About the Apparatus Explorer

The Apparatus Explorer is an web application that:

The Apparatus Explorer is foremost a tool for visualizing a digital critical apparatus and editing its data. My long-term goal, however, is that this would grow into a platform for textual scholars and researchers to publish their collation data in a user-friendly interface. The Apparatus Explorer embraces the fact that it is not a print apparatus and leans into visualizations only possible in a digital medium. When I submit my PhD thesis, I am required to include my collation data as a print apparatus in the appendix, but, I will publish it here as well and hope that my examiners appreciate the superior ease of use and experience.

How it Works

Anyone can view the apparatuses which users have chosen to publish and make publicly viewable. To view these, follow the “Published Apparatuses” link above. Everything else described below is available only to authenticated users. To register for your own user profile, contact me and provide your email. I will then grant you a username. In the future, I allow users to register themselves. For now, I consider this project in the beta phase and welcome participation and bug hunting. I also welcome feature requests and suggestions.

A Brief History of the Apparatus Explorer

The Apparatus Explorer began as a standalone Windows application. During my time as a PhD student, I was using digital tools to perform textual collation and analysis, but there was no user-friendly way to explore the XML output of these tools (mainly ITSEE’s Collation Editor.) Further, I wanted a simple way to add genealogical relationships between readings to the XML file so that it could be used with Joey McCollum’s open-cbgm. Finally, I wanted these relationships to be viewable as a graph.

All the functions from the Windows app have been carried over to the web app version. The main feature provided by this web app over the desktop app is the ability not only to view one’s own private collation files, but also to publish them on this platform for public viewing.

The web app version actually had an earlier incarnation as an add-on to my personal site (really I was just saving money by including it on the same server and URL route). Few people would notice the difference between the version here and that earlier one, but I overhauled most of the front and backend code. On the frontend, I now use a single light JavaScript library (htmx) instead of four or five large ones (yikes!) and handle all XML processing, HTML rendering, and SVG graph creation on the server. The benefit is that the Apparatus Explorer now runs just as smoothly in desktop browsers as it does on mobile browsers.

I anticipate making feature upgrades along the way. These include editing all components of the collation file: witnesses, readings, reading names, etc.