I am grateful that Michael Beddow has argued in favour of
not ignoring issues of displayability of a TEI document in the markup
I would like to make the following (partly additional) points.
Some of the arguments suggest that taking issues of XSLT processibility and
displayability of a TEI document into consideration by necessity
compromises the markup. I don't think an uncompromised TEI markup and
considerations of presentability necessarily clash.
As long as the decisions made are indeed in accordance with the guidelines,
why should letting ease of XSLT processing shape it be a problem?
TEI is by no means only meant for archivisation of texts, and processibility
and presentation of a given TEI-text do play a role:
"Since they [the Guidelines] contain an inventory of the features most often
found useful for text processing, the Guidelines also provide help to those
creating texts in electronic form."
"Although they [the Guidelines] focus on problems of representing in
electronic form texts which already exist in traditional media, these
Guidelines should also be useful for the creation of electronic texts."
(Both quotes from the introduction to the Guidelines, chapter 1[.0])
I can't see how the creation, and publication, of electronic texts with TEI
should be possible without some thoughts about presentation, ie how the TEI
markup could translate into display. Clearly, one can't simply ignore the
question if one plans some kind of publication.
And when transcribing, say, a previously unpublished manuscript text
using TEI, what is effectively done is to edit, ie publish, this text.
To me it would seem to be a loss to not take advantage of the versatility of
XML+XSLT and all the options this offers in the production of a TEI document
that can be both transcription and edition.
It is in fact the flexibility of XML and XSLT that I find one of the most
attractive and fascinating features of TEI.
It opens up whole new dimensions of editing a text. That it is possible to
produce something like three-dimensional editions, as it were, and no longer
be restricted to the two dimensions of paper-editions, is a very strong
point in favour of the TEI scheme and makes it potentially very attractive
to anybody with editorial interests.
Which editor would, a decade ago, have dreamed of being able to display the
same text in different degrees of 'diplomaticity', or as a running text,
etc., and this with hardly any effort at all?
Multiple hierarchies are a marvellous thing, indeed.
However, it would mean to considerably restrict the opportunities of
"flexible editions" if not at least some thoughts are given to what markup
is needed for the different display(s), and which markup will serve one's
Please do not misunderstand me: I'm not arguing against the
'structure-not-presentation' approach of the markup. It is exactly this
approach that makes this flexibility possible after all.
Last not least, we, that is the project, don't really have the choice but to
think about display.
Like many other projects, I suppose, we need to show something for the money
we got, and this pretty soon after the project is finished, and something
that's not too difficult to consume by our potential 'customers'. And XML
texts per se are neither very impressive nor easily consumable...