The technological focus of Digital Humanities at Saint Louis University has been to develop foundational, reusable, and interoperable technologies, as demonstrated in projects such as RERUM, METAscripta, and Broken Books. As standards inevitably shift, the risk of siloed, proprietary, or abandoned data needs to be avoided, so that projects associated with various types of software can be migrated without breaking the API. The open nature of OAC and IIIF allows for relatively easy migration of data in the long term, so that projects built by the center will not be made redundant by new technologies, and and moving to new technologies in the future is not restrained by proprietary or legacy systems.
Funding provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The IIIF Store provides web services to save the various IIIF compliant objects (ranges, canvases, annotations, etc.). The objective of the IIIF Presentation API is to provide the information necessary to allow a rich, interactive viewing environment for primarily image-based objects to be presented, likely in conjunction with the IIIF Image API, to an online user,. This means it is able to support web-based tools for managing images and data, such as transcription services. Currently IIIF is used by the Newberry French Renaissance Paleography project and the Broken Books project, and will be applied to the new T-PEN 3.0 for its annotations. There are many projects in the works that plan to use the IIIF store as the back-end, including METAscripta. All data saved in IIIF Store will be compatible with the IIIF standard to promote interoperability, and will upgrade as IIIF continues to develop. Only registered servers can access the SLU IIIF store, but outside institutions collaborating with Digital Humanities will be able to gain access to the server as projects evolve.
Web Data Standards
IIIF - An international consortium of myriad professionals, ranging from archivists to software architects, designed the International Image Interoperability Framework to standardize the delivery, presentation, and annotation of digital images representing paintings, manuscripts, photos, and other two-dimensional items of interest.
JSON-LD - The preferred exchange format for RDF and most of the standards below, we also use this Linked Open Data champion for most of our internal data. When that isn't possible, traditional JSON is often used for its readability and convertibility to other formats.
OAC - The Open Annotation Collaboration has helped inject digital annotation (not to be confused with scholarly annotation) into the foundations of scholarship. We began adopting the model even before W3C group released version 1.0.
SharedCanvas - Some of the cleverest people at Stanford and Los Alamos combined to author an extension to OAC designed to annotate pre-modern manuscript images, a frequent subject of humanities projects developed at the Center. The result is a simple way to discreetly and reliably refer to manuscripts and their images.
TEI/XML - This well-established vocabulary encodes a multitude of existing documents, mostly manuscript transcriptions and descriptions. Because our tools are generally designed to be non-destructive, they are designed to extend and annotate simple file formats as well as more complex encoded texts.
Many Digital Humanities tools are command-line, offline, or so driven by the project for which they were initially designed that extension is difficult and the data export is impossible or irrelevant. Our goal from the beginning has been to design for a more general case and support as many types and points of import and export as possible. By creating browser-based interfaces that automatically adhere to established standards, the technological demands on scholars are reduced, allowing them to focus on the content of their projects and the creation of real work.