Welcome to the sandbox version of Textual Communities 2.0 ("TC"), at https://textualcommunitiessandbox.org (do not use the previous address at http://textcomtest.usask.org). For the differences between the sandbox and production version (at https://textualcommunities.org) see the differences between the versions.
If you just want to see what TC can do: go to the Canterbury Tales project at https://textualcommunities.org/. If you want to learn the principles behind TC, read the launch statement given at the 2018 ADHO conference in Mexico City, at https://wiki.usask.ca/pages/viewpage.action?spaceKey=TC&title=Creating+and+Implementing+an+Ontology+of+Documents+and+Texts.
Creating or joining a community
Your first document: an XML file
<?xml version="1.0" ?>
<p>Draft for Textual Communities site (spelling modernized)</p>
<pb n="130r" facs="FF130R.JPG"/>
<div n="Book of the Duchess">
<lb/><head n="Title">The book of the Duchesse</head>
<lb/><l n="1">I Have great wonder/ be this light</l>
<lb/><l n="2">How that I live/ for day nor night</l>
<lb/><l n="3">I may nat slepe/ wel nigh nought</l>
<lb/><l n="4">I have so many/ an idel thought</l>
<lb/><l n="5">Purely/ for default of sleep</l>
<lb/><l n="6">That by my truthe/ I take no keep</l>
<lb/><l n="7">Of no thing/ how it cometh or goth</l>
<lb/><l n="8">Ne me is no thing/ leief nor loth</l>
<lb/><l n="9">Al is y like good / to me</l>
<lb/><l n="10">Joy or sorrow / where so it be</l>
There are a few things to note about this file:
- "Content" elements with "n" attributes (<l n="1">) are especially important to TC. TC uses these to identify all content sections. Thus: the first line is labelled by TC as "div=Book of the Duchess:l=1", and TC then uses this identifier to locate all versions of the first line in every document
- Note the explicit use of <lb/> elements to mark each document new line. TC uses the implicit hierarchy of page, column and line breaks (<pb/> <cb/> <lb/>) to construct a "text-tree" for each document, alongside the "text-tree" it creates for the hierarchy of <div> and <l> elements.
Adding more documents, adding images
- Click on the "Add Image" button in the top-right pane, or the camera icon beside the page number "130r". You will get a box inviting you to choose an image file or drop it onto the dialogue. Choose FF130R.JPG from the sample files, or from FF130R.JPG.
- You can load multiple images by putting them all in a folder, zipping the folder, and then clicking on the ZIP icon next to the manuscript name. Choose FairfaxImages.zip from the sample files (or here, FairfaxImages.zip).
- You can load images from a IIIF manifest. See below.
Add another document by clicking on the + icon in the left hand pane. Again, choose the "XML file" option, this time add "Bodley.xml" from the sample files (or from Bodley.xml), with the name Bd. The image for this page is at BD110V.JPG
Adding a document from an IIIF manifest
One of the most exciting developments in manuscript studies over the last years is the rise of IIIF: the "International Image Interoperability Framework" (http://iiif.io). This has the promise of revolutionising how we look at manuscripts. Digital manuscript images have been around for over twenty-five years now: I actually wrote a book about it, as long ago as 1993: The Digitization of Primary Textual Sources (Office for Humanities Communication). However, for many years high-quality manuscript images were comparatively rare on the internet: to be found in boutique digitization projects, or as prototypes for something which never arrived. Several factors stood (it appeared) in the way of the mass digitization of manuscripts which I (and others) anticipated. One was the cost of the digitization process itself, in terms of special equipment for taking, handling, storing and distributing the images. Another was the high cost of specialist software systems for organizing and displaying the images. A third was the reluctance of libraries to allow high-quality manuscript images to go out on the web, free-to-all.
The first of these factors (the costs of physical capture and handling of the images) has been eliminated by the extraordinary advances of technology: even our phones now take higher-resolution images than the first digital cameras. The second and third factors is where IIIF has had an extraordinary impact. For the second: IIIF is all three of a standard, a set of software protocols, and the software itself. Thanks to a remarkable community of developers, archive and library staff and many others, IIIF allows institutions with few resources to organize their images, put them online, and have anyone view them. For the third: IIIF, like the web itself, distributes itself everywhere: in libraries, on desktop and tablet computers, on your mobile phone. From its foundation, the ethos of IIIF has been that of the web at its best: good things come from giving good things away. Accordingly, IIIF has open data at its heart. And not just at its heart: in its design. The core of IIIF is a "manifest": a highly-structured file which lists images together with the instructions for their viewing, in such a way that suitable software can read the file and show the images in your web browser just as the maker of the manifest intends. It does not matter where the server which holds the images are: if you have the manifest, you can see the images anywhere.
