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Lou Burnard wrote:

> I was hoping someone could tell me a bit more about the project than I
> could glean from the SF site.

Their old domain now redirects to

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zefania_XML

which one therefore assumes (unlike some other wikipedia pages I could
mention) is authoritative. However, archeologically inclined German speakers
can go to

http://web.archive.org/web/20050206021428/www.code-off.de/wiki/index.php/Hauptseite

where there is a bit more about the history and aims.

> it seemed to me that the enterprise
> is similarly motivated

I don't think I would agree. Before it developed its XML vocabulary,
Zefania was a project specifically concerned with Bible reading and
searching software. And the vocabulary has a very specific purpose: it is
"eine auf XML basierende Sprache zur Beschreibung von Bibeltexten." Punktum.
Their design also gives explicit priority to ensuring the markup can be
processed by relatively simple software, indeed it sees itself as a driver
for the development of such software. "Mit der Entwicklung dieses frei
verfügbaren Bible Markup Standards für Bibeltexte soll die Entwicklung und
Verbreitung von kostenlosen Bibelsoftwareprodukten gefördert und
vorangetrieben werden."  The project applications (which now seem to be gone
from Sourceforge) showed that the markup design was also influenced by a
wish to make semi-automatic upconversion from near-plaintext Bible versions
as easy as possible
(see
http://web.archive.org/web/20050221022357/www.code-off.de/wiki/index.php/ZefaniaXML:Textkonverter

By contrast, some of the things about the TEI that cause newcomers (or
hardened stay-awayers) the most difficulty are the consequences of a
determination to offer markup systems for the widest possible variety of
texts, processable by applications of whatever degree of sophistication is
required by the nature and intensity of the markup.  So I would be inclined
to claim that a distinctive feature of this project is precisely the absence
of TEI's universalist intentions, a single-minded determination to focus on
a vocabulary optimised for Biblical texts (as a text type, though not
necessarily confined to the Christian Canon), that will be processable by
applications of maximal simplicity. And  I would also claim that the
broad-church approach (and refusal to allow application constraints to
dictate markup design) with all the complexities and prolixity it produces
both in the Guidlines and in the tagsets, is of the essence of TEI: hence I
would see significant strands of the Zefania motivation as pulling in the
opposite direction from TEI.

> and reaches similar conclusions about how such
> texts should be marked up

Well, I'm not really convinced that these similarities qualify as in any
sense TEI-like. That is, in any sense that could be distinguished from
(XML)-Docbook-like, for instance. There are only a limited number of ways
that reasonably capable and well-informed people could arrive at a markup
design for a Bible within the general framework of XML. If using XML counts
as an affinity with TEI, then fine, but I do think that's stretching things
a bit.

Despite appearances, I'm not just shadow-boxing here, because I think the
genesis and existence of such markup schemes reveal a failure of TEI
evangelism (pun as unintended as it is inescapable).  I would be the first
to agree that every significant aspect of this vocabulary could be encoded
TEI-conformantly. Which leads to the question: why did its designers not
come to the TEI wheel-shop for a ready-made product?  Had they never heard
of the TEI (I still keep coming across people, in German Academia
especially, who claim ignorance of TEI despite their being classed as
authorities on digitisation). Did they maybe believe that TEI conformance
would have created difficulties for application designers?  Did they think
that the simplicity and economy they were aiming for were not achievable
within TEI conformance? Did they think the added benefits of such
conformance were unimportant or non-existent?  Plainly we can't answer such
questions for them. It is wholly possible they never asked them of
themselves. But it's a bit worrying if people operating in a realm which is
very much part of the domain TEI tries to serve see no reason or benefit in
doing things the TEI way. And I am wary of implying, however indirectly,
that they have indeed done things in something not wholly unlike the TEI
fashion.

Which is why I intervened, governed by the prospect that at some stage we
may get to see a blurb for Zefania in the best traditions of Marketing
Department Ellipsis citing this list and reading

"It's TEI ..." (L. Burnard, co-editor, TEI Guidlelines)

At least there's now a faint hope that could be accompanied by

"Oh no it ain't"  (M. Beddow, nit-picker and trouble-maker, TEI-List)

Michael Beddow