All posts by Oasis

Update: September 2023

Publius Horatius by Hendrick Goltzius (Stecher_in) – 1586 – Albertina, Austria – Public Domain.

The OASIS form is shortly to be redeployed (by the end of September 2023) with a number of improvements requested by users. These are primarily based on the Search, Results, and Summary pages. A full list is below:

  1. Improvement: A filter for O2 users to see all records that have gone through the system as unreviewed (i.e. the review window has passed). This is called “HER Review date passed” and is under the Status dropdown on the Search page.
  2. Improvement: Better explanation text for the Notifications page to help users understand what the Notification is for,and how it’s triggered.
  3. Improvement: new Notifications for HERs, with automated alerts sent out when a record is approaching 30 days and 7 days to the end of review window.
  4. Improvement: Extra fields on the Search page to search on date record created and date record completed.
  5. Bug: On the Search page, the ability to search on Site Code is now working correctly.
  6. Improvement: Ability to search on records with a polygon uploaded, either in the location section or the Additional Information section (OASIS Scotland only).
  7. Improvement: CSV export for Search results, this is in addition to the JSON option already available.
  8. Improvement: Keywords page: building components thesaurus added to the list of thesauri (England – Buildings mode only).
  9. Bug: Fixed issue whereby an organisation that hosted multiple HERs was getting incorrect/irrelevant records when using the CSV export option.
  10. Improvement: the “search again” button is duplicated at the top of the page so as to reduce the amount of clicks to navigate back to the Search page.
  11. Bug: “Sort by” break on the Search results page has been fixed.
  12. Improvement: Scottish search page improved for HER and HES users, primarily so that results set is limited to just records that require review.
  13. Improvement: Nearly 300 legacy records from England and Scotland were stuck with no Status. These have been updated and are now back in the main workflow.
  14. Improvement: A general tidying of Scottish records and their Status after migration, so that they should have the expected Status and fields.
  15. Bug: A small number of Scottish records were mapped to the wrong archive, these have been re-mapped.
  16. Improvement: The DES Summary has been edited in-line with comments from users (OASIS Scotland).
  17. Improvement: The main OASIS Summary has been edited to include fields such as Site Code.
  18. Improvement: The PDF export of the OASIS Summary has been given tweaked to include more fields (such as Site Code), a title and a datestamp.
  19. Bug: On the location page, when using the bin icon to remove a point – so either removing a single point (in the wrong place) and adding a new marker in map OR adding a new marker in the right place and then removing the old incorrect point -was generating an error upon save. This has been fixed.
  20. Improvement: updated local authority boundary lookups to most recent version (April/2023). Associated with this has been an update to nomencalture to better define Ceremonial County and Local Authority Districts.

A more open-ended piece of work has been sorting out author records between OASIS and the ADS Library. A more detailed description on this piece of work is covered on the main ADS Blog. The result for OASIS users is that they should see:

  • Fewer duplicate author entries appearing in drop-down list of the report section, for example:
    • J Smith
    • John Smith
    • Smith, John
    • Smith, J
    • Smith JL
    • Smith J.
  • Entries linked to Library entries/ORCID identifiers have been improved.
  • Library entries have been cleaned wherever possible.

This work will continue wherever time allows, with nearly 100,000 unique entries in the author table we have not been able to address all known issues. Although much can be done programmatically a significant amount of work is still manual, especially to verify matches between potential duplicates.

The main objective is that authors recorded in OASIS are reflected in tidy Library equivalents such as where all your work is recorded under your name.

The ADS are always happy to resolve any issues where authors have been mistakenly merged/duplicates or reports misassigned. Please contact the ADS with details of what needs to be ammeneded.

Forthcoming improvements

The focus over the next month is looking at other smaller improvements and tasks requested by the community, including:

  • Continuing to work with HES and DES on the DES export options, to ensure everything is 100% for the next reporting cycle.
  • Dealing with complex multipolygons and their impact on the reviewer page.
  • Adding the CoE HER as a new reviewer for CoE properties.
  • Continuing to update Research Framework Questions.

