Using XML to publish the Foreign Relations of the United States series

Joseph Wicentowski

U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian

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Using XML to publish the Foreign Relations of the United States series

Balisage: The Markup Conference 2014
August 5 - 8, 2014

Abstract

The U.S. State Department’s Office of the Historian uses XML data and XML technology as a key publishing, archiving, and research tool. The core motivation for adopting XML was to transform the Foreign Relations of the United States series, the official documentary history of U.S. foreign-policy, into a modern online publication with a searchable archive (http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments) using TEI markup and eXist-db. Some challenges that the project have faced were striking a balance between the rich possibilities of semantic markup and the costs of entry and quality control, and accounting for a range of styles, metadata, and editorial practices across the over 150-year life of the series. Some benefits that the project has realized from selecting XML data and technologies include a number of applications (many unforeseen at the outset), including the release of ebooks and APIs from the data, contributions to open government data initiatives, new forms of analysis and visualization, and an increasingly, if not yet fully, digital publishing workflow.