Daily Archives

4 Articles

Posted by Anna Brandt on


Release 1.7.1

For handwritten text recognition (HTR), automatic layout analysis is essential – no text recognition without layout analysis.
The layout analysis ensures that the image is divided into different areas, those that do not need further attention and others that contain the text to be recognized. These areas are called “Text Regions” (TR, green in the image). Transkribus needs “Baselines” (BL, red in the image) to recognize characters or letters within the text regions.
They are drawn underneath each text line. Baselines are surrounded by their own region, which is called “Line” (blue in the image). It has no practical relevance for the user. The three elements Text Region – Line – Baseline have a parent-child relationship to each other and cannot exist without the respective parent element – no baseline without line and no line without text region. One should know these elements, their functions and their relationship to each other, especially if you have to work on the layout manually.

Manual layouts should rather be an exception than the rule. For most use cases, Transkribus has an extremely powerful tool – the “CITlab Advances Layout Analysis”. It is the standard Transkribus model that has been used successfully since 2017. In most cases it delivers great results in automatic segmentation. This automatic layout analysis can be used for a single page, a selection of pages or an entire document.

All elements for segmentation can also be set, modified and edited manually, which is recommended in more complex layouts. An extensive toolbar is available for this purpose.

Posted by Anna Brandt on


Release 1.7.1

Successful handwriting text recognition depends on four factors:

– Quality of Originals
– Quality of digital copies
– Reliable layout analysis and segmentation of image areas containing the text to be recognized
– Performance of the HTR models, “reading” the handwriting

Our blog will provide regular field reports on all these points. First of all, here are some general remarks.
Basically you can edit all handwritten documents with the tools available in Transkribus. Neither the used character system (Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Russian, Serbian etc.) nor the language is a criterion – the “models” can “learn” almost everything.
However, the quality of the originals has a big effect on the result. In other words – heavily soiled, completely faded or blackened documents have less chances for automatic text recognition than clean, strong writings.
Completely muddled  text layouts, i.e. with horizontal and vertical or diagonal lines, numerous marginal notes or insertions and text between the lines, cause more problems for the automatic layout analysis than chancellery copies. And more problems means more work for the editors.
When selecting the material, one should therefore consider the challenges it poses for the available tools and the individual work areas. This can only be done with a little experience.

In our project, multilingual documents from the 16th to 20th centuries are processed with varying degrees of difficulty. We are glad to share our experience.

Posted by Dirk Alvermann on

WebUI & Expert Client

As we said before, this blog is almost exclusively about the Expert Client of Transkribus. It offers a variety of possibilities. To handle them it requires a certain level of knowledge.

The tools of the WebUI are much more limited, but also easier to work with. In the WebUI it is not possible to perform an automatic layout analysis or to start an HTR, let alone to train a model or to interfere in the user management. But that’s not what it’s meant for.

The WebUI is the ideal interface for crowd projects with a lot of volunteers who mainly transcribe or comment and tag content. And this is exactly what it is used for most of the time. The coordination of such a crowd project is done via the Expert Client.

The WebUI’s advantages are that it can be used without any requirements. It is a web application called from the browser; no installation, no updates, etc. Moreover, it is almost intuitive and can be used by anyone without any previous knowledge.


Tips & Tools
The WebUI has also a version management – somewhat adapted for crowd projects. When a transcriber is done with the page to be edited, he sets the edit status to “ready for review”, so that his supervisor knows that now it’s his turn.


Posted by Elisabeth Heigl on

Workflow and Information System

The journey from a file in the archive to its digital and HTR-based presentation on an online platform passes through several stations. These steps make up the overall project workflow. They are based on a broad technical infrastructure. The workflow of our project, which is geographically spread over three locations, consists roughly of six main stations:

  1. Preaparation of the files and the process (restorative, archival, digital)
  2. Scanning
  3. Enrichment with structural and metadata
  4. Providing the files for Transkribus
  5. Automatic Handwritten Textrecognition (HTR) with Transkribus
  6. Online presentation in the Digital Library Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

It proved to be helpful that we not only had strictly defined the individual steps in advance but also determined the persons responsible from the beginning, i.a. experts for the individual tasks as well as coordinators for the steps across stations and locations. This ensures that all parties involved always know the respective contact person. Open questions can thus be answered more easily and any problems that may arise can be solved more efficiently.

Especially with the scanning of the Spruchakten, we have not proceeded chronologically from the start. We did not scan the inventory ‘from top to bottom’. Instead, we first selected and edited individual representative volumes between 1580 and 1675. We wanted to create mighty HTR models first. Only then did we ‘fill up the gaps’. This procedure showed us, how crucial it is to continuously document the progress of the project with all its indivdual areas and stages so that it may not become confusing. There are many ways to do this.

We keep – meanwhile very colourful – spreadsheets on the progress of the various collections and files. However, they only depict partial processes and are only accessible to the coordinators. But these spreadsheets have to be maintained and for this purpose the progress in the various areas have to be closely monitored.

Another possiblity is the Goobi workflow. Some tasks take place on the Goobi server anyway. In addition to those we can freely add tasks to the Goobi-workflow which do not have to be related to Goobi itself. All of them can be ‘accepted’ and ‘completed’ on that platform to reflect the progress of the project. However, the condition here is that all project contributors must be familiar with this workflow system. Where this is not the case, an „external“ information system must be selected that everyone can access and handle.

The different partners of our project therefor jointly keep a wiki (e-collaboration).