Living Atlases

An open community created around the Atlas of Living Australia platform.

Red Kangaroo, John Sullivan, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC) via


As GBIF nodes, one of our goals is to highlight our publishers and their data. To achieve this, the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) developed a huge open source platform with several modules re-usable by other organizations. Since 2013, the community around this tool has organized technical workshops to present ALA modules to other institutions that wanted to implement it, to improve already existing national data portals and to learn from each other’s achievements.

In order to help new users but also to keep on assisting the experienced ones, we try to arrange at least one workshop per year around specific modules of the platform (e.g. species module, spatial portal, etc.). These meetings are really motivating for new users because they can actually realise that, with some developments, they will be able to have a powerful tool running. And at the same time, these training activities are also very productive for partners with ALA portals already running as they have the opportunity to share doubts and ideas, solve technical issues, get assistance from the ALA developers’ team and -in consequence - move forward on the developments of their national data portals. Furthermore, during these technical trainings, we get ideas from other projects and allow the nodes to keep on working significantly on their own.

Thanks to the previous meetings and other engagements arranged around this topic, at least 11 data portals using ALA technology have been released in production since 2014. Other are still under development (some of them are already listed on the new GBIF web page). Katia Cezón from GBIF Spain created a Carto map showing countries with ALA installation or interest in the ALA infrastructure.

On this website, you will find documentation and information about participants and the community but also ALA tools. You will be able to access the materials from past events but also news about future events and different ways to directly talk with members of the community (through HipChat or mailing list).

You will also be able to see the community in action because we are a group of developers that love to work together and improve tools to facilitate a free and open access to biodiversity data.

Past and future events

You will find here an exhaustive list of all past & future events related to the community. Members have presented their works around ALA tools in different meetings or conferences through posters, talks and even workshops. In this page, we also highlight the launch in production of data portals based on ALA.

Slack Channel

Developers from the entire community can discuss through a channel Slack hosted by Atlas of Living Australia. If you have any issue or any question related to the installation, development or maintenance of ALA modules, here is the place to go!

ALA Mailing List

Suscribe to the ALA-Portal mailing list in order to ask any technical or non technical question to the community.

Documentation & Links


Some ALA modules have been translated in several languages using the Crowdin platform. Translation has been made in Spanish, Catalan, Basque, French and Portuguese. You can access the project through the ALA Crowdin project

ALA Key Technical Document

This document is a contribution from the Encounter Bay (ALA node portal internationalization) project, co-funded by the French, Spanish, Portuguese and Belgian GBIF Nodes and GBIF Secretariat through its Capacity Enhancement Support Programme.

It is intended to capture the essence of the technical documentation about ALA components necessary for evaluators/adopters to discover, assess, understand, install, configure, customize and operate the tools.

Version: English, French, Portugese, Spanish.


For each event, we try as much as possible to give access to all materials made by the members about the community or ALA's platform (talks, posters, videos): more information

Registry component

Atlas of Living Australia's module named "Collectory" is the registry component of the framework.
Through the administration tool, you will be able to publish datasets via the GBIF IPT, GBIF API or by directly publishing your DarwinCore Archive on your installation.
You will also be able to fill in metadata linked to institutions, collections, contacts, etc.
You will also have some public pages for each institution, collection or dataset you publish on your platform. There is also a search engine dedicated to datasets and another one to collections.

Link: Github folder


This is the biocache-backend. It manages the loading, sampling, processing and indexing of occurrence records into the system.

Link: Github folder.

Occurrence search engine

Generic-hub is the occurrence record search engine of the ALA platform using JSON data format. It is a web UI using Grails framework for a backend service called biocache-service.

Link: Github folder.

Spatial portal

The Spatial Portal focuses on where a chosen species was located, what species were found in a defined area and what are the environmental conditions in that area.
The spatial portal is divided in four different web applications: spatial portal UI (web portal), spatial analysis service, spatial layers service and spatial actions. They use web services to communicate with each other when necessary.

Link: Github folders.


BIE system is divided in two parts: BIE-inde and Generic-BIE.
The first one is a Grails web application that indexes taxonomic content in DwC-A and provides search web-service.
The second one is a front-end interface providing species pages and a search engine.

Link: Github folders.


ALA4R module allows the R community to access data and resources hosted on the platform. The goal is to enable outputs (e.g., observations of species) to be queried and output in standard formats.

Link: Github folder.


Living Atlases

Institution Country Language Status
Atlas of Living Australia Australia English Live
Canadensys Canada English & French Live
CRBio Costa Rica Spanish & English Live
GBIF Andorra Andorra Catalan Live
GBIF Benin Benin French Live
GBIF France France Live
GBIF Spain Spain Spanish Live
GBIF Sweden Sweden English & Swedish Live
GBIF Portugal Portugal Portugese Live
Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservaçao de Biodiversidad Brazil Portugese Live
NBN Atlas United Kingdom English Live
NBN Atlas Scotland Scotland English Live
NBN Atlas Wales Wales English & Welsh Live
NBN Atlas Isle of Man Isle of Man English Live
Sistema Nacional de Datos Biologicos Argentina Spanish Live
eElurikkus Estonia Estonian & English Live
Biodiversity Atlas Austria Austria German Under development
Field Museum USA English Under development
Vermont Center for Ecostudies USA English Under development
Philippine In discussion
Germany German In discussion

The community in action...


Want to have more information about the community?

You can register to the ALA community mailing list.

[Tip for developers] We have a public HipChat room where you can access and ask any question related to the Atlas of Living Australia platform and how to install it

The Living Atlases community