Thomas Walter's Flora Caroliniana in XML

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Editorial Notes

The following pages are an XML markup of Thomas Walter's Flora Caroliniana of 1788. This rare work was made available as a facsimile reprint from the Arnold Arboretum in 1946, and it is with the kind permission of the Arboretum that I am able to offer this resource freely on the Web. This project is intended both to demonstrate the usefulness of XML in the communication of scientific information and to make this important flora more accessible to modern botanists and students. Note that while the work is in Latin, the markup is in English and will provide valuable clues to the Latin content for students not highly versed in botanical Latin.

Walter's Flora is organized into two large sections. The first treats plants only to the level of genus, while the second part goes to the specific level. The generic flora is here presented as a single page (walter1.xml), which contains links from the name of each Linnean class to the page that covers that class in the specific flora. The generic flora is entirely complete, while the specific flora remains a work in progress.

For those unfamiliar with Extensible Markup Language (XML), I recommend visiting the UNC Herbarium's gymnosperm site which provides some of the basics. A knowledge of XML is certainly not essential to using this flora, but it may suggest additional options to the creative reader. The point of XML is that it presents not just "flat" web pages, but dynamic sources of data which can be viewed and manipulated in a variety of ways. With a knowledge of the workings of XML, the contents of the Flora may be downloaded and information may be selectively extracted through XSL stylesheets (see the tutorial site listed at the beginning of this paragraph).

Technical Notes

The markup for this flora was originally done in XML, using the Notetab Light text editor. The XML version of the flora is formatted for the web through an XSL stylesheet called santee2.xsl. If you have an XML-savvy browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer 5, you will be able to view the XML as it is presented by that style sheet. By using "view source," you will be able to see the actual XML markup.

If you have a browser which does not understand XML, you will see only the marked-up text if you try to view the XML version of the flora. For this reason, I have created an alternate, HTML version of the flora for use with non-XML browsers. The conversion to HTML was performed using xslt-parser, a Perl program written by Geert Josten and Egon Willighagen as part of their XML::XSLT module, available from the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network. The stylesheet for this conversion, santee.xsl is significantly different from the one used for the IE5 conversion, due to the fact that IE5 and xslt-parser support different subsets of XSL.

A Note on Special Characters

In an effort to preserve some of the charm of the original typography, I have made an attempt at rendering most of the special characters as they appear in the text. This has been done generally with ligatures, characters requiring a diacritic mark, etc. The use of the long "s" in the original has not been retained, mostly because I have been unable to find a long "s" in a computer font. The symbols for male, female, and hermaphrodite flowers (G E D) have been rendered through an XSL stylesheet to appear properly, but this is dependent on the presence of the font "Bookshelf Symbol 3" on your computer. If this font is not present, the characters in the parentheses of the preceding sentence will appear as letters rather than symbols: "G" for male, "E" for female, and "D" for hermaphrodite. If in doubt, you can use "view source" to see the sex of the flower expressed as an attribute of the flower tag (e.g. <flower sex="female">).

Notes on Markup

Readers are encouraged to take a look at the DTD to see the markup elements used in describing the Flora and to use your browser's "view source" option on the Flora pages to see how these elements are applied. In marking up the Flora, I have made no attempt to correct misconceptions of the time or to re-cast Walter's descriptions in terms of our current understanding of homologies. So, if Walter calls it a calyx, I mark it as such. In reading Walter's descriptions, it is wise to remember the following:

Markup and editorial notes ©1999 Ron Gilmour
Comments and suggestions are encouraged!
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