PastPerfect-Online Client's Guide

Welcome to MWeb™!




Welcome to PastPerfect-Online, powered by MWeb™! We hope this document provides the information you need. Please contact PastPerfect if there is anything missing or unclear.

This document helps you plan and administer the configuration and options of PPO. If the number of options seems overwhelming at first, don't worry. Most have default values that will work just fine, so you should concentrate only on those that are of most interest.

The features described below are all part of the standard PPO product. If you require more customization or functionality than the product provides, you may convert to our MWeb Enterprise™ product. Features and prices are shown on the MWeb website.


Technical Support

PastPerfect-Online is supported by PastPerfect Software, Inc. Please start there for any problems, rather than contacting Systems Planning. The essential information we need to know to solve problems are these three things:

  1. The sequence of clicks and commands that led up to the problem.
  2. What you expected to occur.
  3. What actually occurred. Please write down the exact message shown. Just saying "the search didn't work" doesn't tell us anything.

If we cannot recreate the problem at our office we cannot fix it. This means that email is the preferred medium for communicating problem reports, so you can write down the steps that led up to the problem.


Project Implementation Steps

Here is an outline of the basic process of implementing an MWeb website for your museum.

Export data

In the PastPerfect collections management system, you must mark Object, Photo, Library, and Archive records for "Export to the web". Only the records you mark will be exported and available on the web; all their images and all required Media, Creator, People, and Sterm records will be exported as well.

Export mapping

Also in the PastPerfect collections management system, you will perform a series of mapping steps which tell MWeb which fields to publish and how you want them searched and displayed. The last step of this process uploads the data, images, and mapping files to the web server.

Configure MWeb (optional)

MWeb will provide searching and display of your data from the web without any further work on your part. However, you do have many choices for how you want the web interface to appear and function.


Client Codes

Throughout this document we provide examples. The examples use the following abbreviations:

xxx stands for the brief name of your museum. You and PastPerfect technical support will agree on the exact name to use. It will appear in the URL for your MWeb site, which will be:
We use xxx throughout this document when we mean this brief name.
yyy stands for your PastPerfect client number. You will need to know this in order to use FTP to upload new data, images, and other files. We use yyy throughout this document when we mean this number.

What is MWeb?

Overview of MWeb

MWeb, a trademark of Systems Planning, is software designed to publish museum, archives, and photographic collections on the World-Wide Web. It comes in several versions; the version you will use has been specially developed to work with PastPerfect software.

MWeb provides several types of search interface:

MWeb does not access the museum's PastPerfect database; instead, relevant data is extracted periodically and run through the MWeb Preprocessor (PPS). The purpose of using a separate database is used to improve search performance and integration of multiple databases; there is also a security benefit in not exposing your live PastPerfect data to the web.

MWeb was originally developed for the J. Paul Getty Trust in 1997 and has been under active development ever since.

MWeb is a standard CGI (Common Gateway Interface) program. By policy, the HTML and JavaScript output by MWeb are simple and standardized, to serve a wide variety of client browsers and operating systems. The goal is for MWeb to run on all browsers and platforms newer than 4-5 years old.


Content Types

A concept basic to MWeb is Content Types. Similar to record types in other systems, an MWeb Content Type is a distinct type of record in the system. In PPO there are eight Content Types: Objects, Photos, Library, Archives, Images, Creators, People, and Subject Terms. The first four represent materials in your collections, and the last four are authority files used to manage terminology (or to manage images in the case of Images).

In MWeb, any record can be linked to any number of other records of the same or different Content Type. The MWeb Preprocessor (PPS) makes clickable links for these so that users of your website just have to click to navigate among the linked records. For example, they could click on a Creator name in an Object record to see the Creator record; and from the Creator record view all the Objects, Photos, Library Records, and Archive Records of which that person was the creator.


MWeb Functionality

Search Results

Searches can be of two types. "Images Only" searches find only those records with images. Results of these searches are shown as thumbnail images with the image Caption and a link to the Full Record below each thumbnail. (The convention is that the smaller text right under the image contains data about the image, and the larger text below that is about the object.)

