System requirements

Because it is browser based there are no specific hardware requirements for pastview, it can be accessed simply by any standard contemporary PC, tablet or smartphone. But it does have certain browser requirements to enable all the functionality that the system offers. pastview's minimum requirements for optimum experience are:

  • Chrome version 50 and above
  • Safari version 10.1 and above
  • Firefox version 50 and above
  • Internet Explorer version 11 and above
  • Edge version 21 and above
  • Chrome on Android 4 and above
  • Safari on iOS 10 and above

Image handling

Searching can be performed via two methods. A simple ‘keyword’ Google-style interface where the pastview system will look for the input text within fields that you can define. The second method is via a more advanced filter system whereby pastview will allow you to enter any specific values against any number of fields and then restrict/filter results with each new field and match found.
Our pastview system has been tested to work with images over 12000x7000 pixels in size at 300dpi. The System creates secondary, smaller images for use on the public website to keep loading times short, improve website performance and present images in the best possible manner for visitors.

The pastview system has been developed with the end user in mind. The end user may be an archivist, librarian, marketing executive or in fact anyone with a responsibility for managing and publishing digital content. There are ‘hints/tips’ on most screens within the system to offer guidance too.

The intuitive, in-built Content Management System means that all elements of the public facing website can be controlled from within the pastview system too. Plus, with an ability to quickly set-up users with different access levels we believe that the pastview system is one of the most user friendly systems on the market and provides very easy methods of access for both the public and staff.

There are three levels of access to the system.

The first is direct access to pastview via a username & password. A ‘super-admin’ will set up user accounts and grant roles and access rights to each individual user. The users of pastview are generally (but not limited to) members of staff and volunteers.

The second method of access to the collection is via a linked publicly accessible website. This website can be ‘open to anyone’ or password protected. All content displayed on the website is controlled by the users of pastview, and collections, categories and items can all be easily hidden from the website.

The third method of access is again via a website, however, access is controlled via IP Addresses. This has been setup specifically with ‘Reading Rooms’ in mind so that those who are visiting your building can have access to the full collection of content within the pastview system.

Most of our clients use Worldpay as their preferred payment gateway provider in order to take Credit and Debit Card payments. However, we can also integrate Paypal and most other major providers too.

We can incorporate different methods of image delivery such as pay-per-print, pay-per-download and paid subscriptions.

If you are looking to offer members of the public the opportunity to order prints of your images & content via your website then we can help.

Perhaps you have a fantastic photographic collection and you would like to offer members of the public the chance to order them at standard sizes such as 6x4, 7x5, 10x8. Or maybe you have an interesting journal, map or newspaper collection and you feel members of the public might want to order copies of pages up to A2 in size.

Townsweb Archiving Ltd can provide this print and despatch service for you. For a nominal fee we will locate the master high quality image, crop to the required size and print it using the very best Epson Print, Epson Inks and Epson Paper. We will also package and post the print, together with a delivery note and receipt, directly to your customer.

The selling price of the print is decided by yourself and will be calculated by adding together our nominal fee to the amount of profit you wish to make on each print. Any profit that you make will be deposited directly into your bank account every six months.

Alternatively, the profit can be credited against your account and can be used to subsidise any ongoing system, hosting or digitisation costs.

We take security very seriously and have a number of security measures in place, including:

  1. SSL (HTTPS://) encryption of all data sent to and from the pastview system
  2. one-way hashed and salted passwords for all user accounts for the system
  3. isolation of each customer’s files
  4. regular and ongoing installation of software updates on our dedicated server platforms
The pastview system stores the originally uploaded or imported file, and generates smaller images as required. This process ensures that we can always create high quality images that match the original image, and images of smaller dimension, but of equal quality.
30,000 images is not a problem. In fact, you can hold any number of images within the pastview system. We would generally allocate a certain amount of server storage space to your collection at the start of the project and allow contingency for growth of the image archive too.
Yes, the pastview system is mobile compliant and will work very well with the iPhone and iPad, as well as other smart phones and tablets. The system’s responsive design will recognise the device, and then resize and reform according to the screen resolution of the device that is accessing it. The front-end public website will be mobile and tablet compliant in the same way.

