ArchivesCanada: Project Timeline

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This section of the ArchivesCanada development project wiki includes an outline of the project as it has evolved over the course of its development and implementation.


After ongoing discussions between the Canadian Council of Archives (CCA) and Library Archives Canada (LAC), a project is initiated to test the scalability of ICA-AtoM for potential use as a new platform for ArchivesCanada, the Canadian national portal site for archival descriptions. For further details on this project, see: LAC ICA-AtoM scalability testing

As part of the outcomes of this testing, it is determined that replacing ICA-AtoM's search index (Zend Lucene) will offer the greatest scalability and performance enhancements. However, such a change will be non-backwards compatible. This, combined with requests from the CCA to overhaul certain UI features (including search and advanced search), sets the stage for the eventual creation of an AtoM 2.0.0 release.

In May 2011, discussions and research around how best to revise the search interface for ArchivesCanada began, and some initial wireframes were created. See ArchivesCanada 2011 Planning - Early mockups.

The ICA-AtoM 1.2 release was made publicly available in November of 2011. It incorporated some search index optimizations, and other optimizations to the data model abstraction layer, as a result of the discoveries resulting from the LAC ICA-AtoM scalability testing project.


In January - March 2012, wireframes were produced for review by the CCA outlining a new ArchivesCanada theme, several usability overhauls, and new features. A set of entity icons was also produced. These wireframes became the basis upon which the AtoM 2.0.0 release would be built. See: 2012 ArchivesCanada wireframes.

Following this design and analysis period, Artefactual began work on a new development branch to begin implementing the search index overhaul agreed upon at the conclusion of the LAC ICA-AtoM scalability testing project. Simultaneously, work was being done to prepare the ICA-AtoM 1.3 release, which included an overhaul to the treeview to address performance issues identified as part of the scalability tests. More information on these changes can be seen in the Treeview development documentation page.


Development on the AtoM 2.0 release, based on the 2012 ArchivesCanada wireframes continues. Initial data is collected as well - database dumps are taken from provincial portal sites already using ICA-AtoM (British Columbia, Alberta, Sasktatchewan, Ontario), while arrangements are made with the CCA to collect MARC based data from the legacy ArchivesCanada site for the remaining provinces. The first large-scale data migration of the ArchivesCanada upgrade project begins.

In June 2013, coinciding with the 2013 Association of Canadian Archivists conference, an initial preview site, ArchivesCanada Beta, is launched publicly for review and feedback. At this point, the site only includes a sampling of the final data sets that will be included. Some user feedback is received via a public thread in the AtoM User Forum, here.

In late July 2013, a notice is sent out to all the provincial and territorial councils about data collection for the final launch. At this point, the project schedule indicates that late September 2013 is the anticipated launch of ArchivesCanada 2.0, with a public AtoM 2.0 release following in October of 2013.

The public 2.0.0 release is made available on October 13, 2013. It includes a new default theme, Dominion, in addition to the ArchivesCanada theme pictured in the 2012 wireframes.


Due to ongoing internal upgrades, non-standard export formats, and some compatibility issues, receipt of all provincial and territorial data is delayed. The CCA decides to push back the formal ArchivesCanada launch indefinitely to ensure that it can proceed when all provinces and territories are properly represented.

Artefactual partners with provincial/territorial representatives to help assess their data and guide export enhancements for compatibility with ArchivesCanada. Several internal test data imports are performed, with data analysis reports returned to the relevant council members.

During this time, several other provinces and territories move to AtoM. These include:

Because this simplifies data import, and the project hopes to acquire the most up-to-date data possible for the final launch, final data collection is delayed until all provincial and territorial data is ready for collection.

During various import tests and data analyses performed for the councils, some issues around multilingual use are identified in AtoM that might affect the usabilty of the final, bilingual ArchivesCanada site. Correspondingly, in August of 2014, the CCA sponsors further multilingual usability enhancements and bug fixes, to be included in the 2.1 release. AtoM 2.1 is publicly released on September 22, 2014.


Data import testing and assistance to the councils continues into 2015.

In March of 2015, the CCA contacts Artefactual to discuss a separate project to migrate its Directory of Archives data to a new platform. After some analysis and discussion, development plans to enhance AtoM's Archival institution search and browse functionality are established instead, as the new functionality will prevent the need for a separate Directory database. Development begins in May of 2015, with the enhancements to be made publicly available in the 2.3 release.

In June of 2015, final data collection for the ArchivesCanada launch proceeds. Data is collected from all provinces and territories with materials to contribute, and the migration project formally begins. The schedule is revised with a target launch date of October 2015. The final ArchivesCanada site will be launched on an initial version of AtoM 2.3, with the public 2.3 release made available shortly thereafter. (Release 2.2 is made publicly available on July 10, 2015.)