- Text Analysis
Though visually quite similar, the 2008 redesign reconceptualizes and improves the underlying technology of the site. The previous version of the Cather Archive was a mishmash of XML files encoded following Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) guidelines; HTML pages created by a variety of hands; and roughly modified, inherited files that did not conform to current standards. With this redesign, almost every element of the site (the index page and photo gallery are exceptions) is encoded in TEI-conformant XML. Therefore, the entirety of the Cather Archive is in a form that separates content from design, which makes the data more sustainable and greatly improves and simplifies site management. In short, new interface designs can be implemented through centralized stylesheets (XSLT and CSS), allowing the editor to make one alteration that will consistently be applied throughout all pages on the site instantaneously.
We have also migrated the Willa Cather Archive to a new server and are using different software for publication: open-source Apache Cocoon. This change, which has been tremendously positive for the development of the site, has resulted in the need to alter every URL within the Cather Archive with the exception of the main site URL, cather.unl.edu. The new URLs are much shorter, much easier to cite, and overall much more aesthetically pleasing than the previous ghastly and exceedingly long URLs. Though the change may break a few browser bookmarks, we feel that it is a change that will be in the interest of users in the long run.
The design alterations are numerous and nuanced, and we hope you enjoy the way it looks and operates now. Though the navigation, information architecture, and basic colors are consistent with the old design, small but significant changes are present throughout.
If you have any questions or concerns about the redesign—or anything else—you are always welcome to contact the editor at .
The redesign of the Cather Archive, which was unveiled in the winter of 2005, takes its color scheme from Cather's work. Specifically, the charcoal gray, terra cotta, and beige colors were taken from a photograph of ancestral Puebloan pottery, the pottery that inspired one of Cather's most compelling and well-known articulations of the creative process in her 1915 novel, The Song of the Lark: One morning, as she was standing upright in the pool, splashing water between her shoulder-blades with a big sponge, something flashed through her mind that made her draw herself up and stand still until the water had quite dried upon her flushed skin. The stream and the broken pottery: what was any art but an effort to make a sheath, a mould in which to imprison for a moment the shining, elusive element which is life itself,—life hurrying past us and running away, too strong to stop, too sweet to lose? The Indian women had held it in their jars. In the sculpture she had seen in the Art Institute, it had been caught in a flash of arrested motion. In singing, one made a vessel of one's throat and nostrils and held it on one's breath, caught the stream in a scale of natural intervals.
The green on the site is taken from summer prairie grass, referenced often in Cather's Nebraska novels. We believe the choice of colors and the austere design evoke the work and sensibility of Cather, who noted that "the higher processes of art are all processes of simplification."