Data/user management

With pastview’s advanced database management features you are able to define any number of attribute fields and group them together into distinct sets of data, and assign them to your digital files. For example, you may decide that every file or image should contain a reference code, title and description, however it may be important that your photographic collection also records the photographers name, the date of capture and the GPS location of the scene. Whereas, for your newspaper collection it might be important to record the publishers name, the date of each publication and the OCR'd text for each page.

For those with database knowledge, the types of attribute that can be set up include text, free text, number, date, Boolean and list fields. Each attribute has it’s own title/label and description, which means you can define a full data-dictionary for your database. You can also define whether the attribute should be mandatory or not and if it should contain a default value, which will speed up your data entry.

Our pastview system has been tested to work with images over 12000x7000 pixels in size at 300dpi. The System creates secondary, smaller images for use on the public website to keep loading times small, improve performance of the website and present images in the best possible manner to visitors.

We use a batch import facility, which allows us to import large quantities of images and data when we set up a customer on the pastview system. Similarly, we have processes for processing and managing the import of data against these images. Whilst currently not available to users of the system, we are developing a new version of this facility. Importing images in this manner allows us to retrieve large quantities of images from the customer’s computer without the need to upload files individually.

Layout, content and field labels are controlled via the System's in-built content management system (CMS), and control how your pastview content is delivered to your Public Website.

With a touch of a button you can publish an entire collection to your website. Similarly you can hide collections or individual items from the website, perhaps whilst you and your volunteers are busy adding metadata to the content or whilst you are seeking copyright clearance for a collection.

You can also control how an item should be displayed. For example, if an item is part of a photographic archive then you will most likely want to display each photograph individually along with different metadata for each photograph. However, if the item is part of a collection of images such as pages from a book, then you will most likely want to group the items together and view them in sequence (page 1, page 2, page 3 etc.) and with the metadata applying to the entire collection of items. Again, this is achieved by simply clicking a button within pastview which will control how the collection is to be displayed and grouped within the main website.

Further features include the ability to define which attributes are to be included within ‘keyword’ and ‘advanced’ searches and also the ability to order and re-order the attributes so as to control their position next to each item on the website.

Our advanced CMS also allows you to easily update the content of each and every page within your website such as the About Us page, the Contacts page, Ordering Page etc. You can even link to external websites and add completely new pages to your site using a simple ‘Word Processor’ style interface (no knowledge of HTML required!).

pastview allows a large amount of customisation for the data. Combined with our template system, your public website can display your information in a multitude of different manners and there is no restriction on the number of times this can be changed once templates are set up.

Perhaps there are other organisations or departments (library, museum, archives, marketing etc.) that would like to contribute content to your digital archive? No problem. pastview allows users with top level privileges to set up other users of the system and provide them with certain roles, privileges and permissions. Obviously the same top-level users can reset passwords, amend privileges and delete users altogether.

Yes it does. The pastview System is a web-hosted solution, which means that can be accessed from anywhere that has an Internet connection.

Your users (staff, volunteers, researchers etc.) can access the system from work, home, or on the move.

Access to the system is via an Internet Browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox etc.).

Nothing is installed on your computer, server or network.


Our development process ensures that we can track all changes to our codebase. A mixture of development, staging and production environments allow testing of each piece of code in safety. By tracking all changes we can ensure that security and retention of data is at the forefront of the development process.
Our hardware platform is hosted on a 99.9% uptime guarantee.
We perform daily, weekly and monthly backups of the system, which are included at no cost. We also have the ability to perform ad-hoc backups of the data for any occasion that requires it.
System updates are a continuous process, which are included in the licence cost for pastview. We are constantly adding new functionality and improvements to pastview and most of these will be available to all licencees of the software. Where we have developed additional modules for pastview, availability of these will be evaluated on an individual basis.

TownsWeb Archiving Ltd have been providing digitisation and software services to the UK Cultural Heritage sector for more than 7 years.

