The Humanities Computing and Media Centre has provided programming support for Digital Humanities projects since the 1990s. Our 1990s web applications were hand-crafted HTML/CSS/JavaScript sites, and these continue to work without maintenance. From the early 2000s, we began building more sophisticated sites based on relational and XML databases, using PHP, XQuery, and other tools. These sites required constant rewriting and maintenance due to technical debt (we call these "Tamagotchi projects"). By the 2010s, our maintenance burden had become unmanageable. Project Endings was set up to bring together scholars, programmers, and librarians to devise an approach to building maintenance-free easily-archived replacements for our Tamagotchi sites; we call these "pet rocks". We have converted over a dozen large-scale digital edition projects, consisting of tens of thousands of pages, into pure HTML/JS/CSS static sites. We have written an open-source static search engine which provides the kind of sophisticated search features (wildcards, exact phrase, filters, stemming, etc.) that our digital editions require without any server-side dependencies. 

The transition to static sites has dramatically reduced our maintenance burden and all but eliminated cyber-attack surfaces for our flagship digital editions. In working out our approach, we have developed and published the Endings Principles (, a set of guidelines for developing, publishing, and archiving digital resources. This presentation will demonstrate how we are able to produce feature-rich interactive digital editions with minimal technical debt and discuss some of the implications for scholars and developers working on digital projects.

Summit Speaker

Martin Holmes

Programmer/Analyst, Humanities Computing and Media Centre, University of Victoria

Martin Holmes is a programmer in the University of Victoria Humanities Computing and Media Centre. He is the lead programmer on several large digital edition projects including the Map of Early Modern London (MoEML) and Le Mariage sous l'Ancien Régime, and is part of the Project Endings team. He served on the TEI Technical Council from 2010 to 2015 and was managing editor of the Journal of the Text Encoding Initiative from 2013 to 2015.

Summit Speaker

Janelle Jenstad

Professor of English, University of Victoria

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Technology Track

Session Format
Interactive Speaker Presentation (45 mins)