Bigger pieces of work are currently in the planning and/or review stage:

  • The ability for an HER to mark a record as “Not reviewed”
  • Ability to add a “decline report” with message function for HERs on the report page.
  • An optional human remains module – currently with review with relevant OASIS Board members and CIFA SIG.
  • An optional palaeoenvironmental module – currently at the scoping stage with specialist/user requirements being compiled by menbers of the Oxford Rewilding later Prehistory Project along with counterparts at Historic England.

The OASIS Dashboard

Screen grab showing map of OASIS sites

Over the last two years we’ve been developing a separate application known as the OASIS Dashboard. The Dashboard is a ‘sandbox’ application that focusses on presenting the user with more views and ways of interacting with OASIS data.

Funding for the Dashboard was via a grant from the University of York ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, under a project called ADP: Archaeological Data for Policy-makers. The primary aim of the project to present OASIS data in a more meaningful and visual way to local and national government users.

After a successful review of a pilot application, the Dashboard is open to all registered OASIS users, with access to records limited to those records you have created or have review rights for.

Here’s an overview of the types of functionality available:

Level 1 + 2 users

Summary statistics: including number of records created, records with core fields completed, records reviewed by the HER, number of reports in the ADS Library.

Search reports: ability to search for reports and see their DOIs

Throughput: a visual breakdown of records created/reports released

A map of projects: with ability to filter by year and type of project

Overview of project type: for example to compare planning and research projects.

Level 4 users (national bodies)

National heritage bodies – HE and HES – have a set of custom queries to show use of the system over time and key performance indicators.

Level 5 users

Currently designed as a proof of concept for Research Frameworks, a user has the ability to see the answers given to any of their Research Framework questions.

The future

There are additional features that are still in development – a more customised batch export for example – that will be added in due course.

Thinking further ahead… the metadata entered into OASIS has enormous potential, both for the stakeholders of the records (i.e. those that use OASIS regularly as part of reporting or reviewing) but also researchers that want to re-use metadata. There is also Level 3 users (museums and archives) to consider! The Dashboard now forms an essential part of half-yearly reporting back to the OASIS Management Board, who will steer future iterations of the application. The Board is cognisant of the potential for public access to key statisitcs so as to demonstrate the impact and benefit of historic environment information created by OASIS users. As a proof of concept, we’ve produced some very basic statistics on the public front page.

OASIS V now live in Scotland

Photograph of a skein of Pink-footed Geese head South over Newburgh village.
Martyn Gorman. Newburgh: Return of the wild geese. Copyright Martyn Gorman; licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

Over the period December 2022 to January 2023 all Scottish OASIS records were copied into the new OASIS database. From this point forward OASIS V should be used for creating new records and editing existing records. This process took much longer than originally anticipated due to some improvements that were required on the mapping of data between systems. Our thanks for everyones patience over this period.

Users should note that, as in England, all records in Scotland have been switched to ‘read only’. A message will disply informing you to use OASIS V for any changes. Any registration for OASIS IV has been switched off, and redirects should be in place to point you to the new system.

How to access your records

OASIS V is a brand new database and application that works on individuals having their own accounts, not generic organisational accounts with the same username and password**. Because of this change please be aware that if you do not already have a new OASIS V account you will need to make one; your old details used in OASIS IV will not work. If you are unsure if you have an OASIS V account contact the OASIS Helpdesk where a member of the team can assist.

If you don’t have an OASIS V account, To get started please go to Register and follow the instructions. Like many modern web applications you will be emailed to verify that the email account is active and that you have access. Until you verify this email your new account will not work. If you do not receive this email please check spam folders, and if still not received contact the OASIS Helpdesk where a member of the team can assist.

During registration you will be prompted to join an organisation. Use the search box to find your organisation and request to join. If you cannot find your organisation please check spellings and syntax carefully – all organisations registered in IV should be there. If you still can’t find your organisation then contact the OASIS Helpdesk where a member of the team can assist. Once you have asked to join an organisation then you will be marked as PENDING i.e. you cannot access that account until an account Admin has verified your request. If your request is not processed, or perhaps you should be the Admin of the account then, as above, contact the OASIS Helpdesk where a member will resolve as quickly as possible.

