New paper on our software to manage sound archives

The paper describing our software Pumilio has just been published in the Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America. Pumilio is a web-based sound archive and analysis tool.

Pumilio was created out of necessity. Our lab was collecting a lot of sound data and there was no system that could help us manage that amount of data. In addition, we used at least two operating systems (Windows and Linux) and some collaborators even use Mac. On top of that, some of us used Chrome, while some used Firefox. We started just putting files in folders in a network share. After a few hundred files there is no way of keeping track. Plus, we were wasting time each time we had to open a file in Audacity or Raven to see its spectrogram.

One of the first instances of this system was a simple database that would display rows of spectrograms with a Flash mp3 player on the bottom of each. Similar to the “gallery” view of the current version of Pumilio. The problem was generating all those spectrograms. Using R was easy, but took too long to write the png files. The function specgram() in Python crashed with our files (15 minutes). After a while, I stumbled upon a Python script written by the people of This was a very fast script and I took it and implemented it.

Afterwards it was all step by step. A JavaScript plugin built to crop images over the web became a selection tool for zooming in a sound and filtering.

The main idea is to make it easy to navigate a sound archive using any modern computer. This means using cross-browser tools to allow the use of any modern browser. Blueprint enables a consistent CSS, JQuery takes care of most of the JavaScript and some of the styling.

Screenshots of Pumilio:

Main Menu

Browsing the archive

All the data of a sound file

The software is available for free under an open source license from the project website.

Villanueva-Rivera, Luis J. and Bryan C. Pijanowski. 2012. Pumilio: A Web-Based Management System for Ecological Recordings. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 93:71–81. doi:10.1890/0012-9623-93.1.71PDF. Full textPumilio Website.

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