Resources: Digital Humanities Innovation Lab (DHIL)

What is Digital Humanities?

The Digital Humanities Manifesto
Descended from the counterculture-cyberculture of the 60s and 70s, the Digital Humanities (DH) are rooted in the utopian values of that movement, particularly: accessibility and the democratization of culture and scholarship. DH is all about the convergence of practices, of disciplines, of work. It focuses on co-creation and collaboration on the micro and macro scale, encompassing both qualitative and quantitative research and data. The Digital Humanities believes that research and research methods should be embodied, transparent, affect change, and be accessible to all—this means dismantling the Ivory tower.

Further reading:

Kirschenbaum, Matthew G. 2010. "What Is Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments?" ADE Bulletin, 55–61. (also PDF here.)

McPherson, Tara. 2009. "Introduction: Media Studies and the Digital Humanities." Cinema Journal 48 (2): 119–23. 


See Events and workshops for digital humanities skills workshops.

Sample DH courses at SFU

These are a selection of examples of DH course offerings. For current offerings, please consult department websites.


  • SIAT Courses: Numerous courses on media, design, communication, collaboration, and interface, among other topics
  • CMNS 226:  Digital Media Communication Techniques
  • STAT 641-2: Introduction to Statistical Computing and Exploratory Data Analysis - R
  • STAT 642-2: Introduction to Statistical Computing and Exploratory Data Analysis - SAS
  • ENGL 363: Studies in Digital Humanities: Theory and Practice


  • SIAT Courses: Graduate courses on computational art and design, research methodologies, and collaboration, among other topics

Are you teaching a course that would be of interest to students in the Digital Humanities? Please contact us.

Other training 

SFU Research Commons provides workshops and consultations supporting research data management and advanced research software such as NVivo, GIS, and programming with R and Python.  Services offered at all SFU campuses.

Digital Humanties Summer Institute [DHSI]
Diverse selection of courses on the tools, methodologies and theories that inform Digital Humanties practice. Courses combine discussion and hands-on learning to explore how computing technologies influence teaching, research, dissemination, creation, and preservation in different disciplines. Scholarships are available for most courses through DHSI, and the Library sponsors SFU students, staff, and faculty for a discounted registration.

Teach yourself

DHIL Research Guide
A multi-page guide that provides a basic introduction to finding digital humanities tools, communities, and support. Additionally provides a list including a wide array of tools often used by digital humanists and linked basic tutorials to get you started.

Browse through the list of tools below for more information as well as basic tutorials. 

Tools used in the DHIL

Content management

An open-source, flexible content management software used to build websites, apps and creating integrated digital frameworks. 

A free, flexible, and open source web-publishing platform. Originally created for the display of library, museum, archives, and scholarly collections and exhibitions, it’s often used for very metadata-heavy projects.


A maps and analytics software that allows users to import, create, manage, analyze and share spatial data.

  • Getting started: Learn ArcGIS—a resource with a plethora of lessons dedicated to learning ArcGIS. Most lessons require a license to some kind of ArcGIS software. Type “Get Started” into the Lesson Gallery search bar for introductory lessons.

ArcGIS: StoryMaps
A multi-modal tool to aid in the presentation of digital narratives. Used primarily in the presentation of spatial relationships, StoryMaps allows for the creation of custom maps, as well as the ability to add text, photos and video to your previously existing ArcGIS web maps and scenes.

A powerful graphing software that provides a way to explore data through visualization and network analysis.

Open-source graph visualization software used to present structured data as abstract graphs, flowcharts or networks. 

A data visualization and analytics tool used to present data as text tables, heat maps, spatial maps, pie charts, bar graphs, treemaps, scatter plots, line graphs, area charts, etc.   

An open-source, web-based app for text analysis.

Programming languages

PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor)
A scripting language that is especially suited to web development. 

A flexible programming language used for web development, text processing, network programming, system administration, Graphical User Interface (GUI) development (developing websites, apps), etc.

A programming language that allows users to implement complex features on web pages; any page that isn’t static (displays timely updates, interactive content, etc.) probably uses JavaScript.

Web application frameworks

A PHP framework for web development (web sites, applications). Symfony additionally has a set of reusable and decoupled PHP libraries that can be used a foundation for PHP applications. 

An XML-based, open-source software for NoSQL databases. eXist-db is considered both a database that allows data to be specified and sometimes stored in XML format, as well as a NoSQL document-oriented database (a database used to store, retrieve and manage document-oriented information).


An open-source, relational database management system. Based on a tabular design, a MySQL database uses a standardized language (SQL) to access the database, which is full of data that is related to each other by nature. It’s often used to develop websites and web applications. 


A JavaScript (JS) library meant to make using JS on your website much easier: jQuery wraps common tasks that usually require multiple lines of code into a single line. 

Markup languages

Standing for Hypertext Markup Language, HTML refers to text that can be linked to another web page. It’s a coding language that essentially tells a browser or app how to properly format text and images and gives a basic structure to your page.

Standing for eXtensible Markup Language, XML is a markup language much like HTML. It’s designed to store and transport data.

Standing for eXstensible Stylesheet Language, XSLT is both an XML format and a programming language. It is a set of instructions/rules for transforming data formats. Though primarily meant to transform varieties of XML to other forms of XML, it can also be used to transfrom various other data formats to and from one

The Text Encoding initiative (TEI) was developed to encoding machine-readable texts. TEI is an application of XML, and uses tag sets and rules to describe the structural hierarchies, divisions and characteristics of a text, including documents, audio and video files, and many other objects. 


Allows for easy project management through the creation of new projects, where you can add to-dos, create and upload documents and files, schedule check-ins and chat with team members. 

Google Drive
A file storage and synchronization service.

A code-hosting platform used for collaboration and version control (organizes versions/revisions of code). Git, a version control system is used a command line tool for the former. 

​​​​​​​An instant messaging service that eases team communication through the existence of channels, mentions, reminders, the ability to make audio and video calls, and integration of apps like Google Drive, GitHub, etc. 


Need to find the right tool for your project? Try looking in one of these comprehensive directories.

CDHI [Carolina Digital Humanities Institute]
Lists tools and resources for Digital Humanists, providing links and descriptions for DH toolkits, data management, content management, collaboration, and web publishing, among other categories.

TAPoR [University of Alberta]
A portal that allows you to discover text manipulation, analysis, and visualization tools, read tool reviews and recommendations, and tag, comment, rate, and review collaboratively. TAPoR provides digital scholars and humanists with tools in categories ranging from general analysis and annotation to web development. 

Visualization tools [McGill University]
List of visualization programs, online tools and APIs, and libraries.