- Edition Visualization Technology Project
With the establishment of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) and its straightforward guidelines, scholars and organizations have gained access to a useful and popular standard for creating digital editions. These guidelines have proven to be particularly helpful for researchers in the field of digital manuscript studies, not least because even people who are relatively inexperienced with coding languages can quickly learn the tagging process for marking up their own text. Yet while TEI is an approachable option for the creation of an edition, it does not offer standard ways to publish that edition or to leverage the full potential of the initiative’s customizability. Once a markup has been completed, many scholars must still turn to specialist assistance as they attempt to visualize and publish their edition, whether that be on a single device or on a website.
This situation may be about to change, thanks to the Edition Visualization Technology Project (EVT). The initiative is an offshoot of another project, the Digital Vercelli Book, an online digital edition of the tenth-century Codex Vercellensis, which is currently being developed by a team of student researchers at the University of Pisa, under the supervision of Professor Roberto Rosselli Del Turco. EVT’s goal is to create a lightweight, open-source tool that can bridge the gap between TEI markup and web visualization, and its user base would be editors and scholars who may not be familiar with web programming or do not have access to host resources for digital editions. At present, there are two versions of the tool: the first iteration, EVT 1, which is still supported and available for download; and EVT 2, which introduces new features but is currently in beta.
EVT 1 was specifically designed to give users the ability to create an image-based digital edition combining manuscript images and a TEI-encoded transcription. One of its most attractive features is its power to integrate images of the manuscript into a digital edition. Not only does it facilitate distribution of both the images and the edition to a wide audience of researchers, but it can be easily employed in an educational context—for example, in discussions on paleography or codicology. Particularly impressive is its image-text linking function, inspired by Martin Holmes’s Image Markup Tool, which highlights parallel lines in both the image and the TEI-encoded text. [End Page 340]
Unfortunately, EVT 1, while able to create a diplomatic and diplomatic-interpretative edition, cannot produce a critical edition of the text. For scholars who want to create traditional critical editions of texts rather than focus on the transcription of individual codices, this presents a crucial limitation. To remedy that issue, the creators developed EVT 2, which allows uses to construct a critical apparatus, a sources apparatus, a variant heat map, witness collation, and other features of the TEI parallel segmentation method allowing variants of a text to be expressed with an <app> element. We can see this critical edition in action in the experimental encoding of the Edizione Logica Avicennae, which encodes all variants of the text. (A sample edition extract was accessed through the EVT download.) Importantly, EVT 2 lets users customize their interaction with the witnesses; for instance, scholars may choose to access the different witnesses in a synoptic view or to focus on one witness and display the apparatus either within or separately from the text. In the case of the Edizione Logica Avicennae, the apparatus can also distinguish and separate variants that are orthographic in nature. (Of course, the encoding also makes this possible.)
Both EVT 1 and EVT 2 offer many customizable features, and I will mention a few that in my view have especially great potential. Available in both versions is support for named entities and integration of the VisColl software tool. This is important for two reasons. First, for ease of searchability, most TEI users avail themselves of the many possible tags for names of places, persons, and organizations. EVT offers them the possibility of displaying the editor-created lists of named entities on the eventual webpage, thereby establishing...