**This was part of the functional specification issued by Historic England and Historic Environment Scotland. Having individual accounts allows users to better ensure password safety, as well as flexibility in uers being able to represent more than one organisation.

How to find help

As noted quite a few times above, the OASIS Helpdesk is always on hand Monday-Friday to help with any issues. Further training and support is also available from the HES OASIS Officer: Peter McKeague.

The main Help Page has links to:

A summary of the migration

In total 8912 records have been copied across to OASIS V. The migration has been a tricky business especially for those organisations that work cross border who may have had some members of the team creating records in England in version V, and others in Scotland working in IV but also sometimes V. This has been complicated by some records being migrated earlier in the process and thus having a short “dual life” in both versions IV and V. The logic of what to keep works thus:

  • Compare records to look for the chronological latest version (last edit)
  • If the record was last updated in version IV then this supercedes anything in V
  • If the record was last updated in V, then this is now overwritten in IV

To save against any error or inconsistency, please be aware that all records in V are backed up regularly, and as detailed below, records in version IV can be recalled at any point.

How to raise issues with old records in the new system

As in England, the migration of records in Scotland has thrown up a lot of problems in data consistency. Although we have taken time to check and identify major issues there is still a small chance that a field used in the old database has a value incompatible with the new one. The most obvious outcome to a user is that the status in OASIS V is not equivalent to the old system. For example a record that was marked as needing a review is now showing as core fields incomplete. If you spot anything untowards then the compare function (highlighted in the screen grab below) allows you to view the original record as it was recorded in OASIS IV.

screen grab of oasis record with compare function highlighted

Comparing the record may help highlight where the migration has produced an error. The comparison tool has links to a comments form where you can flag the issue. This sends an email to OASIS Helpdesk, here a member of the team will respond and help remedy the problem. If it’s a larger-scale problem, please contact OASIS Helpdesk directly.

Future of OASIS IV

OASIS IV will remain active, and as ‘read only’, until the end of March 2023, whereafter the database will be archived and codebase deployed to a private distributed version control system, and the links and references to the old form and internal pages switched off (with redirects where required). Users should be reassured that should data in OASIS IV be required – for example in the case of an OASIS V record having a mistake incurred during the transfer – then this data can be retreived from the archived database and synced into the OASIS V record.

Guidance for linking large-scale projects or phases of work

Overview of a large shapefile of an excavation project
GIS Data from an Archaeological Evaluation at A40 Smart Corridor, Oxfordshire. Cotswold Archaeology, 2022. cotswold2-507454

One of the many requirements for the new OASIS system was the ability to link together individual projects that belong to the same scheme of works or research project. This could be defined as:

  • fieldwork that followed on from a previous event e.g. an excavation after an evaluation
  • fieldwork that was split into phases or field seasons
  • multiple piences of fieldwork on the same infrastructure project such as a road scheme or pipeline

However, the definition of a project is always tricky! OASIS itself sets no definitions on what a ‘project’ is, as this can vary between users and between countries and local authorities. Although often synonymous with as single event such as a watching brief or building survey, in OASIS a project can comprise multiple event types and locales (sites) if this helps the user. A good rule of thumb is to treat a single OASIS project as the best way to wrap up the information contained in the final report or, if in Scotland, a submission to DES.

However, if you are creating multiple records and want to link them together then the place to do this is on the Additional info page

Screen grab of a test OASIS record hsowing the Additional Info page

When you go to this page you’ll see two options.

The first is the Large Area Scheme field. This should be used to group together projects from large-scale infrastructure or research projects. When you activate the drop-down you’ll see a list of schemes that all users have entered. For example High Speed 2. Adding a scheme links your record to this scheme, which means:

  • it does not give other users who are part of that scheme access to your record
  • it does allow national users such as HE and HES, who want to analyse and understand OASIS metadata, to be able to query and identify diverse records belonging to the same scheme.

The second option is the Related OASIS projects field. Here you can choose from:

  • Is part of:  where a project feeds into the results or rationale for having been done. For example where an excavation has followed an evaluation.
  • Related: where there is no administrative link, but you feel that flagging the relation will help people understand your work in a larger context. For example an evaluation in an adjacent field to an excavation that you did several years ago.

