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Annotation is here!

openliterature - March 16, 2010 in Community, News, Releases, Technical, Texts

The fabled ability to annotate any text of Shakespeare is now part of the Open Shakespeare website! Massive thanks to Nick for all his work on something far too complex for me to even describe its complexity (apparently there were difficulties with there being ‘no TextRange in the DOM’).

Here’s how to get annotating:

  1. Click ‘read texts’ on the homepage.
  2. Scroll down to find your play of choice in the list and click on ‘annotate’.
  3. Find the line you wish to annotate, then highlight it, then click on the little notepad that appears.
  4. In the newly-present dialogue box, type your words of wisdom.
  5. Press enter to save your annotation and close the dialogue box.

Work has already begun on Hamlet, but feel free to annotate wherever you wish.

As to what you should write in an annotation, we currently have no guidelines: shorter is usually better, and, obviously, offensive comments will be removed – but apart from that, all insights and explications are very welcome.

Improvements to come include: restricting editing and deletion to the owner of each annotation, showing user information on annotations, the ability to filter annotations, and the capacity to use markdown in each comment.

Facebook, Newspaper Article, and Other Things

openliterature - February 15, 2010 in Community, News

The Open Shakespeare Project has been getting some more publicity recently: we have founded a facebook group, with an amazing picture; and a student newspaper, Varsity, has published an article on our work.

In other news, I need to point out that the translation of Hamlet published on the website is one dating from around 1830, and that we will be trying to get more modern translations up soon. That said, Guizot’s work, as well as being conveniently outside of copyright, is also interesting in its own right: it was one of the earliest unadulterated translations published in France, and both influenced and provoked future translators. Since then, there have been many more, and, doubtless, there are many more to come…

Look out for this week’s word of the week, courtesy of Colette and arriving soon!

Shakespeare en Fran├žais

openliterature - February 9, 2010 in News, Texts

Bonsoir tout le monde,

If you’ve ever wondered what Hamlet looks like in French, you can now find out via the Open Shakespeare website. The standalone text, based on Guizot’s translation of Shakespeare can be found here.

If you want to see how good a job Guizot did, you can compare the English Hamlet with the French one here.

There’s some work to do on streamlining the system to make uploading further translations a bit easier, but hopefully one day you’ll be able to trace Shakespeare’s progress around the globe through our website. (Please forgive the pun).

Pour l’instant, amusez-vous bien de Hamlet!

Creating an “Open Shakespeare Edition”

Open Knowledge International - February 26, 2009 in News

Jokey Hamlet

We’ve been thinking for a while that it would be a nice addition to the Open Shakespeare project to produce an “Open Shakespeare Edition” of the Bard’s works.

By an ‘Edition’ we meant something designed as a book and suitable for printing: so an elegant title page, relevant front-matter, properly typeset text etc. This could then be downloaded by users and printed or even offered in dead-tree version directly using print-on-demand.

Recently, we’ve made a start on this endeavour using the moby XML sources, xsl and latex. An example of the results can be seen at:

As a cursory look at that will show, while the body of the play doesn’t look too bad, the front-page could do with improvement (and the front-matter generally needs some planning). So, questions for readers:

  1. Anyone out there with design skills or suggestions who could help us out?

    • Would it make sense to run a design competition?
  2. What kind of general look should we go for? For example, should we go for:

    • Ultra traditional (but perhaps with some mods e.g. replacing the standard ‘copyright’ section with something about open knowledge)
    • Something irreverent, for example along the lines of the sketch on

Any ideas or suggestions post a comment or drop us a line we’d love to know what you think.

Shakespeare v0.6 Released

Open Knowledge International - October 29, 2008 in News, Releases

See which includes full installation instructions. We’ve also reorganized the sites so that the news/blog is here at and the Shakespeare package web interface is at

Main changes include:

v0.4 of Open Shakespeare Released

Open Knowledge International - April 16, 2007 in News, Releases

A new version of open shakespeare is out. Get it via the code page:


Outstanding Issues

  • Annotation cannot handle long texts because of javascript performance issues

About Open Shakespeare

A full open set of Shakespeare’s works along with anciallary material, a variety of tools and a python API.

