A web application for exploring primary sources: The DanteSources case study

AbstractWe present the methodological and technical process we adopted to develop DanteSources, a Web application that allows free access to the knowledge about Dante Alighieri’s primary sources, i.e. the works of other authors that Dante cites in his texts. Up to now, this knowledge has been collected in many paper books, making it difficult for the scholars to retrieve it and to produce a complete overview of these data. Using Semantic Web technologies, we developed an ontology expressed in the Resource Description Framework Schema vocabulary providing the terms to represent this knowledge in a machine-readable form. A semi-automatic tool helps the scholars to populate the ontology with the data included in authoritative paper commentaries to Dante’s works. Then, the tool automatically saves the resulting Resource Description Framework graph in a triple store. On top of this graph, we developed DanteSources, a Web application that allows users to extract and display the information stored in the knowledge base in the form of charts and tables. Finally, we report the results of a survey to collect suggestions from end-users on their interactions with DanteSources. The methodology and the tools we developed are easily reusable, e.g. to represent the knowledge about primary sources of other authors of the Italian and the international literature.