The Dictionary of Sydney uses an open-source platform called Drupal for encoding and presenting historical information about Sydney online. Content is structured around entities, using controlled vocabularies and subjects. Information relating to each entity appears in context.

All the text and metadata in the Dictionary is encoded in extensible markup language (XML) using text encoding initiative (TEI) standards. Text is tagged semantically, to identify links to related information.


The Dictionary’s content was originally aggregated and curated on the Heurist Platform developed by Arts eResearch (formerly Archaeological Computing Lab) at the University of Sydney. In 2016/2017, the content was migrated to a customised version of Drupal developed by the Digital Experience Division at the State Library of New South Wales.


The design and build of the main Dictionary website was originally undertaken jointly by Arts eResearch and StudioEmotion design. In 2016/2017 this design was largely recreated by the Digital Experience Division at the State Library of New South Wales when the content was migrated to Drupal.

The blog pages of this site were designed by Michelle Catteril and built using WordPress with a template by Divi.


While the content appearing in the Dictionary of Sydney has been licensed from others, the model into which these items are placed is original work of the Dictionary of Sydney. This includes creating the ontological structures, set of historical relationships, subject thesaurus, and other elements within the website. The Dictionary of Sydney has created a unique model and asserts copyright in it. For further inquiries regarding this model, please contact the Dictionary.

Text and multimedia

For information on copyright relating to text and multimedia in the Dictionary, click here.

Detail from MS Hill's 1888 map 'The City of Sydney',  a birds-eye view over the city looking to the south and west across Darling Harbour.

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