space Studies
Sources Dates Indices Topics1 Topics2 Reference Texts


Guide to Consultation

With the HTML representation of the digital archive, The Years of the Cupola, over nearly 1,800,000 files with responses to queries regarding the corpus of documents can be consulted with an ordinary internet browser. This rich indexing structure leads to the core of the digital archive, the entries for single documents, fully transcribed and analyzed.

The available functions are designed to render consultation of the archive simple and intuitive. The following explanation of the general organization of these functions may however prove helpful:


Every page of the textual archive, at every search level, has THREE FUNCTION BARS, offering functions of different nature.

1. The top horizontal function bar displays the types of search that can be activated by buttons. It is always present and active; the active function is highlighted in white.

  1. Sources: the archival collocation of the documents
  2. Dates: dates of the documents or dates cited in the documents
  3. Indices: by name, place and institution; search functions by item string or by single words
  4. Topics 1: guided research by subject categories
  5. Topics 2: supplementary research by single words in subject subcategory specifications
  6. Reference: search with reference tools: document summaries, hypertext relations, cross-references to other records, bibliography
  7. Texts: direct interrogation of words in original edited texts

2. The vertical navigation bar at left shows the search options available as the user navigates within the logical structure of the archive. The options are context-sensitive, according to the search choices already selected and the interrogation level reached. There may be multiple levels, appearing in descending order from the general to the particular.

Example, in date category:
date type – year – month – day
  • The active position is highlighted in red.
  • As the left bar can extend vertically, it may be necessary to scroll down to visualize all available options.
  • Options are given only when responses to them are currently available in the database.
  • The options at the most detailed level may be either segments of alphabetical or numerical indices, or else (in guided research in the Topics category) relatively limited search categories, each of which gives access, on the subsequent level, to lists of all the relevant entries with their free-text specifications according to the terminology of the documents.

3. The lower horizontal help bar at the bottom of every page activates several basic functions which are always available, as well as other functions useful for scrolling the records of the archive, active only when a document has been called up.

  1. Stable functions
    • Top – moves back to the start of the page.
    • Return – returns to the page viewed previously (the browser’s return can also be used).
    • Help – opens this guide.
    • Contact – access to page with e-mail addresses to contact us.
    • Home – returns to home page of the project; from there a click on the image of the cupola at top left will open the home page of the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore.
  2. Scrolling of documents
    • Docs. – permits scrolling of the documents of the digital archive according to archival collocation (based on document code, containing letter of archive, identifying number of the archival unit, number of leaf, progressive lettering for each act).
    • Date – permits scrolling of documents in chronological order.

The MAIN PANEL of the screen changes aspect and function choice according to the level of research attained.

1. Search definition guide to research based upon the options so far selected, with brief explanation of the active position and indications for the next step.

2. Lists of words and items: in the Indices, Topics 2, Reference and Texts functions, the selection of a segment of indices in the left navigation bar gives access to a page in the central panel in which all the elements contained in the group can be browsed. A second column indicates the number of occurrences of the single elements. The selection of a word or item leads to the page with list of the documents corresponding to the element requested.

3. Lists of documents having the requisites ordered by the user. This page presents three columns with the essential identifying data of each document; an additional fourth column appears as needed to furnish the context of the term queried or display the specifying texts present for the chosen category.

  1. Document: the unique number assigned to each individual act. This code number synthesizes all data about the source collocation: letter for archive, archival unit collocation translated into Arabic numerals, leaf number and finally letter indicating the act's position in the sequence on the page.
    Example: the second act on c. [“carta” or folio] 3 verso of the book II 1 70 of the archive of the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore (monogram “O”) is coded thus: O0201070.003vb
  2. Date: document date.
  3. Summary: brief synthesis of the act’s content.
  4. Context or Results of query, Specification: the context or specifications corresponding to the element being searched.
    • The data of the page can be ordered according to any one of the columns by clicking its title at the top. A vertical red arrow appears at the top of the order-active column.
    • The words and items selected from the indices appear in red at the top of the page. By clicking on the black arrows to the sides it is possible to call up the terms immediately adjacent to the element currently being searched without starting a new query.
    • If a query returns very long lists, these will occupy several pages that can be called up for viewing in clusters of 150 items by clicking on the numbers displayed at the top of each page. Documents with more than one element corresponding to the terms of the query produce separate lines for each “hit”.
    • It is possible to access the complete entries for single documents by clicking on the document’s code number in the first column of the lists.

