In 2018-2019, DARIAH focussed on the chronic problem of software and tool sustainability in the digital humanities, while also looking forward to the build phase of the Marketplace for data, tools and services. The DARIAH Theme call of 2018-2019 entitled ‘Strategic Service Sustainability for DARIAH’ attracted a high number of well articulated and competitive applications in the area of training, standardisation, datasets, geolocation and annotation services, thesauri and vocabularies, among others.
With an overall budget of 67,305 €, DARIAH funded six projects for a year. Over the next couple of weeks we will be presenting their results with a special focus on each of these six projects.
Standard Sustainability: Improving the Usability of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI)
Project team: Marjorie Burghart, Conal Tuohy
The aim of this project was to develop an open source editor jEdit as TEI-aware and TEI-friendly, in order to offer a basic but viable alternative to commercial software for students learning to encode in TEI and also scholars with simple needs and low financial resources.
The outcome of this work is a TEI plugin for jEdit, written in java, as well as a new upgraded version of the existing XML plugin. Both are currently available with their source code on the developer’s personal github account: https://github.com/Conal-Tuohy/jEdit-TEIPlugin
One major feature of the new TEI plugin is that it takes benefit from the “oXygen XML Editor frameworks for TEI” package developed and maintained by the TEI Technical Council. Initially created for Oxygen, this package bundles together various customisations of the TEI schema, boilerplate files for these customisations and the TEI stylesheets.
The latest version of the oXygen package is embedded in the TEI plugin, and the project team implemented an update mechanism: when a new version of the package is released by the Technical Council, it is downloaded and updated automatically, if the user agrees to the update. In the plugin options, the user can choose to update automatically or not, and specify the URL of the package to download.
The templates allow the user to instantly create boilerplate files corresponding to the most common customisations of the TEI schema.
- Schema validation – XML Processing instructions
Thanks to the bundled TEI schemas, a TEI file can be validated against its TEI schema. The validation is made against the local versions of the RelaxNG schemas, which means the plugin can be used to work when there is no network connection – a situation which may occur during workshops with students.
A new and important development of this project is that the upgraded version of the jEdit XML plugin is now able to parse and validate an XML file according to the XML processing instructions embedded in the file. This is how Oxygen, a very widely used editor in the TEI community, also links the TEI files to their schema.
- Schema-aware tag suggestion / completion
Another advantage of the bundled schemas in the TEI-aware suggestion of allowed tags as soon as the user types an opening pointy bracket.
The project team added another feature, allowing the users to first select a passage of text, and wrap it in a TEI tag. Selecting a passage of text and clicking on “XML insert” in the TEI toolbar opens a dialog box, where the user can select a tag among those allowed at this particular place.
- A few ergonomic features
Besides those main features, the TEI toolbar has 4 other buttons of lesser importance, but designed to enhance the experience of users.
- “Go to matching tag or bracket” allows you to easily jump to the opening or closing tag of an element, when you are positioned on the matching tag.
- “Select Between tags” selects the whole contents of the element, leaving out the tags.
- “Split tag” splits in two the element in which the caret is positioned. This feature can be very useful when you are encoding items in a list, for instance.
- “Indent” does just what its name announces, making the XML prettier and easier to read. This particular feature was not added to jEdit, but this button makes it easier to access it (1 click instead of 3).
Installation and Sustainability
This plugin can easily be installed through the jEdit’s plugin manager and its code can be found at the TEI Consortium github account, which will improve both the sustainability and visibility of the tool.
There are plans from the project team to fund a second campaign of development in 2020 from own resources, to adapt even better to the feedback they will receive from the users.
This is still an early version, your feedback is very welcome!
* DARIAH Theme is an annual thematic priority set by the Board of Directors of DARIAH-EU. The aim is to stimulate activities and events related to an important topic of research in the digitally enabled arts and humanities by issuing a call for funding.