Text and annotations

No text stands on its own. No matter how long a text, there always seems to be more information around and about it than in it.

In order to understand a text and to grasp the role it has played over the centuries, scholars annotate them. 

In doing so, they have woven a web of interpretation and understanding around texts.

This activity continues until today, and the digital age has produced an explosion of fabrics of texts and their annotations.

Scholarship and programming

Programming is no longer an ultra-technical, nerdy, numerical activity. Computation has become narrative, expressive, visual, intuitive.

The Python programming language goes a long way to make reading and writing the instructions for a computer a pleasant experience.

The Jupyter Notebook, born in the Python world, has turned programming into true story telling.

And such stories can be published in data journals, such as the Research Data Journal.

Annotation as an ongoing project

I am Dirk Roorda, since 2007 employee of DANS, the Netherlands Research Data Archive, and my goal is to bridge the remaining gap between researchers of texts and the world of computing.

To that end I have developed Text-Fabric, a tool that helps you research your family of texts. Together with specialized scholars, I have used it for the Hebrew Bible, the Quran, and various sets of cuneiform tablets.

My work rests on the shoulders of numerous scholars and computer scientists. My own addition lies in providing the easiest routes from your source materials to your analytical workflows.

In the meanwhile, every line of code I produce, is open source, published on Github, and archived in various long-term archives. The results you obtain with my tools can easily be published and remain accessible for a long, long time. Out of respect for the texts.

My work resides on Github under the organization with the name annotation.


There are several ways of getting into touch, all by clicking a button below.

If you want to use Text-Fabric, or want to contribute corpora or exchange ideas: welcome to our ancient-data workspace on Slack. You'll meet other people that are (deeply) involved in corpus research, and you can chat in several channels.

If you have a casual or non-technical question: email me.

If you find bugs in Text-Fabric, or want new features, file an issue on GitHub.