The Course


There are a lot of very good summer schools that deal with encoding texts using the TEI and XML. There are some that cover data transformations — for example, outputting HTML pages from TEI. The next step, building a fully-fledged web application for a Digital Scholarly Edition, seems to be missing. Hence this course.

eXistDB is a native XML database that stores and allows rapid querying of data in XML format. It is also a web framework, allowing easy(/easier) creation of web applications using the XQuery programming language. It has been used to create a whole load of humanities projects, including, for example, William Godwin’s Diary (which was built by James Cummings, who, incidentally, will be teaching a part of this course.)

Groups, Workshops, Encoded Data

This course will be run as a series of group-based workshops, combined with presentations and lectures. Instead of looking at some arbitrary examples as part of a lecture, each group will work together over the course of the week to put together a small, working Digital Scholarly Edition.

Students will be asked to form groups of four on the first day, and select an already encoded set of TEI documents as the basis of their edition. Students are encouraged to bring along some data that their group might use.

Alternatively, Maynooth University is in the process of building the Letters of 1916 project, which means we have a good selection of encoded documents if anyone fancies working with these instead.


The course is split into two parts. Part one is a refresher in XML technologies, particularly XPath and XSLT. It is absolutely not an introduction to TEI or XML — you will need a good level of proficiency already in order to follow up the course.

As a rule of thumb, if you went to the Graz Spring School in Advanced XML Technologies, you should be fine. In fact, you should have already had a brief crash-course in setting up eXist.

Otherwise, if you like the look of this, can sort of see what’s going on, and are keen to find out more, you will probably be fine.

It is also not really a course in front-end web design. A working knowledge of HTML is necessary, but we don’t expect you to be a CSS guru or JavaScript ninja (unless you are).

You will need to bring a laptop with you and, ideally, have eXist already installed. (If you were at the Graz School, you will have it installed.) Instructions are here. Of course, installing anything is potentially temperamental, so we will try have a short session in the evening of Monday 31st August to help anyone who is having problems.


Wolfgang Meier is the developer of the eXist-DB platform, and director of eXist Solutions.

Alexander Czmiel is a developer and lecturer at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

James Cummings is the Senior Digital Research Specialist, IT Services, at the University of Oxford, and a DiXiT Partner

Magdalena Turska is a DiXiT Experienced Researcher at Oxford, currently involved with the development of TEI-simple. Magdalena is a co-organiser of the course.

Richard Hadden is a DiXiT Early Stage Researcher based in Maynooth, and is co-organising the course. He knows nothing about eXist really, and the more cynical of you might be inclined to think that this course is entirely for his benefit. He couldn’t possibly comment on this.


An Foras Feasa

An Foras Feasa is one of Maynooth’s flagship institutes in the Faculty of Arts, Celtic Studies, and Philosophy facilitating and encouraging research across the Faculty. It does this by hosting a wide variety of public events and lectures, a Visiting Fellow programme, and supporting funded research.



eXist-DB is a ‘No-SQL’ document-based database that stores and enables querying of XML documents.

Digital Scholarly Editions Initial Training Network (DiXiT)

DiXiT is an international network of high-profile institutions from the public and the private sector that are actively involved in the creation and publication of digital scholarly editions. It offers a coordinated training and research programme for early stage researchers and experienced researchers in the multi-disciplinary skills, technologies, theories, and methods of digital scholarly editing.

DiXiT is funded under Marie Curie Actions within the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme and runs from September 2013 until August 2017.

Digital Arts and Humanities (DAH) Ireland

The Digital Arts and Humanities PhD program provides students with the opportunity to become pioneers in an exciting, emerging and innovative virtual academic landscape. Research and scholarship conducted on the program will create the foundations for new disciplinary and technological approaches for the arts, humanities, and industry. Digital tools and methodologies are currently being developed and engaged to yield new perspectives, and ways to consider the objects of study.