Build a Humanities information system in a day with Heurist (no coding)

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Old Arts 205

Heurist ( is a free academic web service for constructing rich, heterogenous, linked databases with characteristiscs of both relational and graph databases. It includes sophisticated filtering and visualisation of results through lists, maps, timelines and network diagrams, with easy export of database subsets for further analysis and visualisation (including output to a spreadsheet, R, Gephi or GIS).

In a few hours in this workshop you will be walked through the setup of a complete working system adapted to your needs, including an integrated web site with standard pages for project description and embedded database functionality. The information system you develop is then continuously modifiable into the future - BY YOU - as your research needs evolve.

Setting up an equivalent system would typically lock in fixed structures and require several months of programming work, with no guarantee of a succesful outcome, of sustainability beyond the end of funding or of further modifications (except with costly programming assistance).

Heurist takes care of the infrastructure, brings new features funded by the community, and puts management and modifications of the database and website firmly in your hands. The project is non-profit, based at the University of Sydney, and the software is Open Source on gitHub.


Dr Ian Johnson
University of Sydney

Ian Johnson (Honorary Associate, FASS, University of Sydney) was Director of the Archaeological Computing Laboratory, later Arts eResearch, at the University of Sydney from 1990 - 2015. He has vbeen building databases since the 1980s, and worked extensively in the use of GIS in archaeology and history in the 1990s, including one of the first time-based mapping systems (TimeMap).

Since 2005 he has directed the design and development of Heurist ( and participates in a large number of Digital Humanities projects, in Australia and internationally, ranging from archaeology and history, through literary and prosopographic studies, to contemporary media and social science.