Meeting with the HRA

After rescheduling twice — hence the radio silence here — the two of us local to Heidelberg finally managed to meet with Eric Decker, the head of the HRA this afternoon. It was an extremely productive meeting where we discussed the nature of the potential relationship between the HRA and the DMNES, and what sort of technical guidance and help they can offer.

One of the most important concerns we have is the long-term sustainability of whatever set-up we choose: While we want to take advantage of whatever assistance the HRA can offer, we have no guarantee that the Dictionary will have ties with Heidelberg beyond the next four years. Thus with the choices we make now we hope to maximize the opportunity to collaborate with HRA while making it possible to collaborate with others in the future.

As a result of the preliminary discussions today, we believe that it makes most sense to store the Dictionary‘s data in individual XML files in a git repository. Keeping the files under version control will allow us to keep track of who edits the data and when, so that we can pin-point when any errors enter in (though hopefully these will be very few!). This data can then be imported into an XML database such as eXist-db or into a relational database such as MySQL, depending on whichever is more suitable for the task at hand. It is most likely that we will begin working with eXist-db, for the expedient reasons (1) that the HRA already has a large infrastructure built around eXist-db in place which we could both take advantage of and which the Dictionary‘s data could contribute to by making easy linking to other projects that the HRA develops, and (2) that I am currently taking an intensive 6-week course run by Wolfgang Meier, the author of eXist-db, and thus can benefit from training by the expert. Next Monday after the next training session I hope to speak with him about the Dictionary to see if he would be willing and interested in helping us with the another crucial component: Developing the XML schema.

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