Data Modeling and Website Building in the Digital Humanities

If you are doing research in the humanities or social sciences or have a significant collection of data or images, you need a digital database.

And I can build it. With your help.

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Software architect and developer in the digital humanities

My name is Amir Simantov and I have planned and developed several databases for scholars in the humanities. Together with the researchers, I have built digital collections based on extensive data modeling process. You and I can work together to make your research a success, as well. Myself, I have 20 years of computer programming experience, developing software and building databases. I have also developed and delivered programming courses. In the last 10 years I empower researchers with the software they most need to make an impact on their careers.

You may contact me.

Trusted by Universities

Prominent Clients

Throughout the last decade I was honored to work with scholars from great institutions with the some of the best humanities departments.

Columbia University

"One of the many assets that Amir brings to the table is his unique ability to imagine the unknown capacities and trajectories of a nascent project. As a result of my many deliberations with him, I learned a great deal about what I wanted to achieve in the first place and what more the database could do for me. Amir's intellectual curiosity, selfless dedication, uncompromising eye for details, rigorous documentation, and ability to think ahead allowed him to become the conscience of the project, often veering my team and me in the right direction and saving us from betraying our own goals and principles. I cannot imagine the project without him."

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Let's Work Together!

I build an online database by following an adequately administered process involving the data curators and the technical team. By joining hands, I ensure that I use the technology skillfully to address the specific requirements of your collection. You are always involved and informed during the process. The process is flexible to your needs, and I will happily cater to your needs within the confines of the standing procedures. Listed below are the stages I usually follow in the process of turning your data into a “live” digital database.

First Discussion

In our initial one-hour video meeting, I make sure that I can indeed serve your needs. I get to understand briefly what your datasets are (findings, documents, etc.), what you expect the online collection to achieve, and what your long-term goals are (even your greatest expectations regarding the research or database). If we decide to work together, we move on to the next stage.

Specifying Structure

You know best what your data objects are and the relationship among them. I will apply this knowledge correctly and funnel it into a computerized system. This process is called "data modeling," in which you are fully involved. You do not need technical knowledge. During our discussions, you provide the necessary information, and we put it to work. We will also discuss your future needs as we are designing the system (even if we don't implement them in the first phase of your project).

Specifying Behavior

I want to give users an efficient method of using the database. We define the types of users who can use the site and classify their needs. We then define the ways users search for data and how it is best to serve them the results. We also specify how data contributors are authorized to add data to the database and the way the data can be edited and published.

Specifying Presentation

You want your online database to be attractive and user-friendly. At this stage, we bring in a graphic designer who makes sure that the essence of the database is understood. You may provide links to websites whose graphics you like as a general reference for the look and feel of your online database. The graphic designer comes up with suggestions that you can accept, reject, or ask to change.


My team and I can now begin constructing the online database. During this stage, I supply you with alternative system configurations. These are usually more minor issues that we did not finalize in previous stages. We have regular meetings where I can explain the alternatives, answer your questions, and share our progress.


Once built, we put the database online at a web address known only to you. You then see what it looks like and behaves, testing it using the specified user types. In this stage, you will probably find bugs that we did not catch ourselves; you report them, and I fix them. You can also request some small, last-minute changes, and if at all possible, we will try to make them in this stage.


You may have an existing database in another format, such as an older website, spreadsheets, structured documents, etc. We discuss which datasets to import into the new database and the best way to do so. We do that while maintaining the relationship among the existing data records and preserving the coherence of the new database. We do another round of testing to enable you to check the actual results of the data import and confirm it.

Going live

You or your peers can now add data to the well-structured database via the easy-to-use interface. You decide whether to make it publicly accessible (and accessible to search engines like Google) or, if you prefer, to restrict it to your peers, who can enter with a username and password. The database is designed and built to serve you permanently and is now active – it can grow both in size and in the number of collaborating contributors.