We have a renowned reputation for offering a specialist digitisation service (scanning your photographs, newspapers, plans, manuscripts etc.) to the likes of Bank of England, MOD, Buckingham Palace, English Heritage, Royal Doulton, Cadburys and Marks & Spencer so so we feel we understand your unique image requirements in terms of preservation and accessibility better than most.

Our pastview system has been developed purely because our customers asked us to. They wanted a simple system that the handle all of their internal image requirements in terms of accessions, but also offer an easy and convenient way of showing off their content to the World.

Customers have been using our pastview System (and previous ArcView versions) for more than 4 years.

The pastview system is secured by industry standard 2048 bit encryption via SSL to ensure that all data is secure and protected. The SSL certification is identified with a golden padlock within the address bar of your browser. This high level of security matches or exceeds that of Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon.

Furthermore, we have implemented a facility which successfully mitigates the risk of ‘brute force’ attacks. A ‘brute force’ attack occurs when a hacker runs software that will try to log on to a system using every possible combination of characters in order to guess a password.

Training & support

We provide technical support via email and over the phone. Our support is offered during core business hours; Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
We have a huge amount of experience of digital imaging and software provision and we will gladly call upon this experience to offer friendly help, advice and guidance. This tends to be during the early stages of a project whilst you and your staff have a steeper learning curve. Of course within reason we will always be on hand to continue to provide advice (there is generally no limit).
Training is generally provided at your premises, as part of a pastview installation, and is delivered to all staff who will be using the system (and for whom we have provided licenses). Standard training generally lasts around half a day, but further additional training options are also available.
Unless urgent, we will generally provide seven days notice in relation to any necessary maintenance and this maintenance will be carried out during times of least activity.
As mentioned above, TownsWeb Archiving Ltd can provide a print and despatch service for you. However, we are also happy to recommend and provide scanners, printers and training in order for you to continue digitising your collection to the correct standards and formats, and then print them using fine quality materials that your customers will love. We have provided both scanners and training to a number of our clients.
pastview has a huge level of flexibility and this allows us to store a variety of data and options. Combining this with our enhanced templating system we can achieve such a high level of customisation that we can integrate designs as specified. Our design team are able to create a website design that is either bespoke to your needs, or based on your existing website design; whatever your design requirements we can meet and exceed them.
On acceptance of our costings and proposal we would supply you with our standard contract and T&C’s. After review and acceptance we will start the project. Fees will be payable at applicable points throughout the process.
  • The system must be accessible via the Internet
  • The system must be accessible via local and mobile devices
  • The system’s server must be available at least 99.9% of the time
  • The system should be secure
  • The images and content should be easily uploaded in to the system
  • The images and content should be easily uploaded in to the system
  • The ordering and payment processing should be secure and quick
  • There should be simple methods of increasing hosting space and the user base

TownsWeb Archiving Ltd have been providing specialist digitisation and software services to the Cultural Heritage Sector for almost a decade.

With clients such as Bank of England, English Heritage, Royal Doulton, Ministry of Defence, Royal Collections, Cadbury’s and Marks & Spencer, we have an enviable reputation of providing the very best and innovative service.

For example, we can digitise almost anything (photographs, newspapers, manuscripts, maps, film...) at almost any size and in almost any condition.

Our software solutions have been created purely with the intention of making your life easier when it comes to managing this digital content and making it accessible to a wider audience.

If you are looking for someone to handle your customers’ print orders , then we can help with that too.

Please visit this page to see a selection of our pastview (previously known as ArcView) clients:

We carry out a large number of digitisation projects each year (more than 100 per year). We visit many archives and each of them have their own requirements with regards to digitisation and accessibility. That being the case, we are constantly able to gain advice, knowledge and information from our more successful clients and pass this advice and information on to our prospective customers. Furthermore, we visit and exhibit at most seminars, exhibitions and conferences in relation to managing digital content. We are also often asked to provide white papers and talks at these events ourselves.

Our staff are also amongst the very first in the UK to gain Diploma’s in Digital Imaging from Bristol University.