We’re very happy to announce that the the mbira community beta is now available to the public.  This beta release involves three components – two mobile first web templates (Halifax and Cusco) and the mbira authoring plugin. Its been a long road to get to this point in the project, and we’re very happy to share our work with the community of heritage institutions, archaeological sites and projects, and scholars interested in cultural heritage.

As with all other software developed at MATRIX, mbira is totally open source. You can find the code for all three components of this community beta on Github – the mbira authoring plugin, the Halifax web template, and the Cusco web template. If you are interested in playing with mbira, you can report bugs on our GitHub issue tracker (the issue tracker for the mbira authoring plugin can be found here).  Remember, while we’ve tested this release quite a bit, its still a beta and therefor will undoubtedly have bugs.  You can also follow us on twitter at @mbira_matrix.

You can find a guide to installing, configuring, and using the mbira authoring plugin here.  A similar guide for installing and configuring the two web templates included in this beta release can be found here.  All of the documentation was written by Ana Maria Silva (a PhD Candidate in History at the University of Michigan) as part of her Mellon Foundation funded internship at MATRIX last summer.  Ana (who can be found on Twitter at @anamsilva29) also developed Colonial Cartagena, an exemplar mbira-authored mobile heritage experience that allows people to explore historic port and fortress of Cartegena which has been designated UNESCO World Heritage site

If you are interested in receiving updates on the project’s progress, sign up for our mailing list (the form is on this website’s landing page).  If you are an heritage or archaeological institution or project interested in working with us to use mbira before its full public launch, you can hit us up on twitter, send an email to mbira@matrix.msu.edu, or sign up using the (other) form on this website’s landing page.

This community beta is the first (mostly public) step of the project.  It represents an opportunity to engage with the people, projects, and institutions who we think would be most interested in experimenting with mbira to build and sustain compelling mobile heritage experiences.  While this community beta represents a significant milestone for the project, we’re also very excited by the project’s roadmap…a roadmap that includes more features, more platforms, and more potential for rich and robust conversations around heritage places and spaces between scholarly experts, citizen experts, institutions, and the public.

We hope that you enjoy mbira and look forward to your feedback.