I offer ongoing support for clients if they need it. A modern digital database is a "living creature" which should be properly maintained. It includes mostly behind-the-scene operations such as security updates, small server tweaks, etc. I am also available for you if you have any questions or want to discuss new ideas.


I supply documentation files for all the specification stages and the building stage, so you are free to choose your service provider. If you find me suitable and are happy with the services I offer, we can continue working together. A few months after the database has gone live online, you may have more ideas for improving it. We can enhance its performance, change aspects of its presentation and add new content types to its structure.

We may repeat some of the stages whenever we want to develop and enrich your digital database further.

"Amir had a far-sighted vision for our project and meticulously planned out every stage of development. He was accessible and on-task, and he regularly discussed everything with us, down to minor details. We are now thanking him for his insistence on separating structure, content, and presentation and for his patient explanations: we found that Amir designed a database that made it easy to work with complex relations. It was robust and flexible enough to accommodate even unexpected sources of data."

University of Chicago

Projects Showcase

The research fields below are, of course, just examples, and we can build a database with the correct data types that fit your specific data. Both examples involved importing thousands of data records from older databases while keeping the relationships among the content types intact.

Culture Heritage Preservation Database

Jewish Galicia project is a true trilingual genealogy and cultural heritage research website. The database contains a dozen entity types with various relationships among them. It now holds more than 65,000 entities (people, communities, documents, organizations, buildings, tombstones, bibliography items, cemeteries, maps, catalog cards, and more). The researchers and I did the project in collaboration with the University of Haifa.

Jewish Galicia project sample

Prosopographical Database for Indic Texts

Pandit project seeks to document and study the works of various authors in Indic literature. The data model includes eight main entity types with dozens of relationships among them and more than 100 properties to divide the data into. The database itself currently contains more than 60,000 entities (sources, works, manuscripts, extracts, people, sites, and institutions). The project was developed for a history researcher, and now is being used with the collaboration of several universities and institutions around the world.

Pandit project sample

Regional History of Medicine

MidEastMed project (yet to be fully published) is an extensive and complex historian research database of the activities of medical professionals associated with Palestine-Israel at the end of Ottoman rule and during the British Mandate. The data model includes ten entity types with complex relationships among them. The database itself holds data gathered from more than 500 bibliographical sources about 10,000 people associated with more than 27,000 activities that took place at more than 1,700 institutions in more than 1,200 cities and villages. The project was done in collaboration with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

MidEastMed project sample

Commentary Comparison in the Italian Renaissance

"Aristotle's Physics in the Renaissance" is a pilot database that documents and analyzes the commentaries on Aristotle's works during the Italian Renaissance. For each section in a text, the website displays related sections - the ones that the observed section mentions and the ones that mention the observed section. A mention may or may not correspond in location with the observed section; its form may be a citation, a paraphrase or an allusion; and its judgement kind may be endorsement, criticism or neutral.

Commentary Comparison project sample

Simplified Entity Ralationship Diagram of a Project

Developed for the Commentary Comparison in the Italian Renaissance project.

Simplified Entity Ralationship Diagram sample

Specification of Entity Type Fields

The researcher and I are now in the data modeling phase.

Court cases project sample

"Amir has a profound understanding of the client's needs and wishes, and a far-sighted vision. He helped me establish, under enormous time pressure, a prototype of an academic digital research tool that far exceeded my expectations, also allowing room for potential future developments of which I hadn't thought initially. His devotion and work capacities are exceptional, as well as his dedication to the project. Amir's flexibility and originality also helped surmise obstacles whenever they occurred, and he was fully aware and sensitive to time and budgetary constraints. In short, Amir combines intelligence, creativity, hard work, and an attentive ear to the customer's needs. Without his support, I could not have made my vision come to life, and I warmly recommend his services."

University of Hamburg

Contact me

There is no obligation on your part, and after I gain an understanding of your goals, I can give you a brief overview of how your digital database can be done. Please contact me now on and tell me about your project so we can schedule our first video meeting at a time that suits you best.

Of course, I would appreciate it if you share information about my services with your colleagues :)

Thank you!