Archifiltre owes its existence to a call for proposals challenging young developers to suggest innovative projects for use in government agencies. The challenge we suggested was among those accepted, with the result that, between January and November 2018, we were able to work with two engineers, one a developer, the other a data scientist, as part of the French government’s EIG scheme (entrepreneurs d’intérêt general), a programme designed to harness the talents of rising stars in the digital technology world and facilitate public sector applications.
As archivists, this meeting between two different professional worlds was an extraordinary opportunity to rethink how we handle office system documents, reconsider our long-entrenched habits and take advantage of input from two engineers whose expertise opened up new vistas regarding how best to equip archivists and record managers for their encounters with tree structures. During our early exploratory phases, we came up with a mission statement for our project in the form of a question: “How can large quantities of data be examined and stakeholders helped to grasp its content and save time?”
Our mission therefore had the dual target of devising a user-friendly tool to prepare material for transfer and finding a means of helping archivists who have to advise producer agencies on how best to manage their storage facilities (shared or individual).
The first part of the development process consisted of providing ArchiFiltre users with a file tree display showing the depth, complexity and sheer volumes involved by means of a tool named “Stalactites”.
User feedback, in particular feedback from OpenLab collaborative workshops, regularly provides us with useful input for adding new functionalities to help archivists in their work: zooming in on elements, tagging, adding comments, renaming, exporting in a variety of formats (csv, json, METS).
Since 2019, the project has continued as a government-sponsored start-up within the “Fabrique” (Factory) incubator run by France’s social sector ministries. To discover more about the project and its latest developments, go to Twitter @ArchiFiltre, or to https://archifiltre.fabrique.social.gouv.fr/ or check out the video presentations on (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClDwrT-Y1NY9WnEiXLMHp6w). Archifiltre is a free tree viewer software available in three languages (English, French and German).
Anne Lambert and Chloé Moser