Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 183.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Date: Sun, 20 Aug 2000 16:03:24 +0100
From: "Bruce G. Robertson" <email@example.com>
Subject: Historical Event Markup in XML
I have completed the prototype of HEML <http://www.heml.org>, text
mark-up and transformation tools. HEML aims to produce:
1. An xml namespace that describes the basic building blocks of history:
events, periods, etc.
2. Xslt transformations that make
'cool stuff' out of documents encoded according to (1). Right now, we
- tables of events sorted chronologically, even if the events are
encoded in different calendrical systems (i.e. Gregorian and Islamic).
These are linked back to an anchor in the source document representing
the event. (This makes use of an xsl-extension in java that hooks into
IBM's Alphaworks' International Calendars.)
context to a text.
- The beginnings of dynamically generated time-lines, coded in
scalable vector graphics, also with links back to source documents.
... and we dream nightly of dynamically generated maps of historical
events in a given time period within a given region.
This project takes a 'vertical' approach to development: instead of
starting with the DTD and nailing it down in detail, we've started with
a fairly naive DTD and explored the views and documents which can be
generated from it. This will inform our next revision of the DTD, and so
on. The project's emphasis is on useful, and possibly new, views of
historical events. The DTD acts as a common denominator for these.
This is 'pure' research, meant for historians world-wide. The examples
given on the site are just that, snippets taken to test or show off the
technology, not samples of an anticipated mark-up project. We're hoping
that this will so nifty and easy to use that any historical web material
would be crazy not to adopt it.
Finally, the HEML web site itself uses some pretty new web technology,
whose inner workings might be of interest to Humanists. In particular,
its server applies xslt's on the fly with the Cocoon web publishing
framework, it uses java extension functions in its xslt's and it makes
scalable vector graphics images through xsl transformations. In an
attempt to make the site self-documenting, most transformations have
links to their xml and xsl source files. (Currently, this is hosted on
my office desktop; we'll be switching in Sept. to a dedicated machine.)
We welcome your comments and criticism, but most of all, we'd love to
find partners who are working on marking up historical documents, and
would like to inform the direction of HEML by integrating it into their
-- Bruce Robertson, Dept. of Classics, Mount Allison University http://www.mta.ca/faculty/humanities/classics/Robertson/
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