SVG Visualization of TEI Texts

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Wendell Piez

    Mulberry Technologies, Inc.

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SVG Visualization of TEI Texts
One of the more interesting benefits of XML technology for
text processing has been the 'network effects' we get from using
different XML technologies together. For example, XSLT
proves to be suitable for a great range of tasks beyond simply
the routine formatting of texts for display in a browser or on
the page (the job for which it was designed): the investment
we make in learning XSLT to generate reading versions of our
XML texts also pays off many times over in enabling us to
perform other kinds of tasks such as extra-schema validation,
heuristic analytics of the markup or the text itself, and even (up
to a point) querying. Likewise, it proves easy to produce a wide
range of different kinds of output to represent the results of
these operations. An XML application such as SVG proves to
be a straightforward target for a transformation from XML data.
The resulting SVG graphics can be anything. For example,
graphs and bar charts of information captured in numerical data
sets and represented in XML are easy to create using
XSLT/SVG. But so are more arcane kinds of depictions of
source datasets or their features, including using SVG as a
display format for 'maps' of a document's structure.
This basic architecture, XML + XSLT -> SVG, has been
demonstrated repeatedly in both the commercial and academic
sectors in recent years (see Bibliography; several applications
by the author demonstrating the use of XSLT to create SVG
graphical depictions of various kinds are included (Piez 2000,
2002, 2003a, 2003b). There is nothing particularly innovative
at this point (late 2004) about this inexpensive and powerful
method of creating graphics. What has been explored perhaps
less deeply is what can be done with stylesheets generating
graphical depictions of specifically literary works, leveraging
descriptive tagging of the 'pure' kind (that is, tagging that has
been designed to reflect documents' logical organization,
without any particular renditions in mind). Not only are the
structures and features of such works of intrinsic interest to
students of literature; they can also serve as a diverse and
heterogeneous testbed for prototyping techniques of rendition
and visualization that could be used on other sources or indeed,
on other kinds of XML data. These techniques would be widely
applicable both to works of narrative or discursive prose and
to more highly structured literary texts such as verse and drama.
Earlier demonstrations of this approach make it clear that we
are now, with the maturation of XML technologies and the
increasing support of SVG in readily available tools (the Mozilla
development team has lately been implementing SVG for their
browser, and Adobe continues work on the technology as well),
in a position where we can perform these operations on a larger
scale. One of the features of the architecture is that a family of
documents marked up consistently with the same tag set (say,
TEI) should be processable with the same stylesheet. The
marginal effort required to create a graphic depiction of a new
text, consequently, is negligible when that text's tagging
conforms to a known and supported usage pattern (preferably
valid to a known DTD). In theory, it should be possible to
generate an entire library of graphics to represent a library of
texts, all with a single stylesheet.
The poster I am proposing for ACH/ALLC 2005 will present
the results of a set of experiments testing these ideas, applying
stylesheets (both extant and new) on a variety of texts from the
Women Writer's Project at Brown University (with their kind
permission and collaboration). This will have the twofold
purpose of exploring what kinds of visual representation of
these structures are most revealing, as well as testing to what
extent single stylesheets or small families of stylesheets can be
used across a document repository, to draw interesting and
revealing comparisons among texts. (It is quite possible that
per-document "'tuning'" of the presentation logic will be
necessary, through a customization layer, for best results; but
until we have tried the technique on a range of texts, we will
not know the extent to which stylesheet reuse is practical. This
extent may also vary between different stylesheets used to create
different sorts of graphics.)
Stylesheets developed for this poster will also be contributed
to the WWO (Women Writers Online) project, and made
available to the wider TEI community. Figure 1: Aphra Behn, "A Pindaric Poem to the Reverend Doctor Burnet"
(1689). An example of a free verse form Figure 2: Catherine Clive. "The Case of Mrs. Clive" (1744). An example of a
work in prose. Figure 3: Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke. "The Doleful Lay of the Fair
Clorinda" (1595). An example showing a regular verse form (sestets containing
Birnbaum, David J. "Analyzing and visualizing the structure
of medieval encyclopedic works with XML-related
technologies." Paper delivered at the Extreme Markup
Languages 2003, Montreal. August 2003.
Cagle, Kurt. SVG Programming: The Graphical Web. Berkeley,
CA: Apress, 2002.
Eisenberg, J. David. SVG Essentials. Sebastopol, CA, USA:
O'Reilly, 2002.
Mangano, Sal. The XSLT Cookbook. Sebastopol, CA, USA:
O'Reilly, 2002.
Mansfield, Philip A., and Darryl W. Fuller. "Graphical
Stylesheets: Using XSLT to Generate SVG." Presented at XML
2001. 2001. On line at <http://www.idealliance.o
Piez, Wendell. The Sonneteer: A demonstration of structured
form. . Accessed 2005-04-13. <http://sonneteer.xml>
Piez, Wendell. "SVG By Way of XSLT." Tutorial delivered at
Extreme Markup Languages 2001, Montreal. August 2001.
Piez, Wendell. "Visualizing XML document structure using
XSLT and SVG." interChange, the journal of ISUG (the
International SGML Users' Group) (December 2003): n. pag.
On line at <
Piez, Wendell. "XSL: Characteristics, Status and Potentials for
the Humanities." Presented at ALLC/ACH 2000, Glasgow.
July 2000. On line at <http://www.idealliance.or
Tennison, Jeni. Beginning XSLT. Birmingham, UK: Wrox
Press, 2002.

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Conference Info

In review


Hosted at University of Victoria

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

June 15, 2005 - June 18, 2005

139 works by 236 authors indexed

Affiliations need to be double checked.

Conference website:

Series: ACH/ICCH (25), ALLC/EADH (32), ACH/ALLC (17)

Organizers: ACH, ALLC

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None