Positively Dawesome Feature

There is no such word as dawesome, I know. But I could not think of an adjective starting with a d that would express fully my enthusiasm for our progress on the production of pdf-files on the basis of our XML/TEI documents.

It is only natural that a publisher would not be very accommodating when you come to him saying: “Hey, we will have everything online first: would like you to then make a book out of it?”. As much as I understand the publisher’s  reluctance though, fact is that this is what we need (and by we I don’t just mean me, but also the scientific community at large). The digital edition of the Encyklopädie will provide a dynamical work and query environment.  What should the paper version provide for?

I gave that question some thought yesterday and came up with a list of ideas and questions:

On the level of a single dataset

  • 2 buttons: pfd this document / pdf this page
  • On each pdf:

–          Metadata in italic on top

–          Abbreviations expanded

–          No line breaks, no gaps, no unclear passages, no strikethrough

–          Additions appear, being marked as different from the text (bold?)

–          Page breaks marked (page nb?)

–          What about third hands? Do we keep them in the pdf?

–          Changes in script (latin/german) marked

–          In case of marginalia, separation of the text’s body in 2 columns (maybe we need to encode this in the XML document?)

–          Tagged persons, works, places are ignored

–          <note> with a resp-attribute at the bottom of the page (separated by a short line)

–          Act and scene appear at the top of the page

–          Styles for titles to be defined

–          Possibility to generate several pdfs depending on the text layer? (Boeckh-Encyklopädie)


On the level of a subcorpus (1 „pdf this subcorpus“ button)

–          Front page (define styles)

–          Add a table of contents after front page (with page numbers)

–          Index of persons, works and places: after the main text – with or without page numbers?(the pdf is not supposed to be there to search something…)


In the following minutes, Anna reacted by saying we need to show gaps, etc. And it turned out, especially, when Bertrand Gaiffe sent us the first conversions he had made (without having gotten much information from us as to what we want), that it would be much better to work with a double footnote apparatus than with a second column.

Of course, making pdfs doesn’t equal making a book, by far. But concerning the Encyklopädie for instance, it would offer the possibility to generate a pdf for each historical layer of the text (1809, 1810/11, 1816, etc.), and the book version would provide for a recapitulation of the text in the version of 1865. My fear (that we would in the end not do something so much different from what Bratuschek did in 1877, e.g. a cumulative compilation) would not be justified. We really are doing something different. And we hope to find a publisher that sees the potential and the meaning of this too.

There is still a lot of work to do there. I hope to be able to post a nice sample in a few days already!


Anne Baillot

I am a Professor of German Studies at Le Mans Université. My areas of research include German literature, Digital Humanities, textual scholarship and intellectual history.

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