EHRI Omeka (Classic) plugins and theme

TEI editions plugin

The EHRI team chose to use the Omeka web publishing platform for the documentary editions due to its compliance with standards (Dublin Core) and extensibility, as well as for the functionality of the Neatline mapping plugin. By default, however, Omeka was not capable of displaying TEI, nor of extracting structured information from XML sources. For this reason the EHRI team originally developed the Omeka Classic plugin for the digital editions.

The TEI Editions plugin developed by EHRI takes care of the editions workflow within Omeka by handling TEI document ingest, update, and association of tertiary material such as images. It also provides various display functionalities used by the Omeka frontend (theme).

The plugin supports the editorial workflow which links document annotations to controlled vocabularies (EHRI, Geonames), EHRI archival descriptions and other resources. The plugin makes it possible to use documents encoded in the TEI P5 XML format to build a rich Omeka presentation.

The plugin allows you to:

  • Enhance headers of TEI documents with metadata from the EHRI Portal and Geonames
  • Create Omeka items from uploaded TEI files, with Omeka metadata elements populated via customisable XPath mappings
  • Associate images and other tertiary files
  • Create Neatline exhibits from location data and other metadata in the TEI headers

Edition workflow in Omeka

The plugin has three main areas of functionality:

  • Ingesting, updating, and associating tertiary files with TEI-based Omeka items
  • Exporting TEI data and associated files
  • Configuring XPath-to-Omeka field mappings

Considering the TEI-encoded representations of the original documents as the primary data source, the EHRI editions workflow is based on the possibility of repeatable ingest of TEI XML files into Omeka. The plugin counts on any changes to documents being made in the TEI files rather than directly in Omeka. Metadata in Omeka fields will be updated accordingly.

Users can use the edition's administrative interface to upload one or multiple TEI files.


Documents can either be ingested one-by-one or as a zip file containing multiple files.

Neatline presentations are also automatically created during the ingest, provided geographic data is available. The plugin uses normalised entities from the TEI header to create records within Neatline presentations. It also enriches the document text with Neatline specific codes and saves it in the presentation metadata which makes it possible to link text to the interactive map. A template presentation selected in settings is used to include data common to all Neatline presentations, typically including historical borders.

Users can upload associated files which are automatically added to the relevant Omeka records based on matching of file names with identifiers, for example

Editions shortcodes

The integration of the documents into the narrative content of the edition (such as introductions and historical overviews) and to create index pages according to the needs of individual editions, the plugin relies on an extension of the functionality of Omeka shortcodes. The following shortcodes were added:


Fig. 1 Individual item summary as displayed in the online edition

To display recent items formatted according to the editions layout:

[editions_recent_items num=[num]]

Fig. 2 Display of recently added items

To include an index based on the metadata ingested from the TEI documents and used for faceted browse:

[editions_index element=[Metadata element]]

For instance:

[editions_index element=Subject]

[editions_index element=Place]

[editions_index element=Person]

[editions_index element=Organisation]

Fig. 3 Index: List of people linked to in the edition

The separate EHRI Omeka plugin integrates EHRI data into Omeka by adding a shortcode to display short information about EHRI items such as collection holding institutions or collection descriptions. For instance:

[ehri_item_data id="us-005578"]

Fig. 4 Short information about collection holding institutions via the EHRI Omeka plugin, as displayed in the online edition

This plugin is also used to display EHRI references on document pages based on the linked data encoded in TEI files.

EHRI Editions Omeka theme

The frontend for the publication of documents and contextual information was developed as a theme for the Omeka 2.* (Classic) web publishing platform. The theme, implemented in PHP/CSS/JS, was carefully prepared by EHRI team with a particular view to:

  • Create a clean user interface rendering documents encoded in TEI with focus on reading experience.
  • Enable faceted browse based on entities tagged in document texts.
  • Enable display of document data using automatically generated interactive maps.
  • Make it possible to deploy the theme for multiple editions, while also allowing them to be differentiated based on layout.

The editions’ user interface was designed to allow for easy and focused reading of document transcripts, without overburdening researchers with contextual information or navigation. The faceted browse and the navigation (menu) were integrated into a pane on a left-hand side which is hidden by default on document pages and can be expanded on demand.


Fig. 5 The faceted browse and the navigation menu

The user interface was built primarily for scientific usage. In addition to full-text search, the edition platform focused on providing faceted browse based on the linked data encoded in the TEI documents. The listing of documents on the result set also provides rich detail including creation information, archival citation and, where necessary and available, a short annotation. Visual representations (scans) of the documents are shown but aren’t required, nor are they central for the presentation.


Fig. 6 Results of a search in the EHRI edition, listing document summaries

As a text-centric platform, particular attention was devoted to the display of the document which consists of several sections. The first section lists document metadata which include creation information (date and place of creation, creators) and archival or bibliographic citation as well as information about original language.


Fig. 7 Document metadata including creation information, archival or bibliographic citation and information about the original, as shown in the EHRI edition

Document text (transcript) can be made available in several languages whereas it is always first displayed in the main language of the edition. The default design reproduces text in a font imitating a typing machine, typical for the period of the 20th century. Annotated terms (where linked data is available) are highlighted in a way which doesn’t distract from reading.

On mouse over, a contextual box in the right-hand column with further information and links to authoritative vocabularies and resources (based on normalised records in TEI header) is displayed.


Fig. 8 The contextual box (right-hand column) with further information and links to authoritative vocabularies and resources

Where location information is available with geographic coordinates, an automatically generated interactive map is displayed, created through the Omeka Neatline plugin. Its fullscreen version, which users can access through a link, provides document text alongside the map, allowing to follow the narrative of the document in space.


Fig. 9 The automatically generated interactive map

If the underlying TEI document contains in the <msDesc> element references to EHRI archival information, a section with references is included containing abbreviated information about EHRI country reports, archives and collections fetched through the EHRI API.


Fig. 10 Display of references to EHRI archival information

The document page also includes the possibility to download the TEI sources file as well as the document in PDF and ePub format. A simple plugin allows users to provide non-public feedback to the editors. Optionally, the Omeka Commenting plugin can be enabled to allow publicly visible commenting (typically with moderation).

The latest version can be downloaded from Github.