TEI Simple Processing Model: Oxford workshop

I’ve had the pleasure to sit confined in IT Services basement for the whole glorious, sunny day in May, introducing the concept of TEI Simple Processing Model to the mixed crowd of editors, researchers and developers (quite a few of them our DiXiT fellows).

TEI Simple Processing Model (SPM) is a framework that facilitates conversion of TEI (or actually any XML-encoded) texts into a range of output formats like html (obviously), pdf and ePub. SPM allows the editor to embed processing instructions into TEI ODD schemas and Simple Processing Engine performs the actual conversion of the file according to the rules stated in the ODD. TEI Simple project provides the default rules for processing but whenever they don’t fit the editorial decisions of particular edition they can be easily overridden in ODD customization.

Here’s the presentation that discusses the processing model in more detail:

TEI Simple Processing Model Oxford Presentation

but the little snippet of code below should illustrate the general idea

<elementSpec mode="change" ident="date">
<model behaviour="inline">
<param name="content">format-date(@when, "[D] [MNn], [Y]")</param>
<rendition>color: blue;</rendition>

It is a processing instruction (a <model>) for TEI element <date>, that states that it should be rendered as inline (which is to say nothing special is to happen to this portion of the text), but the content displayed is not the actual content of TEI <date> but the value of ‘when’ attribute formatted as day, name of the month and year and coloured blue.

Remembering my previous post on the subject, you might note that – as the project went through a phase of rapid developments – we have introduced some changes to the syntax. We have also reached significant milestone of having another implementation of TEI Simple Processing Engine developed in XQuery language in eXist by Wolfgang Meier, author of this  database and application framework. It brought us the added benefit of coming bundled as self-installing JAR file so if you’d like to have a go, try http://data.exist-db.org/eXist-db-setup-2.2-develop-3f8357b.jar or otherwise have a look at showcase installation on eXist solutions’ demo server at http://showcases.exist-db.org/exist/apps/tei-simple/index.html

Our workshop in Oxford introduced both at once – the SPM as abstract idea, and the eXist application as working environment to apply it to participants’ material. With the help of our tutors: Wolfgang Meier, Joe Wicentowski and Mathias Göbel we were customizing default TEI Simple ODD to accommodate editors’ needs – ranging from numbering the lines of the Hāǰīābād inscription in Persian and Parthian through publishing Latin poetry to representation printed sketches of Joseph Baldwin.

The particularities of TEI SPM dialect (especially as it includes XPath) of course require certain skill to become fluent but we were pleased to see that we didn’t encounter any major problems in expressing the editors’ wishes. This bodes well for our hope (and promise) to deliver solution for a majority of scenarios in digital publications of TEI texts.

I’m looking forward for comments and use cases, especially testing the limits of expressivity of TEI Simple Processing Model.

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