Archive for December 2010

Digital Editing

16 December 2010

The last few weeks have seen a real leap forward for our website and the way in which we will in the future edit and publish editions of texts and other material. You’ve probably not noticed because most of this work has been done behind the scenes, as it were, by our technical team at CCH, King’s College, London. To coincide with a presentation at our Digital Editing workshop on 18 November, the team developed a new content management system which enables the research team to edit the static content on the live website. What does this actually mean to those of us whose technical knowledge is still confined to sending and receiving emails? Well, this content management system, or database to you and me, replaces the TEI-based publication system and it requires no technical knowledge of xml or html. Instead, it uses highlight and click functions in much the same way as Microsoft Office programmes such as Word or Access. 

The system was first developed for our bibliography and it allowed us to enter text, which could then be highlighted and marked up for author, title of article or monograph, date of publication, subject and so on – information that allows visitors to our website to use the bibliography and to filter or search it according to their own interests. Now, the system has been expanded to include all content on the site and also future materials like manuscript images and editions of specific law codes.

Not only is this system much simpler to use and allows the research team to directly create and edit pages and publish them on the live site, but, in addition, it makes it easier for us to collate and enter information about different texts and manuscripts. For instance, in the last six months I have been trawling my way through our large number of manuscript images, matching each folio to a text and also to the correct page number in the older editions of the laws by Liebermann and Stubbs. This data will eventually enable users to look at and compare specific paragraphs of a law text. Initially, the information was simply entered on an Excel spreadsheet, which then had to be emailed over to the technical team and converted to fit the system; now, however, data can be entered directly, thereby making quite an efficiency saving.

I should perhaps acknowledge the months of hard work that our colleagues in CCH have put in to make the new system work. I’m certain they could tell a different story about all this simplicity!