The mission of the Text Encoding Initiative is to develop and maintain a set of high-quality guidelines for the encoding of humanities texts, and to support their use by a wide community of projects, institutions, and individuals. In support of this mission the TEI pursues a number of important goals and activities:
- The TEI Guidelines by their nature require ongoing development and research. Because they seek to describe a textual domain that is still being explored, and because they seek to support discipline-specific analysis and research approaches that are steadily evolving, they must adapt in order to remain vital and useful. The TEI sponsors working groups of specialists who are charged with developing specific chapters and encoding modules to support the encoding of particular genres and features, such as manuscript description, dictionaries, or physical bibliography. In some cases this work results in an entirely new tag set covering an area that was previously unaddressed by the Guidelines; in other cases it refines or updates an existing module. While the work of writing and editing the Guidelines is carried out by the TEI council, editors, and workgroups, suggestions and contributions are actively encouraged from all TEI users. New features and improvements may be proposed at the TEI SourceForge site and discussed on the TEI-L discussion list.
- The TEI Guidelines are the most significant output of the TEI Consortium’s work, and the TEI is committed to disseminating them widely. They are published online at the TEI web site as HTML, PDF, and XML source, and also in print through the University of Virginia Press. The Guidelines are published in English, but their central components are being translated into a number of languages including French, Spanish, German, Chinese, and Japanese in the short term, and extending to include Hindi, Italian, Polish, Romanian, and Slovenian in the longer term.
- As part of its effort to increase and support broad usage of the TEI Guidelines, the consortium supports a variety of training and outreach efforts, and with the completion of P5 these will become even more central to the TEI’s work. Training programs are held at intervals by various groups within the TEI community, and specific projects also make their internal training and documentation available to the public. The TEI maintains a selected list of materials for learning the TEI, including tutorials, project documentation, and training events. In addition, the TEI encourages user communities and projects to develop documentation and TEI schemas that are specific to particular disciplinary or thematic areas. These may be disseminated by the TEI through its customizations page and through the TEI wiki.
- The thriving research community surrounding the TEI is one of its greatest assets and also the reason for its ongoing vitality. This community is loosely bound together through a variety of forums, virtual and actual. Of these the oldest and most inclusive is the TEI-L discussion list, which serves as a clearing house for TEI questions, debates, opinion, and information of all kinds. It includes TEI users at all levels of expertise and its archive (at http://listserv.brown.edu/archives/tei-l.html) contains a record of discussion on text encoding and TEI usage going back nearly two decades. The TEI also sponsors an annual members meeting and conference that is attended by participants from around the world, representing TEI projects of every type. The program includes papers on theoretical and practical topics, reports on work in progress, posters, meetings of the TEI special interest groups, and updates on the work being done on the TEI Guidelines.