On TEI-Publisher (by the user)

A previous post on this blog by Magdalena Turska explained the development of the TEI Simple Processing Model. A Toolbox is now available, that integrates the Processing Model and allow for “instant publishing” of TEI materials: the TEI Publisher.

In the last months I have been using it in different occasions, and became familiar with the App Generator included in TEI Publisher, whose name is quite eloquent: providing some simple information (name, etc.) and pressing a button, it creates an entire web application (a complex website, if you prefer), where you can upload your materials (through an upload interface), display them, perform queries. Of course, you can also customize it and transform it into an awesome digital edition.

The materials I have used for my experiments are a selection of letters to Ernesto Monaci, Italian textual scholar who was also the first professor of Romance Philology at Sapienza University, where the materials are still preserved.

So last winter, during a DiXiT secondment in Rome, I gave a course on text encoding. The students have learned the basic of markup and TEI and encoded one or two letters each. I gathered the results and was able, using the TEI Publisher, to create a web app with everything they had encoded. This had some positive effects: the students could see a final product and were enthusiast in realizing that they have created something with their hands and skills; the instructor can briefly explain a possible entire workflow of creating a digital edition; and reflect about the distance between form and content, so dear to XML and TEI encoders. Some thoughts about the use of TEI Publisher in a didactic environment were also presented at the DiXiT workshop The Educational and Social Impact of Digital Scholarly Editions, held before the 6th Conference of the AIUCD last January.

Because I liked quite a lot the results of this first publishing experience, I decided to refine it, with the help of eXist developers Wolfgang Meier and Magdalena Turska. We spent a couple of productive days at the Huygens Institute and create the structure of the web app hosting the digital edition of the letters: a beta version is already online at <http://labmonaci.uniroma1.it> and it shows how you can use the App Generator as a starting point for developping your own digital edition.


Before closing this post, I’ll share my notes about installing eXist-DB (and the TEI Publisher, which can be installed easily through the eXist Package Manager) on a server, hoping they can be useful for someone else!

Let’s assume you have a space on a server (IP or hostname) and credentials to access (including Shell access)

Open the Terminal, on Linux, or download a SSH client.


ssh hostname


ssh user@hostname

Install eXist-db:

git clone https://github.com/eXist-db/exist.git (currently the stable version is https://github.com/eXist-db/exist/tree/eXist-3.2.0)

cd exist

git checkout tags/eXist-3.2.0 (when the new version is out, you can 'git checkout' it)


Check free space:


Another thing that you can do is ‘comment in’ the lines for automatic backup in conf.xml

Then, start eXist-DB:


Now you can access the server from the browser on    hostname:8080

— Attention —

In order not to kill the connection when you logged out, you can use Screen, which will create another terminal where the process will keep running.

Create a new screen and give it a name:

screen -S name

Access the new screen:

screen -r

Go back to terminal:

ctrl+a    and then    d

If you want eXist-DB to keep running, start it in the new screen

screen -r


Now you can exit


because eXist-db will keep running that screen. It can be useful to go back to the screen if something goes wrong or to check the port in use.

Elena Spadini

Elena Spadini is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie research fellow at Huygens ING. Her project, as part of the European DiXiT Network, pursues digital scholarly editions, as regard the scientific and technical aspects: She is currently working on encoding and transcribing tools, semi-automatic collation, modelling textual variance. She hold a Ph.D. from Sapienza Università di Roma, with a dissertation on the old French prose Lancelot; studied at Sapienza, at the École nationale des Chartes and at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, specializing in romance philology and digital techniques applied to textual criticism. Her research interests include medieval literature, the history of textual criticism and the history of digital humanities.

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