For more information see the about page:

Get involved:

Mailing list:

Annotation is Working!

Open Knowledge International - April 10, 2007 in News, Technical

After another push over the last few days I’ve got the web annotation system for Open Shakespeare operational (we’ve been hacking on this on and off since back in December).

To see the system in action visit:

Quite a bit of effort has been made to decouple the annotation system from Open Shakespeare so that it can be easily reused elsewhere. You can find the code for the annotation system (nicknamed annotater) here:

There are still some substantial issues with the Open Shakespeare implementation the most obvious of which are:

a) large texts bring the javascript to its knees ((The Phoenix and the Turtle is the shortest of Shakespeare’s works which is why I’m using it).

b) security/user authentication for annotation adding/editing/deleting

But the basic system is working.

Porting Marginalia Annotation to Python

Open Knowledge International - February 3, 2007 in News

Adding annotation support to the texts in Open Shakespeare is the main item for the next 0.4 release. This is a rather large undertaking and the last 2 months has seen substantial work on the first stage in the form of porting Geof Glass’ marginalia into a standalone python package named annotater that can then in turn be easily reused in Open Shakespeare.

The main work in porting annotater was twofold:

  1. To create and independent annotation store web application which reproduced the restful web interface needed by the marginalia javascript (we’ve also improved this by giving it a normal human-usable CRUD web interface in addition to the restful one)
  2. Plugging this together (aka debugging/hacking around) with the existing marginalia javascript (for example the paste-based WSGI store web app just would not process posts sent using x-www-form-urlencoded!)

Annotater is now fully functioning and we can entirely reproduce the basic demo in the original marginalia though with the major difference that our version has a proper store backend so all creation/deletion updates of annotations get persisted to a real db and aren’t just in memory (to try this out just start the demo wsgi app via $ python

The next step after this is to integrate annotater into open shakespeare along with doing any polishing up of the package that is needed to achieve this.

v0.3 of Open Shakespeare Released

Open Knowledge International - October 4, 2006 in News

A new version (0.3) of open shakespeare is out. Get it via the code page:


  1. Can now view mutiple texts side by side (ticket:15). See it in action at:

  2. Now include moby/bosak versions of shakespeare as well as gutenberg (ticket:10) (though more work remains to be done to process these versions to plaintext and html)

  3. Fix bug whereby we were missing some of the available gutenberg texts (ticket:18)

  4. Install the shakespeare python package (ticket:16)

  5. Move to py.test from unittest

  6. New project website at

Outstanding Issues

  1. Several of the source texts (all of them Gutenberg folios) seem to break the viewer due to kid (the templating system) complaining about about ‘not well-formed (invalid token) xml’. Any help in tracking this down would be greatly appreciated.

About Open Shakespeare

A full open set of Shakespeare’s works along with anciallary material, a variety of tools and a python API.

For more information see the about page:

Mailing list:

Open Shakespeare v0.2

Open Knowledge International - July 15, 2006 in News

With a little bit of free time over the last couple of weeks I’ve managed to do some more work on open shakespeare. The new version (v0.2dev) is up and running on the site:

NB: concordance only includes sonnets (this is not a necessary restriction but saved on concordance build time)

Many of the improvements in this iteration are internal and will make future work faster and easier. More details on the changes can be found below.

Any and all feedback most welcome and if anyone wanted to start hacking away with me that would be fantastic (there is now a trac installation to assist with this — details below).

Main improvements

  • move away from gutenberg-centric setup present in v0.1
    • will now be simple to add new material
  • using domain model and database backend
    • much more flexible concordance with faster creation
  • web interface improved
    • concordance now provides snippets and link through to sources

Trac Installation

There’s now a trac installation for project management:

For latest developments check out the timeline:

All the TODOs are now tickets. Active tickets:

A roadmap with links to current future tasks: