406, S2022, Course Description

ENGL 406

XML for Professional Communicators

Course description:  

eXtensible Markup Language (XML) underpins most modern document encoding, including the preparation of the BC Legislature’s proceedings. This course offers a brief history of markup and of markup languages; an introduction to the development, principles, and applications of XML syntax; an overview of common XML encoding languages and environments where they are used; and an in-depth look at the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI-XML P5) and DocBook 5.1. You will learn to model content, read encoding guidelines, parse and customize schemas, write documentation, capture and update metadata, process XML datasets, and edit XML documents. The course will not teach website design, but will make you aware of the tools and technologies required to publish XML datasets on the web and convert XML-tagged content into HTML webpages (including XSLT and CSS). Classes combine instruction, demonstrations, discussions, and hands-on encoding practice. Visiting speakers from professional workplaces will share their experience with you. There are no textbooks to purchase for this course. All materials are either open-access publications or Dr. Jenstad’s own materials. You may wish to purchase a copy of oXygen XML Editor for your own machine ($59 for twelve months).

Proposed assignments:

  • 10%      Three in-class quizzes early in the term (to ensure mastery of essential concepts).
  • 15%      Content modelling / needs analysis (encoded in DocBook using the Balisage schema).
  • 10%      Taxonomy development for a particular type of document.
  • 20%     Schema customization (pick your elements and attributes)
  • 45%      Major project. You will have an opportunity to develop your own final projects. Possibilities include: developing and documenting a new XML language; modelling and marking up content using an existing XML language; and editing a literary or historical document in TEI-XML.


  • Burnard, Lou. What is the Text Encoding Initiative? How to Add Intelligent Markup to Digital Resources. OpenEdition Press (2014). https://books.openedition.org/oep/426?lang=en.
  • Walsh, Norman. DocBook 5.1: The Definitive Guide. https://tdg.docbook.org/tdg/5.1/.
  • Text Encoding Initiative. P5: Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange.
  • Handouts and links shared via Brightspace and Dr. Jenstad’s website.