Champollion 2.0: The Scribe for Savvy Paleographers


In the Famicity blog “Paleography: The Study of Old Handwriting“, we explained what Paleography is and why it is important to genealogy research.

Today, we’ll discuss a computer software program called Champollion 2.0 written by Christophe Marin that will be a featured at the Innovator Showdown at RootsTech 2017.

What is Champollion 2.0?

Champollion 2.0 is a Window-based software program that facilitates the management and readability of historical documents (written or iconographic).

The software was named after Jean-François Champollion who was a French scholar and philologist. He was known primarily as the decipherer of the Egyptian hieroglyphs.

The idea of the software is to set the picture of an ancient manuscript next to its transcription.

With this software, a picture can be annotated while interacting with the text and pictures while making corrections on the picture to improve the quality. Information can be inputted into every project (activity in a picture, date, source, writer, place, parish, notes, etc.).

One of the best points of Champollion 2.0 is the treatment of paper transparency when the ink has passed through the document. Two tools are available to try to improve the readability.

How did Christophe come up with the idea of this software?

A family friend, a history teacher, showed him a genealogy wheel which had 10 generations and this became the starting point of the project.

He spent a summer in the early 1990’s in the archives. Early in the project, he was confronted with the problems of readability of the text.

The idea to take advantage of his image processing knowledge from his initial training became evident.

However, during the early 1990’s, the use of scanned documents was not widespread and the project was put on hold until 2012 when the technology was accessible to the general public. When this happened, it allowed Christophe to begin work on an image processing software program.

The other functionalities such as referencing, indexing, interaction with pictures and text, import/export of projects, etc., were added over time thanks to user requests and his own needs.

What are the differences between Champollion 2.0 and Transcript?

Transcript is a similar software program to Champollion 2.0 but only has very basic features. For example, Transcript allows some corrections of the picture and interaction.

  • Picture corrections are much more complete and allow a person to work on more difficult pieces. There is a particular automatic correction system of the picture. With a single click, the setting is added. In 90% of cases, this setting is enough. If not, this setting is a starting point for finer adjustments. An initial settings panel includes three basic settings which allow for refinement and an option to adjust more advanced settings. These settings allow you to make the most of your document. Additionally, there is an automatic backup and visual comparison with the original document to help prevent accidental alteration of the original picture.
  • Use batch processing to edit multiple images Settings can be saved and used on each image one by one or in bulk.
  • Image annotations can be used directly in a non-destructive method. Using a layer just above the image allows to number the lines, add notes, references and word transcription.
  • Text and image interactions You can scroll through images to place the corresponding line of the text at the top of the image and then you can access the corresponding line by clicking on the image. There is a text bubble that follows the mouse over the image so that you can see the original text and the transcription at the same time.
  • Project notations A project is a transcription of a collection of images and the included information (date, place, etc.). A project can be imported and exported from Champollion 2.0 to be shared with multiple users.
  • Image import PDF documents can be imported to extract and modify embedded pictures.
  • Information about the documents: Users can add additional information on their project with great precision. A person can perform a search within the work to find matches of defined criteria.

What are the next steps for Champollion 2.0?

There are a few updates currently in progress for the Champollion software.

  1. An establishment of a help guide to the paleographies. A user will be able to isolate fragments such as images, signs, letters, expressions, sentence or words and then reference them in detail to create a paleography library.
  2. A user will be able to share their library with others users.
  3. Champollion 2.0 is already available in English and French. Future releases will be available in Spanish and German.
  4. Apple iOS compatibility.

Champollion 2.0 will be at RootsTech 2017!

Christophe met a representative of FamilySearch during a genealogy show that encouraged him to enter Champollion 2.0 in the Innovator Showdown at RootstTech 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah February 8-11, 2017.

The Innovator Showdown contest aims to reward software and technology innovations that enhance the work of genealogists and historians.

How can you get Champollion 2.0?

The Champollion 2.0 can be purchased and downloaded from this website.

The software provides a 10-day free trial which starts from the date of installation. After the trial period ends, you can purchase the software from the website for 39.90€.

About Christophe Marin

Christophe has always been passionate about electronics and programming, and his education and career opportunities have always led him to a lot of good times and challenging projects.

Christophe graduated college in 1989 in scientific French C baccalaureat”. In 1992, he received his D.U.T, which means university technology diploma in electronics and industrial informatic. In 1996, he received his engineer diploma in microelectronics and automated systems at the French School I.S.I.M” which is now called Polytech.

He became interested in genealogy in 1990 and has written many small programs in order to transfer data easily from miscellaneous formats or to compute links between persons and build genealogical charts. He now has a database with more than 60,000 profiles that includes 4,500 known ancestors.

Christophe lives in southern France in a small town called Saint-Just where he develops the Champollion 2.0 software.