Week Beginning 24th September 2012

This week involved slightly less meetings than previous weeks, and for the first time since I started I managed to tackle some redevelopment tasks.  I managed to get access to some of the STELLA resources this week; access to some of the websites (but not all, yet) and access to the desktop-based applications.  Access to the latter was made possible by Arts Support bringing me one of the old STELLA lab machines for my desk.  I haven’t tried any of the applications yet but I have started to go through some of the server-based resources.

As a ‘quick win’ I tackled the issue of the ‘Basics of English Metre’ website (http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/STELLA/Metre/MetreHome.html) only working in Internet Explorer.  In other browsers none of the coloured text was working, and more importantly none of the Flash-based exercises were displaying.  The first problem was solved by removing non-standard comment tags from the CSS file while the Flash no-show was fixed by adding an additional tag (<embed>) within the <object> tag.  The <embed> tag was deprecated in HTML4 but has since reappeared in HTML5.  The Metre website isn’t actually HTML5 so use of the tag isn’t entirely valid but it does at least mean the Flash exercises are now working in Firefox and Chrome.  It should be noted that this is a temporary fix and eventually the whole website will be overhauled as there is still much about it that needs modernising.

Also this week I began to think about how to systematically implement an overhaul of the STELLA resources for both PC and Mobile devices.  I have begun the creation of mock-ups of both versions for one of the STELLA sites (ARIES – Assisted Revision in English Style) and should hopefully be in a position to show these to people next week for comment.  The redeveloped versions of the resources will be fully client-side, using nothing more than HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript.  This should be sufficient for all of the STELLA resources, but it will mean migrating functionality from a very broad array of current systems including Flash, Applets, JSP, Moodle, PHP, ancient desktop based applications and others.  It’s going to take a long time to migrate every resource, and the task will need to be fitted in around other priorities within to school, so it’s unlikely that anything will be completed in the near future.

Also this week I met with Flora Edmonds to discuss the work she has done on a variety of projects such as the Historical Thesaurus, the Thesaurus of Old English and Mapping Metaphor.  It was really useful to see the databases for these systems and to learn more about how they work.  Flora is in the process of migrating some sites to a new server and will potentially be updating the interfaces to the thesaurus websites.  I offered to give Flora some ideas for enhancements to the user interfaces and to help out with PHP based issues if any crop up.  I also gave some advice to Alison Wiggins about the possibility of making a mobile version of the Bess of Hardwick site.

I had a meeting with Marc and Wendy about legacy corpus issues and I learnt a lot more about the system used by the corpora and some of the compatibility issues that have been encountered.  I will spend some time next week identifying problems with the interface when using IE and Chrome and will then aim to address these problems.  I also read through a lot of documentation relating to the corpus websites and attended this week’s Course 20 lecture, which was handily about corpora.

My final meeting of the week was with Mark Herraghty of the Cullen project.  This took up most of Friday morning and was very useful.  Mark is at the stage where he is investigating different possible avenues for working with the XML encoded letters for searching and display on the public website.  I was able to talk him through a number of previous projects I have been involved with that took quite different approaches to this problem, for example the French (http://www.emblems.arts.gla.ac.uk/french/ ) and Italian (http://italianemblems.arts.gla.ac.uk/ ) Emblems sites and the House of Fraser Archive (http://www.housefraserarchive.ac.uk/).

I also attended Graeme Caie’s retirement do on Thursday, which brought back very fond memories of being taught Old English as an undergraduate by Graeme.


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