TEI “Vanilla” meeting summary

Following the spontaneous exchange on e-editiones Slack channel, we have held an online community meeting to discuss the emerging TEI Vanilla proposal on October 20th. It was a pleasure to see such a broad interest and diverse representation of participants, spanning the entire range from TEI newcomers to current and former TEI Council and Board members.

Main motivation for what Martin Mueller and I initially codenamed TEI Vanilla were recurring voices expressing frustration of starting a TEI project. Without previous experience with this extensive and robust vocabulary the learning curve may be quite steep and the whole process overwhelming. During the meeting we had a chance to hear many opinions on history, theory, practice and local circumstances of conducting a TEI project. These voices cannot be easily reconciled but form an excellent base for further discussion.

Nevertheless, there was a shared agreement on certain shortcomings in the availability of:

  • introductory and advanced material for self-study
  • curated repository of extensive examples in different languages and covering different domains
  • critical commentary focusing on the bigger picture and decision making through the whole process: from encoding to publishing

Similarly, we agreed during the meeting, that a particular customization tied to a schema, following the path of TEI Lite or TEI Simple is at the moment a secondary concern. Rather a “kleine Katechismus”, presenting main concepts and considerations in a linear progression is sorely missed. Naturally, there’s no single path through the richness of the TEI but we imagine such an introductory guide would embrace the 80/20 approach and focus on issues relevant for virtually all projects.

All these postulates are not new and there is a lot of diverse material dispersed through the web already. TEI website and wiki pages try to point its user towards projects, tools and tutorials. Nevertheless, these lists, or resources they refer to, are often dated or fragmentary, therefore do not give an adequate overview, particularly of emerging practices.

It is obvious that gathering and preparing resources helpful for broad spectre of TEI users is a task both daunting as well as never-ending, and can only be undertaken and then maintained within the interested communities of practice themselves. e-editiones society sees its important role in providing a space for publication and coordinating efforts on preparation of guides, tutorials and best practice recommendations for digital editions and would like to invite you to submit proposals for:

  • guest blog posts on e-editiones.org covering various aspects of preparing and publishing a digital edition
  • TEI-encoded samples for various domains
  • accompanying ODD schema and processing model customizations

You can discuss and submit proposals via TEI Vanilla issue tracker.

PS We hoped to provide a recording of our online meeting and did not minute it. Unfortunately, due to a technical glitch, the recording quality is insufficient for publication. I am very sorry for this and would like to encourage other participants to share their perspectives, opinions and points for discussion I might have missed in this summary.

Hoping to hear from you soon,

Magdalena Turska