React-based editing environment for ancient texts

Open Philology

Discovery, design, and development of a platform for studying and editing ancient Buddhist texts.



Product type

MVPWeb App




FrontendReactRuby on RailsUIUX



Understanding unique client needs

Open Philology is an academic research project at Leiden University in the Netherlands. The project is funded by European Research Council.

The client wanted to develop a web-based application for producing scholarly editions of historical documents. When other vendors showed little interest in their specific technical objectives, they approached Xfive.

Our team stepped in, ready to take on the challenge. According to the client, we demonstrated a confidence-inspiring willingness and ability to understand their unique needs.

Modern UX for the ancients texts

The UX played a crucial role in building this novel digital environment. We started with a detailed discovery process that resulted in a comprehensive Figma prototype.

Development proceeded in 2-week sprints. The meetings focused on any issues arising in the development process and on ideas for improvement either side would come up with in the time between meetings.

According to the client, management was transparent and fuss-free. They appreciated that the project managers quickly adapted to the client’s language and way of thinking, which was humanistic and not technical, and successfully translated that into technical concepts for the development team.

Powerful web application and enjoyable experience

The result is a powerful web application that allows multiple users to collaborate on creating, processing, and discussing scholarly editions of texts in multiple witnesses.

Open Philology editing platform screenshot

The editing application takes the output of a collation of multiple text witness files produced by the script CollateX and permits editors to select a primary text, establish lemmas, determine if variants attested in witnesses are significant or insignificant, offer emendations, make multi-user collaborative comments, and output the result in a form suitable for the production of a critical edition, online or in print.

An overlay dialog of the Open Philology app.

Client says that working with the Xfive team has been a consummately enjoyable experience from day one: each team member, in addition to technical prowess, showed flexibility, compassion, and a sense of humor.

Working with the Xfive team has been a consummately enjoyable experience.

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