Since taking over the project this year, my main focus has been to develop the critical edition for publication, alongside the glossary, which is now available for download, and a general introduction on the textual features. The critical edition is a demanding taskmaster, and has given me new surprised pretty much every day for over a year. Indeed, I almost named this blog "these things take time...", but I thought it would be unnecessarily whimsical. Then again, it took Orrm 30 years to write the Ormulum, but he didn't have to convert it to pdf.

The critical edition is about ready to go to the publisher, in my opinon. However it is enormous. Just the text of the Ormulum is 693 pages, at over 125,000 words, in both Middle English and Latin. There are a further over 83,000 words in the footnotes, alll in various fonts to represent the various languages and handstyles in the manuscript. My next priority is to create versions of the critical edition which are suitable for download. It will not be necessary to have the fonts installed on a computer to read the pdfs, although it seems, at the moment, as though that is the only option for a browseable version of the text. In order to have full functionality the way I've envisaged it, there needs to be a way to render Orrm's special lettering in HTML, and ensure it is visible using all the major browsers. This is not an insurmountable problem, but it means that the interactive version is a lot farther down the road than the downloadable versions.

The sheer scale of the edition means that any attempt to do anything with all of it at once takes the most astonishing amount of time, and the critical edition text file itself is huge, because it includes both the texts and all the embedded fonts and various macros, some of which were originally developed on Windows 95 with Word 97. This very point brings up the question of obselescence. While I splutter and grind my teeth at fossilised features in earlier versions of the text and affiliated documentation, I wonder what the future holds. Once of the positive features of the 1878 edition by White and Holt is that it is printed on paper in ink, so it can be photographed, digitalised and consulted in perpetuity. But will anyone be able to read .docx and .pdf files in 122 years? I guess the modern equivalent would be .xml format. This sort of thing is why one needs a whole project to deal with a manuscript of this complexity, and why these things take time.     - Andrew