e-codices Web Application v2.0

Introduction - Why create a new web application?

The web application e-codices v.1.0 was developed in 2008 and has been updated continually until September 2014 (e-codices v1.29). Since 2008 technical developments have advanced rapidly. In 2014 more than 10% of our visitors used mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets to access e-codices. New web technologies and international standards for the exchange of data have been created. Therefore beginning in 2013, e-codices together with the IT firm text & bytes GmbH from Bern completely redesigned the web application, and this new design was then implemented by text & bytes. The new web application was presented to the public for the first time with the December 2014 update.

The redesign of the web application is based on the following priorities in the areas of content, technology and organization:

  • an updated modern design for all pages including a new logo for e-codices
  • optimized handling for mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets with touch screens
  • use of the latest web technology such as HTML5 and CSS3
  • use of international standards for the exchange of data, referred to as “interoperability” (Image and Presentation APIs according to IIIF – International Image Interoperability Framework)
  • improved infrastructure: new image server (Loris) and viewer (OpenSeadragon)
  • new functions for users
  • improved search function
  • retention of all functionality of the previous application, and in some cases improvements
  • a new browser-based back end, which serves as content management system (CMS) and simplifies adding new content

Additional functions and improvements

The newly implemented functions include:

  • a new viewer that allows continuous zooming of facsimile images
  • the possibility of creating different sequences in the presentation of a manuscript in order to present not only the manuscript’s physical but also its logical sequence
  • presentation of virtual manuscripts in order to virtually reunite manuscripts whose parts are held in various places (cf. collection „sine loco“, codices restituti)
  • the display of relevant metadata alongside the facsimile
  • improved printing and downloading of images as PDF files
  • completely revised tools for adding annotations and bibliographical information
  • improved search function with new facets and quick selection menus for browsing, searching and filtering all manuscripts, basic metadata and scholarly descriptions
  • improved person index with quick filter
  • IIIF Image API for simple exchange of all images among partner institutions as well as IIIF Presentation API for the corresponding metadata
  • automatic adaptation of the layout to all screen sizes from smart phone up to full-HD-cinema display by means of “responsive design”

Back end: CMS

In addition to improvements that are visible to all users, we also completely re-developed the application’s back end with the aim of reducing the site administration fixed costs over the long term. Certain areas and contents can be edited by partner institutions (libraries, manuscript collections) and by selected scholars preparing manuscript descriptions. The back end consists of a browser-based content management system (CMS), which provides access to the following functions, among others, to selected individuals with the appropriate login:

  • capturing, editing, publishing and deleting manuscripts (basic metadata)
  • managing manuscript descriptions (determining which descriptions to publish, selecting the standard description)
  • managing libraries and collections
  • managing sub-projects
  • managing the person index
  • managing users
  • assigning facets to manuscripts

Different user roles can have different access rights. Thus administrators can edit everything, while selected ‘editors’ and ‘guest pass’ users can edit sections such as metadata for their assigned collections or manuscripts. In addition there is a mechanism in place that prevents mutual overwriting of changes by different users. Previous versions of basic metadata are saved in a database so that they can be recovered when necessary, e.g., after an unintentional deletion. As before, scholarly manuscript descriptions are encoded as XML files according to the TEI-standard (Text Encoding Initiative) and if available attached to the corresponding manuscript with a PDF of the printed description.


The following browsers are supported: all current versions of the browsers Firefox, Chrome, Edge and Safari. Javascript must be activated (browser default setting).

Technical information for implementation

All technologies are “open source:”

Back end technology

  • LAMP Stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP)
  • CodeIgniter (PHP Framework on the basis of the Model-View-Controller Pattern)
  • MySQL (Database)
  • Solr (Search)
  • Git (Version control)
  • Image Server: Loris
  • JSON (IIIF Image and Presentation APIs)
  • TEI/XML for scholarly manuscript descriptions
  • JPEG2000

Front end technology