Saturday, December 29, 2012

The HMT Manuscript Browser · News and Updates

: The old version of the Manuscript Browser at is going away. Its replacement will appear at In the interim, a beta application is available at
An archive of every digital image in the HMT library is always available for manual and automatic downloading.


In 2007, shortly after we completed photography of manuscripts Marciana 822, Marciana 821, and Marciana 841, we wrote and posted online an application for browsing the high-resolution images. This application used the Google Maps API to allow users to manipulate the images; it allowed searching by the enumeration of manuscript folios and by poetic book and line.
Technological and scholarly considerations alike dictate that we take this original application offline. Using the Google Maps API is not ideal for our purposes. Google Maps assumes that it is displaying images of the surface of the earth, for one thing, and using it for serious work on manuscripts requires many workarounds, compromises, and hacks. More serious, though, is the problem of scholarly citation. In the five years since we wrote the original facsimile browser, our understanding of scholarly citation in a digital world has matured. By standardizing on citation with URNs, we can deliver effective applications today, using scholarly material that can remain valid in the future. The old application does not support citation using URNs; its replacements do.

What Will Happen

The application at will cease working at any moment. New “Facsimile Browser” applications are being developed on two hosts: and beta hosts experimental versions of HMT applications; when we consider versions of an application ready for regular public use, we will also host them on amphoreus.
In the meantime, users can use two resources for accessing digital images of the Homeric manuscripts:

About the Beta Facsimile Browser

The application that lives at allows users to look up digital images of manuscripts, and associated data, by requesting citations of folios or by poetic book and line.
We wrote this application to explore a URN-driven graph of HMT data. Its state as of December 26, 2012 reflects its origin as a test-bed for this way of integrating our data.
The application will evolve over the next few weeks as we redesign the user interface with a wider audience in mind. Once that redesign is complete, we will put the application on the server and announce its public availability.

A Final Word

The Homer Multitext consists of data–images, texts, collections of regularly structured data. It is a reality of the twenty-first century that technology changes rapidly, and thus how we interact with data will change rapidly. From the outset, the editors of the HMT assumed that any particular end-user application would have a lifespan of only a few years. Our goal has been to ensure that the data remain accessible regardless of technological changes, and that the discoveries and insights generated through widespread and free access to that data is never trapped in forms dependent on any particular technology.

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