Francophone mentoring and translation of the open-source ALA platform


Since its establishment in 2006, Canadensys has published more than three million occurrence records, with an emphasis on digitizing specimens from the biological collections of its powerful national open-data network of universities, museums, ministries and other organizations. While Canadensys Explorer, its flagship application, succeeded in its goal to make Canadian biodiversity data freely and openly accessible to all, the system has reached its limits, so in 2016 Canadensys began exploring the adoption of open-source infrastructure originally developed by GBIF’s Australian node, the Atlas of Living Australia.

The main goal of this technical mentoring activity between GBIF France and Canadensys was to encourage collaboration and to share accumulated technical knowledge at GBIF France with Canadensys in order to facilitate the installation of the ALA-based platform at Canadensys. Since June 2017, the project has delivered on the following key objectives and activities:

Documentation supporting the ALA has been translated into French, greatly increasing the visibility for the French-speaking nodes. The new ALA Explorer has helped to increase the number of occurrences, datasets, collections, institutions and data providers. Canadensys also sucessfully installed an image module and finalised its wiki page in April 2018. To assist users with the new ALA-based explorer, the project has developed a series of tutorials to explain some of the basic functions of the module. This development of Canadensys provided the necessary leverage for a successful application to Compute Canada for the migration to their Cloud resources. The full migration is currently being finalised, and the basic modules should all be available and functional on the Cloud by the end of September 2018.

Support for the new platform has been strong with more than 4 million entries achieved last year. The project will continue to develop the use of the new ALA platform beyond the scope of this original project through a new Capacity Enhancement Support Programme which will allow training of users on the ALA and GBIF data portals in 2018 and 2019. GBIF France, in partnership with Canadensys and other members of the ALA community, is also planning a technical workshop on the ALA framework and tools in Paris for 2019.


Organization Role
GBIF France Leader
Canadensys Co-coordinator & co-founder