About the Manual

This website evolved from the BDMP's original Encoding Manual, a cheat-sheet written in Word by Vincent Neyt (the project's technical assistant) to help editors and transcription assistants encode their transcriptions of our corpus's historical documents. As the project took off, and more and more editorial decisions had to be made to accommodate the various textual features these texts displayed, the cheat-sheet grew as well to include new tags, attributes, and attribute values. However, because the manuscripts of our second module (L'Innommable/The Unnamable) were so different from those of our first module (Stirrings Still/Soubresauts and Comment dire/what is the word), many new problems arose in a short timespan, which had to be solved by implementing new encoding features. Because they were still a work in progress, to be tested and adapted before they could be implemented and taught to our transcribers, Vincent started to document these features in a new text file for 'Further Encoding', which was distributed to more advanced transcribers for whom the original manual no longer sufficed.

In 2013, in the advent of the publication of our second module, Wout Dillen (a Ph.D. student at the Centre for Manuscript Genetics) was asked to revise the official cheat-sheet in consultation with Vincent, in the first place to merge these two documents together into a single file. Besides adding the further encoding rules to the manual, Wout also expanded the General Remarks section, and added a table with validation information to the description of each tag, so that transcribers could not only learn how to use these tags, but also where they could use them. The result was a 31 page long Word-file called 'BMDP Encoding Manual 2.0'.

Because its large size and linear format made manual more difficult to read, Wout started to work on an online successor for the manual that would be called the BDMP Encoding Manual 3.0. The website was first built on a local server using MAMP and WordPress, and presented internally in August 2014. On the 5th of September 2014, the website was published online, on a server hosted by the University of Antwerp. Three days later, it was presented at the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project Workshop, an in-house workshop organized at the University of Antwerp for the collaborating editors of the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project. At that workshop, the need was expressed for an online social platform, where the editors could discuss editorial problems etc. To solve this problem, a private Forum was appended to the website. Finally, on the 12th of September, the Encoding Manual and Forum were ready to be used, and the editors and collaborators of the BDMP were notified accordingly.