What is dmBridge?

dmBridge is an integrated web page template engine, PHP API, HTTP API, and social content system for digital collections. It is currently structured as an "add-on" or abstraction layer over the CONTENTdm® digital asset management system.

dmBridge was developed to provide a stable base on which to implement a wide variety of intricate customizations for digital collections websites. To that end, it powers the web presence of all of UNLV Libraries' digital collections, including:

Additionally, dmBridge enables access to digital collections content from both web- and non-web-based custom software applications - a couple of which are currently under development at UNLV Libraries.

Template engine

The dmBridge template engine serves the same purpose as CONTENTdm's built-in template engine, with a different execution. The main goal of the template engine is to enable extensive customizations to page layout, style, and features. Dynamic, standards-compliant page templates can be constructed by non-programmer web designers while remaining isolated from the rest of the system. Within the templates themselves, dynamic (PHP) content is separated from static (HTML) content, and all content can be styled using cascading style sheets (CSS), the same as any other web page.

dmBridge leverages existing HTML/CSS knowledge and does not require any special templating languages or other expertise. For inexperienced designers, this means a shallower learning curve, and for advanced designers, it enables high-quality results that can be achieved more cleanly and in less time than working with the CONTENTdm® templates. Because the template creation process is standardized, a CONTENTdm® specialist is not needed.


The dmBridge HTTP API is a RESTful, versioned API that strives to be consistent with current best practices in REST API design. It supports XML, JSON, and JSONP output and clean, resource-based URIs. On every dmBridge site, this API is publicly exposed by default, allowing the public to build custom applications that use your digital collections in new ways. (Our API is here.)



A spatial metadata search & visualization tool that can be used to search for objects with spatial metadata, and display them in a Google Map in results view and object view.

Control Panel

The Control Panel is a central point of administration for the dmBridge system. It enables point-and-click changes to system-wide settings as well as settings for collections and template sets. It also serves as a central point for social content administration. Anyone who can log into the CONTENTdm® administration module can log into the Control Panel.


  1. Support high-quality, standards-compliant web delivery of digital collections in all necessary formats, to all web-enabled devices and applications, consistent with current best practices in web application design.
  2. Provide a clean framework for extensions to accommodate custom application development.
  3. Be easy to use by novices; yet set a fixed low bar (HTML/CSS knowledge) for development.
  4. Leverage available development expertise by requiring minimal pre-existing CONTENTdm® knowledge.
  5. Straightforward upgradeability by enforcing separation of concerns.
  6. Consistent with growing scarcity of institutional resources, the entire code base must be maintainable by one part-time developer.


(These presentations are out-of-date.)

Date Title Venue
Oct. 30, 2009 dmBridge at age one: Reinventing the digital collections web presence at UNLV Libraries 2009 CONTENTdm Upper Midwest User Group Meeting (Madison, WI)
June 4, 2009 dmBridge: a public access framework and alternative templating system for CONTENTdm 2009 CONTENTdm Western Users Meeting (Reno, NV)