Australian Scholarly Editions Centre Projects (ASEC)

Authenticated Electronic Editions project (2000 - 2001)

The Authenticated Electronic Editions project will produce robust, flexible, long-lasting and readily accessible electronic editions of textual works. A particularly innovative part of the project is the development and use of Just In Time Markup (JITM). This is designed to solve a major problem associated with electronic texts: the maintenance of the integrity of the core text while it is being proliferated, translated across platforms, manipulated, supplemented and analysed.

Electronic storage and display have made texts accessible, although that accessibility has been limited and compromised by incompatible and short-lived software and hardware systems. SGML was developed to counter this problem and has achieved very wide acceptance, particularly through its well-known application HTML used on the World Wide Web. SGML works by embedding structural and identifying codes ("tags") in the text which allow that text to be interpreted by a wide range of text processors operating across different systems and platforms. But in introducing the tags into the text to ensure this portability, the operator risks altering the original text. JITM supports a number of SGML-compatible applications including HTML and XML. Instead of inserting the tags into the text, JITM effectively holds them in an overlay file, which is applied to the target document prior to processing. As part of this process, a verification check is run to ensure that the integrity of the text has not been breached.


In this way, JITM ensures ongoing textual integrity. It is particularly appropriate where a document needs to be annotated but remain absolutely unchanged. The JITM system even allows simultaneous annotation by different people who can maintain their own annotations separately or consolidate them. One of the unique features of the JITM system is its support of conflicting structural markup.

The Research Team

Project Testbed

The testbed for the Authenticated Electronic Editions project is the creation of an electronic edition of an Australian nineteenth-century novel, His Natural Life, by Marcus Clarke. This work which is found in two distinct versions (the second version in five life-time states) provides an excellent test-bed for trialling the robustness and flexibility of the JITM system. A PhD student is currently working on a thesis relating to the project.


The project is conducted under the auspices of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Australian Scholarly Editions Centre and has received funding from the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee, the Australian Research Council, the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Apple University Consortium.