"All Records" searches find records whether they have images or not. Results of these searches are shown as a mini-thumbnail on the left, a link to the Full Record, and the first three data fields in a paragraph format. (A mini-thumbnail is just your normal thumbnail shown at half size.) In this display the user's search terms are highlighted.


Database Sort Order

Search Results are displayed in the following order: Objects, Library, Archives, Photos, Media, Creators, People, Sterms. Within each of these, the sort is determined by the first three fields you choose to display in brief records. This is covered below under Mapping Your Data.

All displays of records in Search Results are displayed using this sort, except where the user has chosen a sort order in Advanced Search.


Search Suggestions

MWeb includes a "Search Suggestions" feature. In case a search finds no records, Search Suggestions lists words that are spelled similarly to those in the search. The user can then just click on a word to perform a search.

Searches performed by clicking in Search Suggestions search all forms of material indexed on the site, rather than just the material the user have been searching for originally. For example, it will search for library records and other forms, as well as museum objects, and it will search for all records and not just those with images.



MWeb uses two sizes of images: the full image and a thumbnail. The PastPerfect export will create the thumbnail during export.


Help File

For the convenience of your users, we maintain a Help file for MWeb on our server with links from the MWeb displays.


MWeb Layout and Appearance

Splash Screen

You have the option of designing a Splash Screen as the first page each user sees when using your MWeb website. The Splash Screen is a page you design and construct and upload to the web server. You may put anything you wish on this page, including text, graphics, etc. The only requirements are that it must contain a link to the MWeb Keyword Search page where users normally begin to work with your data. This link looks like this:

     <a href=''>Search the Collection</a>

(See Client Codes for the meaning of "xxx" and "yyy".) Of course, you can substitute any phrase you wish for "Search the Collection". If you know how, you can use a button or graphic for this link instead.

The Splash Screen must be named "Index.htm" and uploaded to the \yyy\yyy\ directory on the server.


Modifying the Interface

At any time you may change the wording of certain messages displayed by MWeb using the MWeb Interface Management System™ (IMS). IMS lets you change the browser window title, the footer displayed on every page, and certain other messages. In addition, IMS is used to choose a layout and color scheme, to choose certain interface options, and (for advanced sites) to modify the CSS stylesheet used by MWeb.

IMS works from your browser, and the changes take place immediately.


Adding a Logo

You may add a logo to be displayed at the top of each page generated by MWeb. This can be an existing logo you museum already has or one especially created for MWeb. We recommend that the logo be no more than 100 pixels high and 600 pixels wide. The logo must be either a JPEG or a GIF image.

MWeb assumes the logo is named "Pagebanner.jpg"; if you want to use another name or a GIF file you will have to modify the AP_PAGEBANNER message using IMS.

Upload the logo to the \yyy\yyygraphics\ directory of the PastPerfect MWeb server (where yyy is your PastPerfect client number).

You may use the Layout section of IMS to tell MWeb whether to center your logo at the top of each page, or to put it in the upper left corner.

You may wish to match the background color of the logo to the background color of the pane in which it is displayed. Alternatively, you may modify the background color of the pane in which it is displayed by using the IMS Styles section.

In case the AP_PAGEBANNER message gets messed up, it should look like either of these two examples:

     <img src='/GRAPHICSLOCATION/pagebanner.jpg' align=top>
     <img src=&#39;/GRAPHICSLOCATION/pagebanner.jpg&#39; align=top>

Be sure to use all capitals for the word "GRAPHICSLOCATION". Leave "align=top" even if your logo will be centered or left-aligned; it is used to eliminate unwanted space around the logo.


"No Image" Graphics

There are times when records without images are shown in the Thumbnail Display. We provide default graphics for this purpose, one for each MWeb Content Type. If you do not like these graphics, you may create your own and upload them to \yyy\yyyimages\thumbs\ on the server (where yyy is your PastPerfect client number). There are eight of these, one for each Content Type. Their names must be as shown in the following table:

Objects Noimage100.jpg
Library Noimage200.jpg
Archives Noimage300.jpg
Photos Noimage350.jpg
Images Noimage500.jpg
Creators Noimage700.jpg
People Noimage710.jpg
Subject Terms Noimage720.jpg


"Accessibility" is the term used by web designers to indicate the availability of a site to the handicapped, especially the visually impaired. There are generally two major concerns: the ability of the partially sighted to override font sizes and colors for better visibility, and the use of the site by "screen-readers," software that reads the site out loud to the blind. Users of screen-readers are best served by having elements on the page in a meaningful order, by having alternative text for graphical elements, and by having alternatives to Flash and other visual components.

