The "TUebingen System of Text Processing Programs" TUSTEP, developed at the University of Tuebingen Computing Center since the late 60es, is a professional toolbox for scholarly processing textual data. Long-term availability, platform independence for procedures and data, coverage of all steps of a typical humanities research project, flexibility based on a consequent modular design are important design principles.
The work began in 1966 when we first designed a series of functions and subroutines for character and string handling in FORTRAN (compatible, in their first version, to those previously developed by the Deutsches Rechenzentrum in Darmstadt) and implemented them on the mainframe of the Computing Center of the University of Tübingen. This made programming easier for projects such as the Metrical Analysis of Latin Hexameter Poetry, the Concordance to the Vulgate, or the edition and indexes to the works of Heinrich Kaufringer.
Proceeding from the experiences gained from those projects, the next step in supporting projects was to no longer rely on programming in FORTRAN or other "high level" languages, but to provide a toolbox consisting of several program modules, each covering one "basic operation" required for processing textual data. The function of each program is controlled by user-supplied parameters; the programs themselves may be combined in a variety of ways, thereby allowing the user to accomplish tasks of the most diversified kind. It was in 1978 when these programs got the name TUSTEP.
We have chosen the term "textdata processing" in order to distinguish between TUSTEP's prime field of application and what is commonly understood by the term text processing or word processing. Naturally, TUSTEP is also equipped with the same functions needed for preparing documents (such as input, editing, formatting, printing of texts, also those in non-latin alphabets); these functions are required for the documentation and for the preparation of publications in all fields of scholarly work, including both humanities and sciences. However, TUSTEP has been developed in particular to serve those academic fields where the texts themselves are the object of scholarly research: philology, literary studies, linguistics, historical sciences, librarianship: i.e. fields of research where not only new texts are to be produced and published as the result of scholarly work, but where existing texts (including literary texts and historical sources) are to be preserved for the future in the form of new critical editions, are to be analyzed in terms of language, style, contents, or are to be catalogued in bibliographical form.
The basic operations required by those tasks include: Automatic collation of different versions of a text; text correction not only by using an editor, but also in batch mode by means of correction instructions prepared beforehand (by manual transcription, or by program); decomposing texts into elements (e.g. word forms) according to rules provided by the user; building logical enities (e.g. bibliographic records) consisting of more than one line of text; sorting such elements or entities (according to non-latin alphabetical rules and other sorting criteria as well); preparing indexes by building entries from the sorted elements; processing textual data by selecting records or elements, by replacing strings or text parts, by rearranging, completing, compressing and comparing text parts on the basis of rules and conditions provided by the user, by retrieving numerical values which are already given in the text (like calendar-dates) or which can be derived from it (such as the number of words in a paragraph); transforming textual data from TUSTEP files into file formats used by other systems (e.g. for statistical analysis or for electronic publication).
The tasks which can be accomplished with the help of TUSTEP range from composing a brief seminar paper to preparing extensive bibliographies, lexica, indexes, concordances, dictionaries, critcal editions and of course monographs; the final output can be formatted for fotocomposition in a quality one is accustomed to in letterpress printing, or can be prepared in a form (e.g. XML, HTML) and encoding (e.g. Unicode) which is required for electronic publishing.
In addition to programs for the aforementioned textdata processing operations, TUSTEP features all necessary organizational functions such as file handling and defining new commands, functions which are normally covered by the job control language (JCL) of the respective operating system (OS). Thus, an identical user interface independent of the computer and its OS is provided. This not only saves the user the trouble of having to relearn when he switches to a computer with a different operating system, but also allows him to adopt existing TUSTEP command sequences unchanged.
TUSTEP is constantly being improved and expanded in order to facilitate solutions for new problems in the field of scholarly textdata processing and to take advantage of new developments of hardware and operating systems. Recently added features include a CGI interface and improved support for SGML / TEI / XML markup.
The following list contains a selection of TUSTEP programs for the basic operations of textdata processing and of organizational commands. The names in square brackets are the names of the commands.
In the Rosetta Code chrestomathy, you find TUSTEP solutions for roughly 150 of the tasks described there.
In October 1993, in Würzburg/Germany the International TUSTEP User Group (ITUG) has been founded as a forum of information and communication for TUSTEP users. It offers information on new features contained in TUSTEP, on courses and other meetings, gives access to sample solutions and useful procedures; a mailing list (TUSTEP discussion group) can be subscribed there.
Information about humanities projects relying on TUSTEP may be found on the ITUG web page and (for the years 1973-2003) in the minutes of the 90 Colloquia on the Use of Electronic Data Processing in the Humanities at the University of Tübingen. The reports of these Colloquia are published in Literary and Linguistic Computing (prior to 1985: ALLC-Bulletin); recent reports are available also online (see http://www.tustep.uni-tuebingen.de/kolloq.html).
Revision: December 2015
TUSTEP has been developed at the Zentrum für Datenverarbeitung of the Universität Tübingen, starting in 1966, from 1970 until 2003 in the "Abteilung Literarische und Dokumentarische Datenverarbeitung", directed by Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Ott, from 2003 with financial support from academic partner institutions. As from June 2011, TUSTEP is open source software under the revised BSD license.
For further information, see the TUSTEP homepage.