Welcome to Digital Mappa 1.0

Digital Humanities workspaces, editions, scholarship, collaboration & publications
for the rest of us


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April 18, 2018: DM 1.0 is released into the wild! Here’s the official press release.



What is DigitalMappa? (the Short Take) 

A. If you’re not already affiliated with a DM server, have a network admin set up your own instance of it (some assembly required).

B. Start making your own DH workspaces, collaborations, projects & open access scholarly publications for collections of images & texts – if you can click, type, copy & paste, you can use DM.



Digital Mappa
(DM for short) is a freely available online environment for creating projects out of digital images and texts. The premise of DM is simple and powerful: if you have a collection of digital images and/or texts, you should be able to produce an online resource that links together specific moments on these images and texts together, annotate these moments as much as you want, collaborate with others on this work, have the content you produce be searchable, and make this work available to others as you wish. And you should be able to do this with little technical expertise.

Within DM, if you can point, click, drag, copy, paste and type, you basically have the technological ability to produce your own sophisticated digital scholarship, editions and projects.

DM can be used to create your own personal workspace, a collaborative research space, a pedagogical space for your students, or a public publishing platform. It can be used to produce traditional scholarship that also takes advantage of being digital.

Getting Started:

• If you want to see what DM can do, here are two options:

1. Check out some of the showcase projects that have already been published (view in a desktop/laptop version of a Chrome or Firefox browser)

2. You can also play around in DM on your own – visit the DM Sandbox, where you can make a temporary test project.

• To start making your own, permanent projects in DM, you either need to be affiliated with an existing DM server, or set up your own (some assembly required). See our help guides for more information.

Current Requirements for DM Projects:  

• desktop/laptop web browser (view in Chrome or Firefox, edit in Chrome)
• an Internet connection
disable touchscreens on touchscreen laptops (DM 2.0 will have touchscreen compatibility

Please Note: DM 1.0 is very much a beta version – it’s a working draft of the basic features and functionality of the resource, and limited in some ways. It’s a stepping stone to the full version of DM that will be released next year as DM 2.0.

As a beta version, DM 1.0 is also really designed for smaller scale projects of less than a dozen objects or primary texts – but you’ll be able to scale up your projects in DM 2.0, which will provide ways to manage larger collections and sub-collections.

DM 2.0 Full Release:
The full version of DM, in development for a 2019 release, will offer enhanced features such as touch screen functionality and large scale collection management. Go here for an overview of all the enhanced features in DM 2.0.

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A Brief History of Digital Mappa, and Credits:

In 2007, Martin Foys began to work on developing a digital edition of the early medieval Cotton Mappamundi. With a $5,000 summer grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), he began work on the edition, supported by three undergraduate assistants, Liz Aghjayan, Liz Lipke and Whitney Trettien. Using a prototype of the now defunct Edition Production Technology resource (EPT) to digitally edit the map and link it to textual sources and analogues, Foys soon realized that the data he was generating could equally serve other medieval maps that had similar content, and that a resource was needed to allow one to edit groups of medieval maps and associated content in a network together. Asa Mittman began collaborating on this effort as a co-director, now called Digital Mappaemundi, soon after.

In 2009, Shannon Bradshaw became the technical lead for the project, and in 2010 Foys and Bradshaw were awarded a small NEH Digital Humanities Startup grant to develop a prototype of a resource that would allow multiple medieval maps to be edited in aggregate. They soon realized that the resource they were developing could be used not just for medieval maps, but any collection of digital images and texts. Lisa Fagin Davis used an early version of Digital Mappaemundi to digitally edit a fifty-foot medieval scroll for her own research, while Bradshaw began collaborating with DMS-Tech, a Mellon Foundation-funded project at Stanford University to develop standards for digital repositories of medieval manuscripts, where the Digital Mappaemundi prototype was used by the Dictionary of Old English and several other projects.

In 2013 the project was awarded an NEH multiyear Digital Implementation grant, and the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies (SIMS) became the new home for the project, under the administration of Dot Porter. A flagship project for the resource, Virtual Mappa was begun in collaboration with the British Library, where research associate Cat Crossley oversaw the foundational editing and annotation of ten early medieval English maps of the world and thousands of geographic inscriptions.  Though SIMS, Performant Software was brought on to finish development of the DM 1.0 beta version (now rebranded as Digital Mappa), which was released as open access software in early 2018. During this time, with support from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture (CHPDC) and a Council on Library and Information ResourcesCouncil on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) data curation postdoctoral fellowship, Heather Wacha joined the project, to finish editing the Virtual Mappa project and to ready this project (including a full edition of the Cotton Map – the object that started all of this more than ten years ago) and DM 1.0 beta version for public release.

Currently, a number of new DM projects are underway at the University of Wisconsin by faculty and students, while other projects begun in the past few years at SIMS are being readied for publication. Some of the most developed are listed in the Showcase Projects page. With generous funding from a UW2020 grantDigital Mappa now also has two University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate research associates, Max Gray and Laura Schmidt, who are working with Heather Wacha to manage new DM projects at UW (and who produced most of the content on this website).

Coming up: after the release of DM 1.0 in early 2018, the team will be spending the next year helping people work on new DM projects, and finish and publish current projects, and working with Performant to develop DM 2.0 for release in late 2018.


Digital Mappa has been made possible with the generous support of: the National Endowment for the Humanities, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the Council on Library and Information Resources, the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, the British Library, Drew University, UW-Madison’s Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture, UW-Madison’s English Department.

It is also dedicated to every institution that is making its digital holdings freely available to all – the next generation of Humanities scholarship cannot happen without you. 


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