Our policy is to enable accessibility by removing barriers, such as the elimination of frames in MWeb (since frames confuse screen-readers). However, we do not prescribe any specific fonts, colors, or navigation. This is a decision each client must make, depending on their policies and requirements.

For more details on MWeb and accessibility, see MWeb and Accessibility.


MWeb Credit Line

The MWeb license requires a link to the MWeb credits page on each page. This link will be added automatically to the bottom of each page.


Data Considerations

Mapping Your Data

To learn how to use PastPerfect's Publish to Web feature, see the PastPerfect documentation. Here we will discuss the implications for searching and display of your data.

Select data fields to export

This step allows you to select what fields you want the general public to see using the MWeb application on the web. You should not select any fields that contain sensitive or embarrassing data.

Please note the following mandatory fields to export:

View or change field names

MWeb displays fields in Full Records by preceding each one with a fieldname label. This step tells MWeb what labels to use. You may ignore this step if you are happy with the defaults shown.

View or change field display order

The order you specify in this step has three purposes:

  1. The field numbered 1 will be used for the MWeb Identifier that will be the link to the Full Record. This Identifier is not necessarily unique, but is merely a convenience for the user. It may be an object name, a title, a photo caption, or some other meaningful field that will give the user some idea of what the link refers to. (If a particular record does not have the field you choose, MWeb will use some other field, because every record needs an Identifier.)
  2. The fields numbered 2 and 3 will be displayed along with the Identifier in brief-record listings in Search Results. For example, for a library record the Identifier may be the title, and fields 2 and 3 might be the author and date.
  3. The numbers also specify the order in which the fields will appear in Full Records.

View or change Advanced-Search categories

MWeb's Advanced Search and Click-&-Search allow users to search multiple fields at once. For example, they can search Creator, Creator2, and Creator3 all at once. This step allows you to decide what Categories you think will be most useful for your data and your users. You may use any number of these up to 15, and call them anything you wish. In this step you also determine the order in which the categories are displayed in MWeb's Advanced Search and Click-&-Search.

View or change field map

Here is where you map the actual data fields to the Categories created in the previous step. You may map each field to only a single Category.


Searchable Date-Ranges

MWeb permits users to restrict Advanced Searches by date. Your records may have a text date (such as "3d century A.D.", "1950s", or "1450-1500") in the Date field that MWeb parses into start and end dates. Date ranges may also be generated from names of periods and rulers, including modifiers like "late", "early", etc. (for example, "mid to late Choson period"). Currently BP dates are not handled.

In addition to or instead of a text date, you may enter earliest and latest dates in the Year from and Year to fields, using a minus date for BC (e.g. -3000 for 3000 BC). MWeb will use these dates if available, in preference to parsing the text date.


Using HTML Tags in Data

Data may contain HTML tags if you wish. You might want to use HTML tags to italicize or bold certain words, to separate text into paragraphs, etc.


Using MWeb Features

Linking to MWeb from Your Website

You may direct users to MWeb from your main website or anywhere else. This section shows how to direct users to MWeb. You may also link to a specific record or to the results of a specific search -- see the next section on Direct Access for this.

Add the following link to your main website (or wherever you want to link to MWeb from):

     <a href=''>Search the Collection</a>

(See Client Codes for the meaning of "xxx" and "yyy".) Of course, you can substitute any phrase you wish for "Search the Collection".

When a user clicks this link, the web-server will look for a document called "index.htm" in the virtual directory (which points to the \yyy\yyy\ real directory). This document will be either your optional MWeb Splash Screen or a "redirect" page that will point the user to MWeb's Keyword Search screen.

These kinds of links cannot be made by PastPerfect, as they must be made in your organization's website, not in PastPerfect-Online. You should request this from the person responsible for your organization's website.


Direct Access

Direct Access is an MWeb feature that permits users to go directly to content without going through the MWeb Start Page or performing a search.


