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Date:      Sat, 14 Oct 2000 12:06:22 +0100
From:      "David M. Seaman" <dms8f@etext.lib.Virginia.EDU>
To:        Humanist Discussion Group <humanist@lists.Princeton.EDU>
Subject:   Re: 14.0345 XML & proprietary formats

Response WRT UVA Ebook site, to:

Dr. Christian Wittern
Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies
276, Kuang Ming Road, Peitou 112
Taipei, TAIWAN
Tel. +886-2-2892-6111#65

On most of our site -- the English language section, for example, or the online Japanese literature -- the TEI source document is translated on-the-fly to HTML for web delivery.

In the new Ebook section [], a TEIXLITE file is converted on-the-fly to HTML if you click on the choice that says "web version" -- so it is accessible to all users regardless of platform. If you click on the "Ebook" choice -- next to the "web version" button -- you get the same TEI file converted to OEB, and wrapped up with a CSS stylesheet in the Microsoft *.lit ebook format. This does not happen on-the-fly yet. So, unless you want to try out the new ebook reading technology we chose to adopt, you do not need a Microsoft machine. We chose MS Reader over the other software-based free ebook readers mostly because it is XML-based and was easy for us to output to. We create nothing natively in Microsoft's *.lit format -- or in *.html for that matter -- they are output formats from a core TEI document. A nice proof of "build once, use many", and a useful argument for TEI and OEB.

I assume that your irritation is that you cannot download the native TEI document (we use TEILITE and more recently TEIXLITE tagging in all our locally-created documents). Like many other digital library sites that do the same thing, you get full use of our richer TEI tagging when you search the files, or view a dynamically-created Table of Contents and choose to look at only a part of a file, but what we deliver to the general online library user is HTML output (or *.lit). Whenever we have offered a choice in the past between "Get HTML" and "Get SGML" (or "GET TEI") with the latter allowing you to download the raw teilite code, we get swamped with email saying that our links are "broken". The vast majority of our users, academic or otherwise, have no sense of what this choice means -- they click on the GET TEI link and get ... well, they get what you and I would know and love as a TEI file, but they see gibberish.

If every web browser was xml-compliant and we could send out the TEI and a stylesheet that would be good for us -- lots less converting of data on the server side -- but many of our local and global users do not have the latest browser.

If you would like to talk to me off Humanist about our use of TEI I'd be delighted to do this -- and our library has an active partnership with IATH to produce digital versions of Buddhist materials in our collection, so there may be some digital activity here that is close to your Center's interest.

The point does not need to be made to Humanist readers perhaps, but the reason I sent on the ebooks announcement to this list in particular was to champion TEI as the format to encode data in and to offer another "proof of concept" for an interchange to a format other than HTML. This is slowly receiving some attention in the trade e-publishing arena. Old news to us, I guess, although yet another reason to join the TEI Consortium (

David Seaman
Etext Center, Virginia

For context, see the announcement with the title "University of Virginia Ships Over 600,000 XML EBooks."

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive.

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