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We have prepared Bracton Online in two versions. One uses HTML framing techniques to permit simultaneous viewing of the Latin and English texts. The other consists of separate Latin and English versions, set up as individual pages. For most people wishing to study the text either in Latin or in translation, the framed version is preferable.  If, however, you are building hypertext materials and wish to link to portions of the text, you will want to use the unframed version, following the methods we suggest below.

In addition to the two versions, we offer a "super-calendar" -- essentially a table of contents spanning all three volumes of the printed edition -- and full-text search capability in both Latin and English.  All the versions use a color coding scheme to distinguish various textual interpolations and collations; [red text set off by square brackets] is text added by Thorne to get smooth English, [green text set off by italicized square brackets] is text which Thorne believed to be interpolated, and <orange text set off by angle brackets> is text which Woodbine regarded as addiciones.

Our framed version relies heavily on JavaScript and framing techniques, which unfortunately means that it will not work with all browsers. We know for a fact that it will work with version 4 and higher of Netscape on Mac and PC platforms; with version 3 and higher of Netscape on the PC; and with version 4 and higher of Microsoft Internet Explorer on the PC. We have had problems reported with version 2 of Netscape on all platforms, with version 3 of Netscape on the Mac, and with version 3 of Internet Explorer on the PC.

Linking to Our Texts

It is not possible to link directly to a particular page in the framed (simultaneous-view) version.  It is, however, possible to link directly to any particular page of the Latin or English text in the unframed version by using the volume and page entry boxes at the top of each page.

More About This Version

People with more experience than we had at the outset recommended that we have the text keyed in rather than attempt OCR scanning.  This was  a wise recommendation.  At the time, keying costs were roughly $2-3 per page for a text like Bracton; OCR would have cost (we believe) between 3 and 5 times that much.  Turnaround time was quite rapid; it took less than a month to do the 2000+ pages of Bracton, including about a week of back-and-forth to answer questions about the tagging.

The programming work done for the project consisted of  text-conversion programming aimed at converting the TEI-tagged text into the two HTML versions, JavaScript programming associated with the presentation of the framed version, and some reworking and filtering specifically designed to add functionality to full-text searching (such as term counts and term highlighting).   The conversion programming was simplest; the bulk was done in about two days, followed by significant amounts of tweaking as we changed our minds about how we wanted things to appear.  JavaScript work took longer -- much longer, it seemed, because it took literally three times as long to make things work in all four major browser editions (NS and MSIE 3 & 4) as it did to program for just one of them.

The search engine has been supplemented with functionality provided by CGI scripts of our own devising.  Those add-ons have mostly to do with the presentation of results, and include tabular presentation of search results with terms counts, and highlighting of search terms in returned documents.


Contact: specialc@law.harvard.edu
Page last reviewed April 2003.
© 2003 The President and Fellows of Harvard College