Trip Report: Summer School Digitale Editionen 2008

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Event: Summer School "Digitale Editionen – Methodische und technische Grundfertigkeiten" of the "Zentrum für Mittelalterstudien" at the University of Cologne

Köln, 01.-05. September 2008

Participants MPDL: Ulla, Kristina


The summer school was a good mixture between theory and praxis. Beside an overview on term "digital edition" and methodologies how to put in practice, it provided practical tutorials on technologies for scientists to elaborate an digital edition, based on concepts of print versions. The focus was set on critical editions of text corpora, including various apparatuses and footnotes. Participants were mainly from universities/faculties and scientific organisations, with heterogeneous projects. (e.g. mediaval manuscripts, letters, "urkunden", "Kirchenbücher" etc.)

Interesting aspects for the "how-to":

  • keep it simple
  • define methodology (institutional backing? ressources? time? what kind of material? what is the aim of the editor, what are the expectations of users, how can they meet?)
  • What are the final deliverables? (online only? static or dynamic html? print version of complete or part of digital edition?)


  • HTML
  • CSS (separation of structure from presentation)
  • Character encoding
  • Digitalization
  • Recommended data formats are
  1. Tiff (for the original files)
  2. For compression: jpeg (not recommended for texts because it creates gray dots around the letters which can be seen in a high zooming), png, gif
  • Transcription
  • OCR
  1. Recommended OCR software: Fine Reader from Abby (can not read all Gothic print types)
  2. Google is currently working on an freeware

State of the art[edit]

  • Digital editions
  • specifics of a "digital edition" (i.e what is different to print edition):
    • focus on mediality
    • focus on tools => digital editions are generated with specific tools
    • change in media => change in methods of scientific work (?)
    • "a digital edition may present an edited text, among all the other texts it offers" (Patrick Sahle citing Peter Robinson. see more under e.g.
    • Erschliessung (indexing) is distinctive feature of digital editions. If no indexing is provided, it's mainly a copy of print version (faksimilie).
  • changes related to digital editions :
    • increasing contextualizing
    • Amnount of metadata and/or related information is irrelevant (in difference to print version)
    • contents and their deep indexing (annotations) are possible
    • pre-editions/post-editions can be integrated, each edition is part of textual tradition => edition projects become publication plattforms (cf. HyperNietzsche
    • various possible structures of text ( not only linearity)
    • change of media leads to "transmediality" => represenation (data) vs presentation (communication on data via various media) => differentiation on "Inhalt" and "Form" can be supported by generic mark-up languages.
  • Some nice examples of digital editions
  1. Caxton's Canterbury Tales (CD-ROM)
  2. The William Blake Archive
  3. Fontes Civitatis Ratisponensis Online
  4. Romantic circles (Example for "keep it simple": only static html, short texts)
  • Software Tools
  • For supporting the display of the material
  1. Classical text editor and Tustep are widely used, but do not support logical mark-up
  2. Versioning Machine (VM)
    xml can be edited by whatever editor, VM deals with display and comparison. Rules defined by VM have to be adhered to. For each version, "glossen" can be included)
  3. Anastasia by Peter Robinson
    xml can be edited by whatever editor, rules/procedures for display and layout have to be self defined. highly configurable, web-based. toolset (e.g.anastasia framework plus tool "collate" for digital edition)
  • For supporting the submission of the material
  1. EPPT (Edition Production and Presentation)
    includes x-tagger for freely defined tags, defined in dtd. desk-top client, open source.
  • XML Editors
  1. Oxygen
  2. XML Spy


  • XML
  • Is a meta language which describes the rules of markup languages
  • Well formed XML: follows the rules of XML
  • Valid XML: follows the rules of a schema
  • Some sub-languages
  1. XPath for navigation within XML documents
  2. XSL:eXtensible Style Language
    • XSL-T(Transformation): transforming xml documents in html
    • XSL-FO(Formatting Objects): transforming xml documents in print versions like pdf
  • TEI (Text Encoding Initiative)
  • TEI has more than 400 elements which are grouped in several thematic modules (see TEI Guidelines)
  • TEI allows the creation of schemes