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Orlando Mandala



Orlando Mandala allows you to engage with Orlando Project materials in news ways, by looking at the ways patterns work across the whole set of author entries. Entries appear as dots around the periphery. You create colourful magnets and assign values to them, including values based on Orlando’s semantic markup. These magnets draw the dots into the centre space. The text viewer to the right, alllows you to see the matches for your magnets in context.


  • A copy of the Mandala browser and a copy of the Orlando database.


  1. Click on the appropriate icon to run Orlando Mandala.
  2. Click on the Open File button
  3. Select the Orlando XML file from the directory in which teh program resides (it will have “orlando” in its name).
  4. Using the “Dots Represent” picklist select //ENTRY
  5. Click Load.
  6. An empty magnet is preloaded. Set up the criteria for it and watch the dots gather to it. For a free-text search on all XML fields, type the search text in the box and hit return. To narrow the search, first select an XML field from the picklist above the search box. You can also choose to see a type-ahead response while typing by clicking on the checkbox called “Search as you type.”
  7. Create the next magnet, and fill in its criteria.
  8. Iterate as desired.
  9. Read items in the panel on the right by clicking them or lassoing them in the main circle.
  10. Drag items to temporary storage if you find you do not want them in your results set.
  11. Export items from the reading panel for further reading.

===Example=== You might be interested in the question: do women writers who have children write less than women writers without children? To address this question, you could load the Orlando collection, and make each dot represent a woman writer. Create magnets 0-9 representing numbers of children. You see immediately that there are diminishing numbers of women writers for each number of children, but there are some writers for every number. However, maybe the ones with more children wrote less. So you create new magnets dealing with measures of prolixity, by looking at the author summary tag, which summarizes a writer’s achievements, for the words “prolific” or “numerous” or “many.” It appears that by these measures, having more children equates to being more prolific. Now the third step is to access the documents, either by export or by logging into Orlando, to pursue further details.


A screencast explaining how to use Mandala is here:

Suggested Activities

  1. Try to find all entries that mention “vivisection.”
  2. See what overlap there is between vivisection or anti-visection and people who studied medicine.
  3. Investigate people’s attitudes to animals in their writings.


Advanced Tips

  1. You can use regular expressions to set up magnet values, allowing you to have several tags, for instance, attracted to a single magnet.
  2. You can also search on tag attributes.

===Who has worked on creating it===

Mandala was developed with funding from SSHRC by Stefan Sinclair, Anthony Sapp, Matt Patey (McMaster University), Stan Ruecker, Oksana Cheypesh, Constanza Pacher, Rhiannon Gainor (University of Alberta), and Sandra Gabriele (York University). Orlando Mandala was developed in partnership with Susan Brown and Jeffery Antoniuk. Mark Bieber has worked on the web version of Orlando Mandala that works through the Orlando API.

Where to read about it

Susan Brown, Stan Ruecker, Jeffery Antoniuk, Sharon Farnel, Matt Gooding, Stéfan Sinclair, Matt Patey, Sandra Gabriele. "Reading Orlando with the Mandala Browser: A Case Study in Algorithmic Criticism via Experimental Visualization." Digital Studies / Le champ numérique 2.1 (2010). Link here

Brown, Susan, Patricia Clements, Isobel Grundy, Stan Ruecker, Jeffery Antoniuk, Sharon Balazs, Stéfan Sinclair and Matt Patey. “Thinking Beyond the Text: Using the Mandala Browser to Explore Orlando.” Paper presented at the Society for Digital Humanities/ Société pour l’étude des médias interactifs annual conference at the 2008 Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities, University of British Columbia. June 2-3, 2008.

Gainor, Rhiannon, Stéfan Sinclair, Stan Ruecker, Matt Patey, and Sandra Gabriele. [Forthcoming]. “A Mandala Browser User Study: Visualizing XML Versions of Shakespeare’s Plays.” Visible Language 43(1). 2009.

Ruecker, Stan. “Experimental Interfaces Involving Visual Grouping During Browsing.” Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research. 1(1). 2006.

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