European Ocean Biodiversity Information System

IMIS web services

One of the main systems at the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) is the Integrated Marine Information System (IMIS). It contains interlinked information on: persons, institutes, publications, data sets, projects and conferences. All data is allocated to VLIZ (VLIZ core) and/or to one or more collections (special collections). It is possible to create a web (search) interface limited to a certain collection. A web service request on a site limited to a certain collection will only return results for that collection. Data input is done by a web input (publications) or via an access interface (other modules). Next to the search interfaces, IMIS data can be queried by web services. This document describes these web services.

All IMIS installations (pure PHP and Drupal module) allow the use of web services. Only public data is offered through these services. The base url depends on the installation type and either ends in 'imis.php' or the Drupal page title. Note that IMIS systems are case sensitive.

Modules (information type)

The wanted module type must be added in each search request by adding the parameter 'module'.
Possible values are listed underneath:

  • module=ref for publication retrieval
  • module=institute
  • module=person
  • module=dataset
  • module=project
  • module=conference

Data formats

The search results can be offered in different formats, for which html is the default. To use another than the default use the 'show' parameter. The available options also change the returned header type:

  • show=html default return offered in current website
  • show=json JSON format
  • show=xml XML format
  • show=rss RSS/ATOM format
Next to offering results and records in general formats as json and xml, records are also available in standardized data formats depending on the record type.


  • show=gcmd Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) XML format
  • show=eml Ecological Metadata Language (EML) XML format

Record details page

Each record in IMIS has its own (details) page. After a web service search request a list of items will be returned. For performance issues the information returned on the search request does not contain all available record information. To receive more info on a certain record another request, using the record id, must be performed. For an individual record request adding the respective module is not necessary as this is denoted by the given id.

  • /imis?persid=48 request for person with id 48, default format (html)
  • /imis?insid=36&show=xml request for institute with id 36, xml format
  • /imis?refid=106315&show=json request for a reference, json format
  • /imis?proid=4316&show=xml request for a project, xml format
  • /imis?dasid=52&show=xml request for a data set, xml format

Available search parameters

(Special) Collections

IMIS is divided up into special collections and all items can be linked to one or more. In principle one does not need to add a specific collection to a request as requests are already limited to the used website. Note that adding a collection will return the intersection of the given collection and the collection of the site used. To limit a request to a certain collection add the 'spcolid' collection.

Other parameters

Any search parameter offered on the IMIS web search is available for use in web services. A listing of all parameters goes beyond this document. However the available parameters per module can be retrieved by a specific, per module, web service request (returns JSON). Note that all parameters can only be used once in a request and that IMIS systems are case sensitive.

The returned array offers all available parameters with labels and search options if any. This should allow to create a specific search form if needed. A description (descr) has been added to explain parameter content and/or search type.

Each listed parameter can be used in the request string, followed be search text (&[parameter]=[text value]). However, if a limited list of options is offered the given id must be used in the request (&[parameter]=[id]).

Options without an id indicate an extra choice must be made. With dates it is possible that 'before', 'is' or 'after' must to be chosen. In that case the request string must contain two parameters : &[parameter]=[date]&option[parameter]=before

  • /imis?module=dataset&show=searchpars list all available search pars for data sets
  • /imis?module=ref&show=searchpars list all available search pars for references
  • /imis?module=dataset&show=search&BeginDate=01/2020&optionBeginDate=after search all datasets, with begin date after 01/2020


Search results for references and datasets are limited to 50. All results have a RowNum, to request the next 50 results use parameter 'start'.
The example underneath queries IMIS for all data sets related to 'scheldt'. In the first request 50 results are offered, the second request will retrieve the next 50.

  • /imis?module=dataset&show=xml&Field=sea
  • /imis?module=dataset&show=xml&Field=sea&start=51


Sorting options available for each module:

  • date: sort descending on (publication or start) date
  • title: sort alphabetically on title

Sorting options added for searching on literature:

  • ranking: sort descending on automatically awarded score (e.g. if search word is found several times in a record, it will receive a high score)
  • vol: sort ascending on volume, issue
  • page: sort ascending on pagination (starting page of article in book)
  • If no sorting is indicated, publications will be sorted alphabetically on reference string; projects, data sets and events on most recent first; institutes and persons alphabetically.

    The example underneath will return 50 datasets (due to paging), containing 'sea' in the title, abstract,... Results will be sorted on title alphabetically instead of most recent data set first.

    • /imis?module=dataset&show=xml&Field=sea&sort=title