Development of this site

This page details our progress and future plans for development of this resource.

Structure & organization of the site

The Colonial Correspondence site is based on a large dataset of transcription files, which contains all of the documents in the collection, marked up in TEI XML (P5). The TEI ODD file and schemas for the site can be found here. Other parts of the site (such as this page) are also encoded in TEI XML. The data is stored in a Subversion version-control repository which is publicly accessible.
The site is rendered using XSLT, and the end result of the build process is a completely static website following the principles of Project Endings. The resulting codebase requires only a Web server to run, so it can be deployed anywhere very easily. Even the search engine is completely static, using our staticSearch codebase.
Every item in the collection (every document, every biography, every map, every place description, etc.) constitutes a single page on the site, with a simple URL. Ancillary components such as biographies or vessel descriptions are also retrievable using AJAX calls so that they can appear as popups within other pages when required.


This static version of the site was written in 2019-2020 and first deployed in 2020; it replaces a much older web application which was based on the eXist XML database. Several editions have been published since the first 2.0 release.

Reliability of transcriptions

In a document collection as large as this, it is inevitable that there will be some errors of transcription or interpretation. Earlier documents in the collection tend to have had more attention, partly as a result of the writing of abstracts for them. We hope to be able to continue with the work of writing abstracts if funding becomes available, and we continue to fix errors where we find them. However, all correspondence documents are now linked to images of their original pages, so any reader can verify the transcription they’re using if necessary. Please let us know about any issues you find.

Our encoding guidelines

We have a detailed set of guidelines, written by Kim Shortreed and Gordon Lyall, and encoded by Lily Maase. If you’re interested in the fine details of how our project works, please take a look.
Martin Holmes
University of Victoria Humanities Computing and Media Centre