group Lead.

During August, the Institute’s Research Software Group has helped developers in the areas of reflectance imaging and field theory to improve the usability and sustainability of their research software. We’ve also heard back from a previous project, where our work continues to realise a significant impact. Our Open Call is still open until 30 September - If you are looking for help with your own research software, why not submit an application?

Packaging imaging software for end-users

One of our collaborations is with the RTI-VIPSprogramme, which serves to provide solutions that employ Reflectance Transformation Imaging techniques. We’ve started work to help to improve the sustainability of the software and automate its installation for its end users, which include the British Museum, the Oxford Bodleian Libraryand the…

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1-5 September 2014, The Natural History Museum, London

by Farah Ahmed, SSI Fellow and X-Ray CT Facility Manager, Natural History Museum, London


  1. An entire session of the conference was dedicated to software advancement and discovery for 3D visualisation.
  2. There is huge interest in providing a central resource for researchers requiring open-source software for the use of Micro-CT data. Currently researchers spend a significant amount of time trying to determine the best software to address their needs and have no central hub, which is highly desired.
  3. Drishti Prayog was introduced as a new learning, teaching and public engagement software designed for classrooms, museums, public places and research. As a result of its introduction, Manchester University are implementing it in their facility and The NHM is looking at how it can be introduced into public galleries as well as using it for the school groups that attend (over 100, 000 students attend annually through school visits).
  4. The Drishti software workshop was fully booked and extra drop in sessions were extended to fulfil the demand for one-to-one training.
  5. High profile researchers such as…
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3D models of the aquatic crocodyliform Pelagosaurus typus. By Felipe Montefeltro, postdoctoral researcher at São Paulo State University, Brazil.

This article is part of our series: a day in the software life, in which we ask researchers from all disciplines to discuss the tools that make their research possible.

The application of computer-based technologies was once largely constrained by the high price of both hardware and software. In the past decade, the price of both has fallen to a much more affordable level. Now, computer-based methods are available for a greater number of palaeontologists.

This is particularly true of X-ray computed tomography (CT) which has profoundly changed how we study fossils. I study the internal structure of fossil crocodile skulls based on CT data and use it to search for clues as to how they lived.

Someone who looks at a crocodile basking on a river-bank might think it is little changed from the time when cold-blooded animals ruled the earth. Yet crocodiles, alligators, caimans and the Indian gharial form only a small and relatively new branch of the group Crocodyliformes. This group also includes a plethora of fossil species, some of them strongly deviating from the general image we have of their extant…

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By Gillian Law, TechLiterate, talking with Michael Chappell, University of Oxford.

This article is part of our series: Breaking Software Barriers, in which Gillian Law investigates how our Research Software Group has helped projects improve their research software. If you would like help with your software, let us know.

Sometimes you just have to recognise that you can’t do everything, acknowledge that someone else has more experience and skills than you do, and accept their help.

That’s what Michael Chappell, Associate Professor in Engineering Science at the University of Oxford’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering did, when he turned to the Software Sustainability Institute for a steer in how to take his software forward.

Professor Chappell had developed an excellent piece of software that did exactly what he set out to make it do: the C++ tool, FABBER, processes functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to recognise blood flow patterns in the brain and measure brain activity. It works well for the research group that Chappell currently leads, QuBIc, and many other developers in the field are also keen to create their own analysis models to work with it, but that’s where things begin to become problematic for Chappell.

"This bit of…

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Bulbs.jpgBy Simon Hettrick.

Most people turn apoplectic when faced with someone who “thinks outside the box” or attempts to harvest “low hanging fruit”. And rightfully so. We’ve learned to vilify management speak, because it’s wasteful and verbose, but what about its visual equivalent? It’s time that we start saying “NO!” to meaningless images.

The world of software is a grim place if you need an image for a website. This is down to a fundamental problem: you can’t see software. This leads a lot of people to think “you can see computers!”. But there’s only so many times that you can use that data-centre image - with its banks of cold, emotionless circuitry – before things start to get depressing. And it is this tortuous path that causes some people to embrace stock photography with an incredible level of enthusiasm.

There’s nothing wrong with using stock images. It's difficult not to, unless you have your own photography department. I just advise some caution on the images you choose. Take the image on this page, with it’s clever subtext of being the illuminated one amongst dowdy colleagues. It is a nice…

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