Side project: the Thidrekssaga and footnotes

Long ago, before I became a web developer, I was a historian of the Later Roman Empire. One of the texts I studied was the Thidrekssaga, a 13th-century Old Norse story about the great German hero Dietrich von Bern and several others, such as the Niflungen, better known from the Nibelungenlied.

When I went into web development I mostly stopped this research, but recently I decided to restart it by writing an extended summary of the Thidrekssaga. Except for being useful in its own right, this side project forces me to learn PHP and Old Norse.

For those few who are interested in such matters, here is the Thidrekssaga site I am creating. I might set up a blog about the saga and related topics; I’m not sure yet. For now I wrote an introduction to the saga for those who are new to it, and I summarised about one quarter of the saga so far.

For those who only come for web development content, you’ll get your reward later. One of the things I aim to do is definitively solve the problem of footnotes on the web.

Right now my implementation of footnotes is mostly shit. I know. I’ll improve them eventually.

Before I do so, I want to have some actual footnotes to play with, instead of just a contrived example. My saga project gives me that. Right now I’m just writing articles and summaries, and I insert footnotes wherever I feel the need. This will eventually build a corpus of real-world footnotes that we can use to determine the best way of showing them on the web.

I create the summary in PHP, a language which I now have about four days’s of experience with. I already noticed that PHP arrays are very, very different from JavaScript arrays, and that I need to re-learn part of what I thought I knew. Also, I loathe the way PHP handles booleans, though I might be missing something here. Maybe there’s material for an interesting web dev article or two here as well.

Stay tuned.

This is the blog of Peter-Paul Koch, web developer, consultant, and trainer. You can also follow him on Twitter or Mastodon.
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