Users should enter the full OASIS ID (see example below). Once entered the form verifies this is a valid OASIS ID, and if true stores it as a hyperlink.

Screen grab of test OASIS record showing the related projects function

As with the Large Area Scheme function, linking a record does not give you additional access. For example, if you know “Unit X” did the evaluation and you know the OASIS ID you can put it in, but it doesn’t give you (“Unit Y”) access to this record. What it does do is allow HERS and national authorities who do have access to all records to see and follow the links. It’s hopefully just a simple way to signpost between projects, and icrease the re-use potential of OASIS metadata.

Recent and forthcoming improvements (October 2022)

Photograph of excavations at Sheffield Castle, 1958

Foundations shafts dug in August 1958 at the site of Sheffield Castle. John Moreland, Dawn Hadley (2020) Sheffield Castle 1927-2018 [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]

Recent updates

  1. Improvement: research framework questions, from the new generation of frameworks, have been loaded into the system. Links to the new home for research frameworks are also in the form, Additional guidance is being created to help users on this part of the form.
  2. Improvement: on the admin page – the drop down list of people now shows their full affiliation and role (i.e. ADMIN or STANDARD).
  3. Improvement: OASIS emails – emails for single records (i.e. not bulk updates) now have the OASIS ID in the email header.
  4. Bug: Archive notes function – after the June 2022 update there were still sporadic reports of the drop-down function not populating with appropriate lists. This has been fixed, and as with the above, should show affiliation and role.
  5. Bug: Activity page – after the June 2022 update a new issue whereby the warning that the development type had not been completed was not appearing. This has now been fully resolved.
  6. Bug: Standard vs Buildings records. Some users have reported Buildings records switching to Standard mode, and vice versa. The decision on what flavour of OASIS record is set by the user when they choose their role and country. In some cases a user going back into a Buildings record in normal mode changed the type! This should now be resolved.

Forthcoming updates

The following issues have been marked as priorities due to their nature, or frequency of request from OASIS users. These are in progress, they all need further testing or diagnosis but are scheduled for release in a later version of the form:

  1. Bug: “Sort by” is broken on the Search results page. This is being fixed.
  2. Bug: an infrequent but annoying 500 error on the report page is being investigated.
  3. Bug: an other infrequent but annoying 500 error on the location page, when changing coordinates, is being investigated.
  4. Improvement: the “search again” button will be duplicated in the top tool bar to reduce the amount of clicks to navigate back to the search page.
  5. Improvement: more options on the search page
    1. Record first created date (two date fields so users can select a period they’re interested in)
    2. Core fields completed date (two date fields so users can select a period they’re interested in)
    3. Core fields completed date (two date fields so users can select a period they’re interested in)
    4. A filter for O2 users to see all records that have gone through the system as unreviewed (i.e. the review window has passed)
  6. Improvement: The work undertaken date field currently uses a calendar widget. Users have requested being able to enter their own dates. We have a replacement widget which allows both which can be added in.
  7. Improvement: we’re looking at options to make the PDF export look more authoritative!
  8. Bug/improvement: a few cases where recording lots (50+) points for a record location has significantly . We will be looking at ways to rationalise the way the app deals with lots of points in the same locale so as to simplify the spatial query.
  9. Improvement: When a user uploads a corrupt file the message is less than helpful! This will be improved.

Improvements under review

There are several items Items that have been reported by users but represent significant change requests that need further investigation, and advice from the OASIS Management Board:

  • Major cosmetic/labeling changes to Archives page
  • Changes to have elements of the Archive page mandatory i.e. part of the core fields check
  • Further functionality for HERs to set “not to be reviewed” on records

As these represent significant changes to how users interact with the form these will be evaluated with the user community and signposted well in advance.

App crashing/slowing

Finally, over recent weeks we have been aware of three episodes where the load on OASIS caused the application to slow down and become unresponsive.