A Direct Access "link" is like any other HTML link; that is, it looks like this:

     <a href="URL">Link text</a>

The "Link text" is what the user sees and clicks on. When the user clicks on the Link text, the browser navigates to the URL specified in the "href" attribute.

The following sections describe how to construct the URLs for the "href" attributes of your links. Remember, the entire URL is case-insensitive in MWeb.


The easiest way to capture the URL is to go to the display you want in MWeb, then copy the URL from the browser's address box. Almost every MWeb display can be captured this way, with the major exception of Search Results pages 2 or higher: you can capture the URL of the first Search Results page, but the later pages are generated from an ephemeral list of hits.

The other way to create a URL is just to type it, using the guidance below. The following sections describe how to construct the URLs for the "href" attributes of your links. Remember, the entire URL is case-insensitive in MWeb.

Using either technique, once you have the URL, use it inside a link as described above.

Keyword Searches

For Keyword Searches, the URL consists of these segments; each segment is shown separately, for clarity, but they should be concatenated with no spaces in your link:

URL segment Notes This is the URL to your MWeb site
/yyycgi/mweb.exe This specifies the URL is for the MWeb program
?request=keyword This is the request type, telling MWeb this is a keyword search. Replace the word keyword with keywordimages if you wish to search only records with images. (See example 2)
;keyword=zzz Replace zzz with the keyword(s) to be searched. Do NOT use quotation marks. (See examples 3 and 4)
;subset=999 Optional: This limits the search to a specific Content Type. Replace 999 with 100 for objects, 200 for library records, 300 for archival records, or 350 for photographs. (See example 5)


     3);keyword=annie oakley
     4);keyword=rifles or guns
     5);keyword=annie oakley;subset=100

Full Records

For Full Records, the URL consists of these segments; each segment is shown separately, for clarity, but they should be concatenated with no spaces in your link:

URL segment Notes This is the URL to your MWeb site
/yyycgi/mweb.exe This specifies the URL is for the MWeb program
?request=record This is the request type, telling MWeb this is a full record request
;id=zzz Replace zzz with the PPID of the record in your PastPerfect system
;type=999 Replace 999 with with 101 for objects, 201 for library records, 301 for archival records, or 102 for photographs.


Recording and Reporting Searches

Since December 2006, PPO automatically captures every search performed on your site. To produce statistical summaries, you run a program called MWeb Reporter. Reporter runs on your server automatically once a month and emails you when it the report is ready. If you do not receive an email, or if you want to run Reporter yourself, there is also an option to run it from your browser.

Until 2008, Reporter was a Windows application that ran on your computer and communicated with your server. Now it is a server application that runs automatically once a month and emails you when it the report is ready. There is also an option to run it from your browser. You may uninstall the Windows version from your computer.

Running Reporter

If automatic scheduling is not available, or if you wish to run the report yourself, use these instructions.

  1. In your browser, go to this page:

    where xxx is your site name and yyy is your client number.

    NOTE: Do not run Reporter directly, use RunReporter!

  2. Enter your site code, and click one of the two radio buttons (Current year or All years).

    Site codes are: autry, lacma, pam, or your 5-digit PastPerfect client number.

  3. Click the start button.
  4. You will receive an email when the report is ready. Or you can just wait a few minutes and go to this location for the report:


Reporter creates the report on the server in its /MWeb/ directory, naming it "Reporter.htm".

The report shows a number of graphs, all to the same scale. The graphs for a calendar year are all in the same color, with light and dark bars alternating to show the months. Annual totals are shown beneath each graph.

Tip: Hold your mouse pointer over a bar and the total for that month will be shown in a tool-tip.

At the end of the report is some supplemental information about queries, by calendar year:

At the end of the report is a clickable link to download a tab-delimited text file that includes all the searches used to generate the report. You may use this file for further analysis. We suggest you import it into Excel if it is not too large; otherwise a database management system or statistics package may be required.


Google Sitemaps

If you have the 2008 upgrade, all your object, archive, library, and photo Full Records are sent to Google for indexing. This allows people to find your site when they are searching on Google.


Interface Management System

What Is IMS?

IMS information has been relocated to the IMS Administrator's Guide.


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