An easy tool for creating digital scholarly editions

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Stefan Dumont

    Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften (BBAW) (Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities)

  2. 2. Martin Fechner

    Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften (BBAW) (Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities)

Work text
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The Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) is home to multiple long term research projects which encompass various fields of study. The research group TELOTA (The Electronic Life of the Academy) supports the digital humanities aspects of these projects, including developing software solutions for the daily work of their researchers.
Experience shows that although using TEI-XML encoding1 for the digital transcription and annotation of manuscripts can improve research in edition projects, the readiness to implement it greatly relies on the user-friendliness of the entry interface. From the perspective of a researcher, working directly in XML simply doesn't compare to the ease of programs like MS Word. A new software solution must therefore at least offer the same amount of editorial comfort as such programs. Ideally, it would also encompass the complete life-cycle of an edition: from the first phases of transcription to the final publication.
TELOTA developed such a software solution “ediarum”2, which can be adapted to the needs of different research projects. The solution consists of various software components that allow the researchers to construct and edit transcriptions of manuscripts and manuscript descriptions into XML following the TEI guidelines. Through editing and tagging manuscripts, a large quantity of digital data can be generated and is prepared for further research and presentation. The solution includes the possibility to create apparatuses of different kinds, as well as to create without much additional effort both a print and web publication.
The central software component of the new digital work environment “ediarum” is Oxygen XML Author3. The researcher does not edit the XML code directly, but instead works in a user-friendly Author mode, which is designed through Cascading Stylesheets (CSS). The researcher is able to choose more than one perspective within the Author view, and thus can select per mouse click the appropriate perspective for the current task. Additionally, a toolbar is provided with which the researcher can enter markup with the push of a button. In this way text phenomena such as deletions or additions, or editorial commentary, are easily inserted. Person and place names can also be recorded with their appropriate TEI markup, and in addition they can be simultaneously linked to the corresponding index. This is done through selecting the name from a convenient drop down list. The entire manuscript text can thus be quickly and simply marked up with TEI conform XML. All documents are stored in the open source database "existdb".4
Besides creating a digital work environment for “ediarum” in Oxygen XML Author, a website can also be built based on eXistdb, XQuery, and XSLT. Through the website the researchers can easily page through or search the current data inventory.
Through the intergration of ConTeXt5 into “ediarum” a further publication type, a print edition, can automatically be generated as a PDF from the TEI XML document. The layout and format imitates previously printed volumes of critical editions. Each TEI element must be given a specific formatting command through a configuration file. In this way the different apparatuses appear as footnotes that refer to the main text with the help of line numbers and lemmata. The print edition can also provide the suitable index for each transcription and solves any occurring cross references between manuscripts.
This work environment has been in use since 2012 by the staff of different research projects for their daily work. When asked their opinion, the researchers were in agreement that the new work environment greatly eased their editorial work and saved them significant time. The possibility to directly check the results of their work in a web presentation or as a printed edition was seen as an additional positive aspect.
Presently “ediarum” is used by the edition of letters, lectures and diaries of the German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher6; the description of medieval manuscripts of Aristoteles or the regesta of emperor Friedrich III. For each project the TEI XML schemata and main functions were customized to the different manuscript types and needs. In the future, “ediarum” will be implemented for further projects of the academy or other institutions, e.g. the edition of Jeremias Gotthelfs prints and manuscripts at the University of Bern (Suisse).

Fig. 1: Workflow of ediarum

Fig. 2: Customized TEI toolbar in Oxygen XML Author for the digital edition of Friedrich Schleiermachers letters, lectures and diaries

Fig. 3: Transcription of a letter in Oxygen XML Author

1. Burnard, Lou; Bauman, Syd (Hg.): TEI P5: Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange. Charlottesville, Virginia, USA 2007. URL:
3. User Manual Oxygen XML Author 14. URL:
4. eXist Main Documentation. URL:
5. ConTeXt Dokumentation. URL:
6. Dumont, Stefan; Fechner, Martin: Digitale Arbeitsumgebung für das Editionsvorhaben »Schleiermacher in Berlin 1808—1834 In: di giversity — Webmagazin für Informationstechnologie in den Geisteswissenschaften. URL:

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2014
"Digital Cultural Empowerment"

Hosted at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Université de Lausanne

Lausanne, Switzerland

July 7, 2014 - July 12, 2014

377 works by 898 authors indexed

XML available from (needs to replace plaintext)

Conference website:

Attendance: 750 delegates according to Nyhan 2016

Series: ADHO (9)

Organizers: ADHO