[6 January 2010]
The markup vocabulary defined by the Text Encoding Initiative is, for good and sound reasons, rather large and in some ways rather complicated. From time to time, however, it’s useful to have a radically cut-down version of the TEI vocabulary. For people just learning TEI markup (to name just one instance), a cut-down version can simplify initial training and make the TEI feel a little less intimidating.
Many people use TEI Lite, which is much smaller than full TEI. But for some work I’m doing with Yves Marcoux and Claus Huitfeldt, we felt it would be handy to have an even smaller subset of TEI to work with. Years ago (1994), I defined a profile of TEI called ‘Bare Bones TEI’, intended not so much for serious use as for training and for thought experiments.
I had long regarded the full details of bare-bones TEI as lost to history: the documentation has been preserved by Robin Cover at the XML Cover Pages, but it didn’t include the DTD modification file showing the precise changes from the then-current TEI DTD. I had tried a few times, searching both the Web and my hard disk, to find the original data, but had had no luck. But the other day, for reasons I don’t think I can explain, an attempt at one more search eventually found an old copy of the documentation, the modification files, and the full DTD for bare-bones TEI.
I’ve now translated the original documentation to XML, added updated links to the various DTD files, and added parameter entities to the DTD to make it work both for SGML contexts and for XML. The documentation for Bare bones TEI is now available on this site, as is the modified DTD.
The current version of the bare-bones DTD is based on TEI P3, and the translation to XML loses a small amount of information involving the
pb (page break) element. Eventually, perhaps, I’ll apply the bare-bones customization to TEI P5 and produce an updated version of the schema and documentation.
Note: in searching for Bare-bones TEI on the TEI Consortium site just now, I discovered that someone has produced a similar profile, called ‘Bare TEI’. [Further research shows that although the page on customizations does not identify the authors, the work was done originally by Laurent Romary and later edited by Syd Bauman, Lou Burnard, and possibly also Sebastian Rahtz.] This may be worth exploring, for those seeking a minimal profile of TEI. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any usable documentation for Bare TEI, so I don’t know the design principles that govern it, and the DTD is full of undefined ghost elements (or ‘zombies’), which renders it unfortunately cumbersome in a syntax-directed editor. So for now I’m sticking with bare-bones TEI.