Definition and Purpose of a Profile

An installation profile is a document that tells CollectiveAccess how to set up various aspects of the system at the time of its installation. The profile enables you to configure nearly every aspect of the various cataloging interfaces in CollectiveAccess before you begin using the system. After installation, you can easily make additional changes using the tools in the “Manage” menu, but it’s usually more efficient to set up your installation in such a way that it meets your requirements from the start. Installation profiles:

  • Generate and define controlled vocabularies

  • Define and label metadata fields

  • Specify the method of metadata entry (e.g. a text entry field or a drop-down menu)

  • Bundle the fields together for easy metadata entry

  • Combine metadata elements on different screens for workflow management

  • Delineate and describe the relationships between all of the various types of objects, entities, occurrences, lots, sets, etc. in your system

  • Set the logins for different user types

  • Configure the display of search results and data exports.

  • Create standards-compliant set-ups

Installation profiles “live” in the ‘install/profiles/xml’ folder located in the directory where you loaded the software on your computer or server. When you first log in after installing CollectiveAccess, you’ll be asked to select one of the saved installation profiles in the “XML” folder, which will then be used to complete the installation process. In Providence, many pre-defined profiles are available, ranging from standard schemata (see Metadata Standards) to custom set ups created for and by organizations world wide (see Configuration Library).

Creating a Profile

Profiles are written using an XML-based syntax. Typically no profile is created from scratch, but rather users modify existing profiles to meet their needs.

Troubleshooting Profiles

Installation profiles are often long and complex text documents. It’s easy to make mistakes that cause the installation process to fail or deviate from requirements. You can make errors much less likely by validating your profile against the profile syntax XML schema. The schema is located in install/profiles/xml/profile.xsd. Simply copy the schema to the same directory as the profile you are editing and use a validating XML editor such as OxygenXML. The editor will highlight mistakes as you type and point you to the location of the errors.


The CollectiveAccess installer will validate your profile against the schema before proceeding with installation, so if a profile doesn’t validate during editing it won’t be accepted by the installer. The bottom line: always make sure your profile validates!

Changing the installation profile of an existing system

An oft-asked question is “I installed my system using installation profile X. How can I now change it to Y?” The answer is you can’t. Installation profiles are simply collections of rules (or templates, if you prefer) for the installer to follow when setting up a new system. Once the installation process is complete the profile ceases to play a role. You can continue to modify the configuration of your system using the web-based configuration tools, creating an installation different from the profile that originally created it. If you really need to change an existing system to conform to a new profile you have two choices: (1) modify the existing system by hand using the web-based configuration tools to match or (2) reinstall from scratch with the desired profile. In the latter case you will lose all existing data, of course.