The first two were related to external web bots crawling and making extremely large number of requests to download files and information from the public facing pages (note: not the internal form pages or reports held behind the main login). Normally web crawlers/bots have no significant impact on OASIS load, but these were very very persistent bots sending thousands of requests per second. These bots were registered to a known ‘big data’ company and were not malicious. The various IP addresses associated have been blocked, and the load has returned to normal.

The final issue was caused by a recent update of the OASIS HTTPS certificate. As part of this update the app and virtual machine(s) associated with OASIS have to undergo penetration testing. Unfortunately, and despite requests not to, this was carried out during work hours. A request was made to pause pen testing until out of working hours. This has now been resolved and the new HTTPS certificate was deployed overnight on the 10th October.

Our apologies to any user that experienced problems over these periods.

Have icons disappeared within the form? Here’s the solution

This month we have deployed a new HTTPS certificate on the OASIS domain. This required some changes to the OASIS source code and VM properties. From some users this has caused icons *such as the green ticks* to disappear! If this has happened then you need to do a ‘hard browser refresh’.

As an example, in Chrome this is Ctrl+F5 (or if that doesn’t work, try Shift+F5 or Ctrl+Shift+R).

For other browsers we’d suggest searching for ‘browser refresh’ on your normal search engine where you’ll find a range of useful answers. If you’re still stuck, then please contact the Helpdesk where someone will be on hand to assist.

OASIS V migration in Scotland

The following update has been written by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) to alert all users of the OASIS form in Scotland about forthcoming changes.


During late 2022 we will be replacing the existing OASIS form (OASIS IV) with a new version: OASIS V. The new form will be more secure and features improved functionality to ensure projects are reported consistently.

We have also been working with Archaeology Scotland to integrate reporting to Discovery and Excavation Scotland (DES) and the new form will streamline project reporting in a single online form. The existing DES form will continue in use for the current year but will be retired before 2023.

Information entered through OASIS can also be shared with the regional research framework and we will be working with ScARF on that functionality going forward.

Online help

As the form has been in use in England, there is already a lot of online help available through  OASIS: Help pages including a A Guide to OASIS V ( and comprehensive OASIS V: user manual – Google Docs as well as short videos on  OASIS on Vimeo. We intend to produce additional guidance for Scottish specific aspects of the form later this year. BAJR has also published A Beginner’s Guide to using OASIS V in England.

Launch date

We have not fixed a firm launch data for moving everyone across to the new form – OASIS V but it will be in the Autumn (2022). All users of the form in Scotland will be notified when an exact date has been set.  The existing DES form will remain open to report fieldwork undertaken in 2022 but we expect people to use OASIS V for the 2023 season.

Existing records in OASIS

The ADS will migrate the content of the existing form across just prior to switch over. So any records you have there will be accessible in the new form.

Registering to use the form

Users who are already using OASIS V in England will be unaffected by the migration, your Scottish records will be moved over into your organisational account and you will be told to use the new system only. Your OASIS IV records will be locked so they cannot be edited.

For users who are not yet using it, please be aware that OASIS V uses a completely separate registration to that the old system – this means that your old username and password will not be recognised. The preferred method is that users go to the registration page, sign up sign up and then “join” their organisation. When someone asks to join an organisation the OASIS Helpdesk gets a notification so they can authorise the request just in case of any accidents (e.g. joining the wrong account). This review and authorisation is normally quick, but until a request is approved you will not have access to an account or its records.

Any problems registering or logging on should be directed to the OASIS Helpdesk at where a member of the team will help and advise wherever needed.

Introducing the OASIS API

Model of a Connecting Rod – Rijksmuseum, Netherlands – Public Domain.

In March 2022 we quietly launched the first version of the OASIS REST API, which provides access to information about OASIS Projects via a RESTful API.

It is designed to provide programmatic access to OASIS Project information and its output is very similar to that of the existing “Export” function that can be found on the OASIS Projects list. Links to the API and documentation are below.

The API is available to all registered OASIS users, and gives you access to the records you can normally acccess in the system. So for example, an HER has access to all their HER records, a Unit has access to all their records and so on.

