2018-09-20 ALTO Board Meeting Minutes


  1. Find and tell a non-offensive, maybe self-deprecating joke before the meeting begins and/or after it ends. [All]
  2. Update on support for ruby characters. See issue 51. [Art/Frederick]
  3. GitHub Reorganization and Housekeeping. [Clemens & Others]
    • Status/migration of wiki – see
    • Process for schema changes
  4. Planning for F2F meeting (Oct. 14, DLF Forum in Las Vegas). [All]
  5. Champions for orphaned/unassigned open schema issues. [Art]
  6. Results of vote for two new Board Members/expansion of Board. [All]

View all open action items here.

Attending members


wrt agenda item 2. Frederick gave some background on issue 51. He is working on two projects that involve the digitization of Japanese-American newspapers, one with the University of California, Riverside, and the other with Stanford University, the Hoover Institution, and East View Information Services. Ruby characters have been problematic for OCR processing in these projects. Raju has experience with text materials with ruby characters from years ago, noting that they are usually associated with words in Japanese and are most often a clue for pronunciation. Frederick noted the possible synergy with Hebrew and Arabic text where dots and dashes are used in a similar manner.

Ashok suggested that ALTO support could function on two levels, one for representing text so that it can be rendered properly, and also at a higher functional level for tasks like producing audio books and supporting text mining. Stefan flagged the potential for verbose and complex XML when encoding interpretations or analysis of glyphs, using the example of ligatures and the verbosity associated with specifying different glyph combinations and variants. It was noted that Japan has a long history with digitization projects, and that it might be useful to invite someone from Japan with OCR experience for ruby characters to the Board. Frederick has approached someone at the National Diet Library in the past. Clemens has a colleague who has transcribed a large amount of Japanese materials at the Diet and currently lives in Japan, whom he will contact.

wrt item 3. Art asked about the relationship between github and ALTO sites. Clemens pointed out that is used to provide a more accessible/friendly space for exploring ALTO. Github is used for working through ALTO materials and is more for the public-facing, final renditions of ALTO materials. Art will ask about changing the link on the Library of Congress site to go to The process for schema changes was also clarified. The champion for an issue can notify the Board by email between meetings to comment ACCEPT or REJECT on the issue, and the proposal can then be formally accepted or rejected at the next meeting.

wrt item 4. One of the newest Board members, Ahmed Samir from Bibliotheca Alexandrina, will be at the DLF conference and it would be an opportune time to work through supporting Arabic in ALTO at the face-to-face meeting. Clemens noted that it would be worthwhile to ask Ahmed to bring materials from Bibliotheca Alexandrina to the meeting and Stefan suggested that new Board members be informed that materials they contribute will be made available by public by a CC BY-SA 4.0 license. Frederick will update the ALTO Board Membership Criteria to reflect the licensing expectation.

wrt item 5. There are only a few schema issues without champions. It is unclear if Jean-Philippe’s replacement from Bibliothèque nationale de France will champion the same tickets but Frederick will follow up on Jean-Philippe’s plans. There was some discussion about Issue #38 regarding “normalized” coordinates, where absolute pixel values are replaced with fractional values based on a coordinate system with (0,0) at the origin and (1,1) on the opposite corner. This would allow the same set of coordinates to be used on the same image as it is resized, which is a very strong argument for this approach. Clemens noted that the Bavarian State Library took a similar approach to TEI more than a decade ago, and Frederick had also seen a related model at iArchives. Clemens will add himself to the issue and work with Frederick on a proposal. Art will close Issue #50.

wrt item 6. The Board will expand to allow for both Ahmed Samir and Matthew Thomas Miller to join at the same time.

Other business. Jo has identified a problem with processingStepType in version 4. He discussed the situation with Jukka and has a proposal that will not break backwards compatibility. The Processing steps elements will also be applicable at more than the page level. Jo will create an issue for this (done - see Issue #52).

The next ALTO Board Meeting is tentatively set for Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018 at 9am EST.