In the ideal world, there would be digital images of every manuscript, and a IIIF manifest for every set of manuscript images. You would simply point your browser at the manifest for any manuscript you want to see, and hey presto. We are not quite there yet!
However, TC aims to be as IIIF compliant as it can be. All images you see on the TC site are actually held on a IIIF server, and TC uses manifests internally to manage and show the images. Later, TC will make these manifests available, so that you can import the images easily into your own website. In the meantime: TC allows you to add a document from a IIIF manifest. Thus:
- Click on the icon in the left panel, to add a document
The Add Document dialogue appears, with the choice "IIIF":
- Click on IIIF, and it brings you this dialogue:
- So, if you follow the hint and go to https://www.e-codices.unifr.ch/en/searchresult/list/one/fmb/cb-0048 you will find this page, on the marvellous eCodices site:
- Next to the https://www.e-codices.unifr.ch/metadata/iiif/fmb-cb-0048/manifest.json logo you will see the manifest address:
Drop or paste that address into the "Add document from IIIF manifest" dialogue, give the document a name, and press thebutton
- Watch magical things happen! the whole manuscript appears page-by-page in the left hand window, with superb high-resolution images. Just like that. Thus:
So easy! all we need is for all the world's archives to adopt IIIF and allow everyone free access to their images with IIIF. If only...
This brief introduction gives only a glimpse of the power of the Collation Editor. Try the following, for example:
- Go back to one of the documents, change line 1, commit the change (this writes it to the database used by the collation), and return to the collation. You will see your change there.
- Now, for fun: go to the second page of Ff (130v) and have line 38 continue from the previous page onto this page and add something to it. Hint: change the "From previous page" value:
- You can invite other people to become members of your community (click on the "Members" link when you have chosen your community, or on the "Member profile" item on the log-in menu) and follow the "Invite" link
- You can change the status of any member, assign them pages to transcribe, check the progress of the transcription, assign them someone to approve their transcripts (the "Members" link for each community you lead)
- You can permit other people to join your community without need of your approval, or require that anyone who wants to join must be approved by you ("Member profile" on the log-in menu)
Some interesting features of TC
- TC is built on an explicit ontology of texts, documents and works. Various of my publications describe this ontology (see https://www.academia.edu/12297061/Some_principles_for_the_making_of_collaborative_scholarly_editions_in_digital_form; https://www.academia.edu/9575974/The_Concept_of_the_Work_in_the_Digital_Age_published_version_; https://www.academia.edu/3233227/Towards_a_Theory_of_Digital_Editions; https://wiki.usask.ca/pages/viewpage.action?spaceKey=TC&title=Creating+and+Implementing+an+Ontology+of+Documents+and+Texts). Briefly: TC sees text as a collection of leaves, with all leaves present on two distinct trees, each of which conforms precisely to the "OHCO" (ordered hierarchy of content objects) model. One of the trees represents the document (codex/quires/pages/columns/lines). The other tree represents the act of communication ("entity") inscribed in the document: as Play/Scenes/Acts/Lines, or Poem/Stanzas/Lines, etc. Note that this is not simply a matter of "overlapping hierarchies", as usually characterized. It is actually two quite distinct trees: distinct to the point that branches and their leaves might appear with quite different orders on the two trees (as in the case of notes or alterations spanning across the margins of multiple pages, etc.) Broadly, TC uses the 'document' tree to display the document page by page, line by line, and TC uses the 'entity' tree to locate units of text across multiple documents for collation.
- Theoretically: there is no limit to the number of trees structuring every text. TC supports two. Best of British luck to whoever wants to deal with more than two.
- TC uses a IIIF server and viewer software (http://iiif.io/). We can import whole sets of IIIF images.
- We would like to be obsolete very very soon. Someone please do this better than we did.