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37
THE INTEGRATED PLATFORM
W
hen the ARCHway project began
in Spring 2003, Jerzy W. Jaromczyk,
one of two co-Principal Investigators (PIs)
in Computer Science, advised us to repro-
gram these stand-alone tools and develop
all new tools using the Eclipse program-
ming environment, an open-source plat-
form originally developed by IBM, now
broadly used and actively enhanced by the
open-source community.46 Although this
move required the reprogramming of our
editing tools, Eclipse suited the needs of
ARCHway and the Electronic Boethius in
two ways. First, it provided an effective
software architecture for the production
and deployment of the EPT, which is now
organised as a set of distinct plugin tools
that work together through Eclipse. Each
tool is responsible for a specific editing or
administrative task, and the tools can also
work with one another through the plat-
form, effectively borrowing functionality
and allowing for the creation of new tools
without having to reprogram established
functions.47 Second, Eclipse is an ideal
environment for the teaching and learn-
ing aims of ARCHway. The EPT's plugin
design makes it possible to assign individ-
ual tools to research assistants, to compu-
ter science students as class projects, and to
teams of computer science and humani-
ties students collaborating on Master's and
Informatics projects.
T
he programming teams use the appro-
priate Application Programming
Interfaces (APIs) available in the Eclipse
Plugin Development Platform to build all
editing tools. To ensure that these tools are
in fact useful for editors, the programmers
always work under the guidance of the edi-
tor/PI and in consultation with humanities
research assistants. The programmers can
integrate tools-in-progress into the EPT,
because Eclipse comes with a Concurrent
Versioning System (CVS), which permits
multiple users to modify the same files
without overwriting one another's work.48
CVS is especially valuable for ARCHway,
as everyone works collaboratively on both
programming and editing. CVS also con-
tributes in important ways to the teaching
and learning goals of ARCHway, because
for testing and grading purposes the
Principal Investigators require continual,
reliable access to the most recent tools and
editing projects.
A
nother advantage of Eclipse is that it
helps achieve uniformity, adaptability
and extensibility in areas that can raise high
hurdles for complex humanities comput-
ing projects. The Graphical User Interfaces
(GUIs) developed under Eclipse are attrac-
tive and uniform and humanities editors
can easily configure them without new
programming support by using XML con-
figuration files. Eclipse works across operat-
ing systems, allowing Windows and Linux
(and Macintosh, to some extent) to support
the same tools with the same native appear-
ance. The programming platform also pro-
vides automatic updating for the emerging
tools, a critical capability that encourages
the refinement and expansion of features
as well as the correction of programming
errors or bugs in the EPT. In the long run
this capability will enable automatic online
upgrades to the completed electronic edi-
tions. With its strong support for XML and
its high-quality imaging capabilities, Eclipse
is thus in many ways ideal for the develop-
ment of image-based electronic editions.
EDITION PRODUCTION TECHNOLOGY
T
he EPT now consists of three software
layers: one for editing and administra-
tive tools, one for middleware, and one for
data management (Figure 2).
T
he editing and administrative tools
provide the functionality for manag-
ing projects and editing primary resource
images and text, just as the presentation
tools will eventually provide the function-
ality for using the completed image-based
editions in interactive displays and search-
ing facilities. The middleware layer, under
the guidance of Jaromczyk and the other
Computer Science co-PI, Alex Dekhtyar,
provides the utility plugins that allow the
upper-level tools to communicate with
each other and share image-enriched infor-
mation of all kinds from the data man-
agement layer, Dekhtyar's domain. The
data management layer contains the rou-
tines devoted to storage, maintenance
and retrieval of the information from the
image-based electronic edition. The util-
ity plugins in the middleware layer provide
functionality that is shared with the edit-
ing and administrative tools. The Project
Explorer organises current projects and
completed editions, and provides a logical
view of all project files regardless of their
physical location. The Data Source Layer
acts as a middle ground between the EPT
editing tools and the project files and pro-
vides the physical location of the project
files for the editing tools. One utility plugin
that the editor uses is the Keyboard, set by
default to the Old English character set.
Like all the plugins, the Keyboard plugin
is easily modified in configuration files to
support character sets for other languages
and other projects.
Fig. 2 - ARCHway Model for Edition Production Technology (EPT)
46 For more information, see Eclipse Platform Technical
Overview, Object Technology International, Inc., February
2003 (http://www.eclipse.org/whitepapers/eclipse-over-
view.pdf).
47 For a more detailed description of the software, and
the ARCHway project in general, see Kiernan et al., `The
ARCHway Project: Architecture for research in computing
for humanities through research, teaching, and learning',
forthcoming in Literary and Linguistic Computing.
48 For details about the open-source Concurrent
Versioning System, visit the homepage at http://www.
cvshome.org.