DSE Visualisation with EVT: Simplicity is Complex

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Roberto Rosselli Del Turco

    Università  degli studi di Torino

  2. 2. Chiara Martignano

    Università di Pisa

  3. 3. Chiara Di Pietro

    Università di Pisa

  4. 4. Giulia Cacioli

    Università di Pisa

  5. 5. Angelo Mario Del Grosso

    Istituto di Linguistica Computazionale (ILC) (Institute for Computational Linguistics) - Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR)

  6. 6. Simone Zenzaro

    Università di Pisa

Work text
This plain text was ingested for the purpose of full-text search, not to preserve original formatting or readability. For the most complete copy, refer to the original conference program.


Edition Visualization Technology (EVT) is an open source tool to produce digital scholarly editions on the basis of TEI XML-encoded documents. Born to serve the goals of a single project, the
Digital Vercelli Book (Rosselli Del Turco, 2017), it has been developed in such a way as to become a general purpose tool. Several DSE projects are using it to publish digital editions (Humarec Project; Salvatori, 2014), in fact many researchers have found in EVT the perfect tool for their needs: it is easy to configure and deploy, it is fully customizable, it includes several useful research tools out of the box.

The current development version (
EVT 2) is based on the
AngularJS programming framework, which it is especially suitable for the development of complex client-side Web applications since it supports the Model View Controller design pattern, a very popular architectural pattern that separates the data of the application domain, its visualisation, and the user interaction with the data and the view (Krasner and Pope, 1988).


At the present moment EVT is available as a
usable beta version, and a fully functional release is due in 2019. The forthcoming release will include all the features present in the original version (EVT 1), i.e. support for diplomatic editions, text-image linking, a sophisticated image viewer, a powerful text engine, and more. At the same time, the support for critical editions - which was the starting point for EVT 2 (Di Pietro and Rosselli Del Turco, 2018) - will be further improved thanks to the feedback received from many interested scholars.

EVT 2 first beta version

Current and future developments
In 2005, describing the DSE as a dynamic device, P. Robinson implicitly alluded at the complexity of building such a software tool (Robinson, 2005). In fact, at the end of the first development cycle we discovered that, in spite of our search for flexibility, the base framework (XSLT 2 transformations and a Javascript-based front-end to navigate the edition) wouldn’t allow further extension. The current development version, on the other hand, while much more flexible from a technical point of view, presents challenges on multiple levels:

Design. EVT must be able to combine standardized representation and publication with the peculiarities of each edition: this is a very complex task considering the great variability of TEI XML, in fact the same encoding may have different interpretations and the same interpretation may have different encodings. Significant variation of the data to be processed requires great flexibility by the processing software.

Implementation. The original AngularJS framework has been replaced by a vastly improved new version, simply known as
Angular, which is incompatible with the former. Upgrading to Angular
would solve some efficiency issues present in the current AngularJS-based version, and make available all the recent improvements.

Furthermore, EVT has always been based on a client-only architecture, which is great to keep technical complexity at a minimum, making it very easy to publish and maintain a web-based digital edition. This is also a limiting factor, however, when it comes to advanced features such as user annotation of text and images, search engine, and heavy-load textual processing. Adding client-server functionality would solve this dilemma, but this is a complex task which requires appropriate planning, support and funding in order to be carried out.

User Interface. This is probably the area that needs most attention.

Handling of heterogeneous materials. Text and images are directly visible in the UI, while other materials, such as introductory text, lists of witnesses, critical apparatus entries, named entities, links between text and image are displayed on request. Their presence, however, must be reported in the UI and must be easily accessible. The text can be consulted in the traditional way, i.e. sequentially, or different parts of the text and different materials can be consulted in parallel. Each possible combination has its own display mode, designed specifically to enrich that type of interaction with the text.

Designing graphic solutions suitable for the digital context but in line with the conventions of printed editions. The simultaneous presence of text in both diplomatic and critical editions requires both careful planning of navigation and special care in identifying those graphic solutions that allow us to represent these conventions without overburdening the UI.

Complexity in finding the right compromise between web design principles and traditional layout. The UI should be innovative, but not so far from the conventions of traditional editions as to require a learning effort that is too high.

In this poster we will present and discuss the complexity of developing a sophisticated tool such as EVT, explaining the design principles and the methodological aspects at its base.



Boschetti, F. and Del Grosso, A.M. (2014). TeiCoPhiLib: A Library of Components for the Domain of Collaborative Philology.
Journal of the Text Encoding Initiative, Issue
8 | December 2014 - December 2015.

Di Pietro C. and Rosselli Del Turco R. (2018). Between innovation and conservation: The narrow path of UI design for the DSE. In R. Bleier, M. Bürgermeister, H. Klug, F. Neuber, e G. Schneider (eds.),
Digital Scholarly Editions as Interfaces. Schriften des Instituts für
Dokumentologie und Editorik 12. Norderstedt: Books on Demand.

EVT Team (2014-). Home page for the project:
. Source code repository:

Humarec Project. Humarec Manuscript Viewer - Marciana Gr. Z 11 (379):

Krasner, G. and Pope, S. (1988). A Description of the Model–View–Controller User Interface Paradigm in the Smalltalk-80 System.
Journal of Object Oriented Programming,
1 (3): 26-49.

Robinson, P. (2005). Current issues in making digital editions of medieval texts—or, do electronic scholarly editions have a future?
Digital Medievalist,
. “The layers of footnotes, the multiplicity of textual views, the opportunities for dramatic visualization interweaving the many with each other and offering different modes of viewing the one within the many—all this proclaims ‘I am a hypertext: invent a dynamic device to show me’.” § 12.

Rosselli Del Turco R., Buomprisco G., Di Pietro C., Kenny J., Masotti R., and Pugliese J. (2015). Edition Visualization Technology: A Simple Tool to Visualize TEI-Based Digital Editions.
Journal of the Text Encoding Initiative, Issue
8: 1–21.

Rosselli Del Turco, R. (2017).
The Digital Vercelli Book. A facsimile edition of Vercelli, Biblioteca Capitolare, CXVII. In Collane@unito.it,

Salvatori, E. (2014).
Codice Pelavicino. Edizione digitale. Università di Pisa.


If this content appears in violation of your intellectual property rights, or you see errors or omissions, please reach out to Scott B. Weingart to discuss removing or amending the materials.