4. Entry for each document, articulated into two parts.

  1. The essential identifying data for the document (date, archival collocation, type, summary of contents) and a complete transcription of the act supplied with appropriate editorial annotations. This first part of the entry also comprises bibliography and relational links with other documents of the digital archive, when present.
    • The arrows (stair) preceding the information inserted in the document entries are active as backlinks, or “stairs” to step up to another search level.
      Example: The stairs arrow on the archival collocation leads to the description of the archival unit or book, where other documents in the unit can be selected leaf by leaf.
    • It is possible to search for words in the text of the active document using the internet browser.
    • Links to related documents are active and will directly call up acts identified by the editors as parallel redactions to the document under consideration or as texts to which it specifically refers (as in the case of a revoked deliberation).
  2. The analysis carried out on the document in accordance with the structures foreseen by the project (indices, topics for guided research, documentary and chronological references).
    • The “stairs” indicated by arrows in front of the index and subject elements permit the user to climb back to the preceding research level.
      Examples: from a name, climb back to the index level whence other acts containing the same name can be searched and collected. The “stair” in front of each subject leads back to all the entries for that category.
    • The word GROUP in some topic categories refers to a series of names in the indices; selecting the word GROUP yields a new redaction of the entry with all the names involved in the group highlighted.


Image viewing takes place in an environment distinct from the textual edition, allowing both browser tabs to remain active for comparison. For an optimal use of the various viewing options, a fast Internet connection is advisable. The viewing functions are divided into two levels.

1. OVERVIEW: Context and navigation. Access to images is afforded, at the level of the entries for individual documents, by clicking "view image" at top. The initial view shows the full-page image of the leaf on which the document appears (or the first leaf if the act continues to another) with the area occupied by the act under consideration graphically framed (it may be necessary to scroll the image). The left bar furnishes a series of functions to contextualize the image, to coordinate the photographic material available for the current page and to navigate within the virtual archive.

  • The options at the top (Archive, Document code) have "stairs" to return to the textual archive at either the leaf level in order to consult the list of documents on it, or to the single entry for the current document.
  • More information about the nature of the current image (digitized microfilm, photography with special lighting and image processing, etc.) is available for all the images presented, full-page as well as details.
  • The map of documents button gives access to a full-page image with all the acts mapped and marked with the relative code number (green and blue). If disactivated, the leaf is shown without mapping. It should be remembered that the transcription of single acts excludes certain general annotations (date, subscription, etc.), which may remain outside the document map but are fully visible and accessible in the initial and subsequent views of the full page and its details.
  • The browse pages arrows review the other available images of whole pages. This function allows the user to leaf through all the leaves of the manuscripts, for which complete visual documentation is present (in the prototype, only codex II 1 70).
  • The map of details button is present when detailed photographic documentation is available to enhance the legibility of damaged codices. This function presents the full-page image with superimposed red frames of details: to access them, click inside the marked area. The map can be disactivated by reclicking the button. The mapping of details also appears at the passage of the mouse along the full page image. Note that when two detail maps overlap, the uppermost of the two maps will be called up. The detail map can be disactivated with a second click. It can remain active together with the document map in the same window, helping to identify the details useful for a line of research.
  • After a detail has been called up, the browse details arrows allow the user to review all details available for a leaf, moving backwards and forwards.
  • The back to full page arrow calls back the full-page image from any detail view.

2. DIGILIB (Digital Document Library): Image management. For every image it is possible to access a second environment equipped with image management tools. The image active at the time of the selection of this new environment (full page, mapped section of full page) reappears, reframed, in the program's viewing field. Digilib image management is also available for photographic details.