This is new territory for OASIS, but something that was specified as essential for increasing machine interoperability of OASIS metadata. We hope to be working with some partners to identify case studies of how and why the API has been used, and publicise these more widely. In the interim, if you are interested in using the API have a look at the documentation page linked above. Any problems or questions, then please contact the OASIS Helpdesk oasis@oasis

OASIS V: recent updates and new features

A craftsman working at his bench. Woodcut. – Wellcome Collection, United Kingdom – CC BY.

Since the launch of the new system the OASIS Helpdesk has received plenty of feedback from users. This has been a mixture of pointing out small bugs or glitches, or else requests for tweaks or additional features to help people with their workflows.

The most recent version of OASIS (deployed 16th May 2022) inlcudes a number of updates we hope that all users will find helpful. These include:

1 More features on the Search page

a)Ability to search on: Museum Accession ID, HER Event ID, HER monument number, Site code, Project Identifier.

b) Ability for HERs to search by review date, to help prioritise records that require more immediate attention.

c) Ability to filter out just records awaiting transfer to the ADS Library, or just those in the ADS Library.

d) Ability to filter on event type.

2 Archive messages bug

The link to this feature had a bug, which has now been fixed. You can now contact your local Archive or Museum whenever you want!

3 Notification email link bug

The link to the user profile section that was creating a 500 error has been fixed.

4 Cancelling on Activity page bug

A strange bug on the Activity page has been fixed. This was where where a user clicked cancel and the page either gave an error or saved the values within that session. This button should now clear any changes made in that session, return to the previous values entered, and not generate an error. This new code has been replicated on most other pages to deal with any other instances of ‘cancel’ causing issues.

5 Watched projects export with no selection causes error bug

This has been resolved, a user is now informed that they have not selected any projects to export.

6 Ability to batch unwatch

On the watched projects page, there is now a button at the bottom of the project list that allows you to batch unwatch seleccted projects.

7 Improvements to notifications + watches

Some major improvements have been made to the notifications: automatic notifications should now be sent for:

  • Reports transferred to ADS Library (with DOI link)
  • Digital Archive transferred to the ADS (with DOI link)

In addition, there has been some re-working of the “watch” function that determined who receives updates. Watches are now removed 40 days after the report has been transferred to the ADS library, or if no report exists 40 days after the review. However, the watch is re-established if additional reports are uploaded, or extra information is entered into the archives section. This is an attempt to keep people in the loop where they would need to know about important extra information, but not small things like typos.

8 Improvements to report page

Users have reported some problems with the status of the report page not reflecting a most recent action: for example the deletion of a report not resetting the core fields to incomplete. These were rare, but frustrating cases often caused by the form becoming out of sync with user actions. The code has been re-worked, and this page should be working much better!

9 File uploads (archives and reviewers page)

Users on the Archive page and the Reviewers Information page should now be able to upload a wider variuety of files: PDF, DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX

10 Results page

Frequent users will have already spotted that this has changed slightly over the last few months, with users asked if their project contributes to a Research Framework. Some extra work has gone into the page to better guide users on how to fill in if they answer “yes”. We’re still working with the relevant parties from the Research Frameworks to populate the questions.

11 Organisation details page

The ‘malformed XML’ alerts when users updated details has been fixed.

Say Goodbye to OASIS Images!

As many readers will be aware the a new OASIS system (OASIS V) is now in place. In preparation for this we have taken the decision to remove the OASIS Images function from the current OASIS IV system from the 1st of April 2021.

What! Will this make depositing more expensive I hear you say?

The simple answer is no! In fact we will be reducing our standard ADS-easy set up fee from £200.00 to £150.00 for all ADS-easy deposited archives so archiving will generally become cheaper.

For all archives submitted via ADS-easy from the 1st of April 2021 a set fee of £150.00 (exclusive of VAT) will apply. As as part of this set fee depositors will be able to deposit up to 150 jpg/tiff images at no extra cost. Additional files will then be charged on a per file basis according to our current per file charges.

How will I deposit my photos from 1st of April 2021?

From the 1st of April 2021 depositors just need to log into the ADS-easy system without having to follow the more complex OASIS Image login process from OASIS IV. OASIS IV will include a notification to let users know about the change.

Why now?

Continue reading Say Goodbye to OASIS Images!