Pilot study: 2003–04
This eighteen-month work phase consisted of musicological investigations, technical development, scoping, consultation with users and legal experts, and the eventual production of an online variorum edition featuring two case-study pieces, the Preludes Op. 28 Nos. 4 and 20. Three types of functionality were originally envisaged: juxtaposition of discrete sources, superimposition of successive impressions in given filiation chains, and collation of elements from a range of manuscript and printed scores. The first two of these were successfully achieved in the pilot, with especially good results in respect of juxtaposition. This was therefore developed as the primary tool to be made available to users. Dissemination took place throughout the project in the form of workshop and conference papers, an article in BBC Music Magazine, and the emerging project website.

First developmental phase: 2005–09
The OCVE resource was considerably expanded to comprise some 2,200 images of primary source material for four of the key genres in which Chopin worked, namely Ballades (Opp. 23, 38, 47 and 52), Fantasies (Opp. 49 and 61), Preludes (Opp. 28 and 45), and Scherzos (Opp. 20, 31, 39 and 54). These digital images manipulated by users in numerous ways, including extraction, comparison, juxtaposition, and collation, all of which are key features of the variorum on offer. In Year 1 of the project, the technical team established standards and methods using nominated library collections and images obtained from CFEO for benchmark definition. The scholarly team undertook philological analysis while the project managers proceeded with library orders, database development, markup, and XML text conversion. Years 2 and 3 involved further scanning, markup, text preparation/conversion, and analysis of the sources, as well as additional development of the database and web interface. The final year of the project was spent finalising the metadata, refining and testing the interface design, and disseminating the results of the project.

Second developmental phase: 2011–15
The work during this phase was similar to the previous one. At the end of Phase 2, the OCVE resource had increased in size to c. 6,000 digital images of individual pages of primary source material of Chopin’s music, comprising music text and other elements of manuscripts, first editions, and later impressions produced during Chopin’s lifetime or after his death, along with associated metadata. Approximately 60% of this content was added during the second phase, including the primary sources for the Mazurkas, the Nocturnes, and the Sonatas. In addition, there were significant enhancements such as the development of an expanded online version of Christophe Grabowski and John Rink’s Annotated Catalogue of Chopin’s First Editions (Cambridge University Press, 2010), and a restructured and redesigned version of Chopin’s First Editions Online (CFEO). These were integrated into a new linked resource called Chopin Online.

Third developmental phase: 2015–17

This phase had three key aims:

  1. To engage in consultation and dialogue with other researchers across a broad international plane in order to develop a better collective understanding of what digital music editions can achieve and how they might be more effectively constructed and made available to an increasingly wide range of users;
  2. In light of the above, to define a viable conceptual and technical basis for an eventual digital edition of Chopin's works which would outstrip OCVE's current capabilities and those of other extant music editions, in respect of both scholarly utility and practical application of performance.
  3. To maintain the existing Chopin Online resource and enhance both the content and the user experience in so far as possible.