The main functions of Digilib are scaling and framing of the image in the viewing field. These commands act upon the maximum-resolution image resident on the site's server, permitting the expedited net transmission of only the requested fields. The usefulness of enlargements for reading texts naturally depends upon the resolution of the image in question which varies according to the type of photography (from 300 dpi for direct digital imagery to much more reduced parameters for details made under special lighting). The following buttons are available:

  • Zoom area defines a rectangular area within the image that will then be enlarged to the full size of the Digilib viewing field. Activate with three distinct mouse clicks: first on the command button, second on the upper left-hand corner of the box to be drawn, third on the lower right-hand corner of the box. (Release mouse with each click, do not drag.)
  • Zoom point enlarges an area to the viewing field size around a point on the image selected by the user. To activate, click on the button and then on the desired point of image.
  • Zoom out restores the full-frame size of any zoomed image. This function will bring up the full-page view even for images viewed in Digilib starting from a single document. In such cases four red markers record the boundaries of the rectangle enclosing the initial document.
  • Move to moves the center of framing without changing the zoom level. This allows reading to continue beyond the edges of a zoomed image. Any marks affixed by the user (see below) will remain in the newly framed image.
  • Scale changes the scaling of an image without cutting it to the size of the viewing field. Scale 1.0 shows the image coterminous with the dimensions of the viewing field (the initial view); 2.0 twice the measure of that field, and so forth. Scroll bars appear alongside the main window for viewing large-scale images. Since the larger the image, the longer the Internet time needed to download it, this function is primarily recommended when a continuous view of the entire image treated is desired. Note that from this position the zoom out button works in reference to the scale currently selected.
In addition, two functions for comments and communications regarding the images are available in Digilib:
  • Mark allows the user to mark the image virtually. Up to 8 numbered marks can be placed by clicking first on the "mark" button and then on the point to be marked (or up to 4 if the first 4 have been used by the program to define a portion of a whole page). These comments can be transmitted via the Reference function.
  • Reference activates a link for the transmission of the current image complete with markings. Choose LaTeX or HTML mode, copy the complete URL furnished and "paste" it in the means of communication chosen (e-mail, HTML document, etc.) to allow new direct access to the image as marked.
No programming has been undertaken for the printing of images from Overview or Digilib, although some browsers will allow rudimentary printing procedures on the second level.

For copyright norms regarding photographic reproductions of the manuscripts published on this site, please see the copyright section accessible from the home page. Images of manuscripts are made available exclusively for personal and scholarly use of individuals and cannot be reproduced in electronic or traditional publications without the express written consent of the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, which is the holder of all rights thereof.


The STUDIES button present on the top horizontal bar of the Archive gives access to the section of the online edition dedicated to research based upon the documentary corpus. This environment opens with the Index of available studies and general editorial information.

  • Clicking on a highlighted title in the index opens the entry page of the essay with the invitation to choose between the fully interactive web HTML version and the PDF version, designed for clean editorial printing in the common A4 format.
  • The ARCHIVE button present on the top horizontal bar of the Studies section provides access back to the digital archive of documents.
  • Every document of the edition cited in the studies of the Digital Library can be consulted in its full entry by clicking on its highlighted unique code number, whether in the text, the notes, the tables or other analytical structures.
  • A backlink system active from the Archive alerts the user to a reference to the current documentary entry in the studies and opens the HTML page of the relevant essay with search function pointing to the exact position of each such occurrence.
  • An expandable index is available for the studies of the Digital Library during consultation of both the HTML and PDF versions. This tool points the reader to the various sections of the essay and remains at hand during the scrolling of its text.
  • Both the essay and the documentary texts remain open as browser tabs until the user chooses to close them.
  • The HTML versions offer other convenient functions, including the option of opening the auxiliary tools present (graphs, tables, illustrations) in separate popup windows which can remain in consultation while the user scrolls ahead in the reading of the main text.
  • For further indications on the use of the studies in HTML and PDF format, please see the Avvertenza notice present at the opening page of each essay.
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