Week Beginning 4th February 2013

One of my major tasks this week was to investigate possible timeline solutions in preparation for the Burns meeting next week.  I have previously created a timeline for the University’s ‘World Changing’ website (see http://www.worldchanging.gla.ac.uk/timeline/) that uses the Simile timeline software but I have been investigating other options as well as although Simile has great functionality it does look a bit dated these days.  For Burns we may also be constrained somewhat by the site being WordPress powered.  Although it is perfectly possible to embed any timeline software within a WordPress page we have to consider whether it might make more sense to use a solution that has already been properly integrated with WordPress and made available as a Widget.  This might make more sense as then content management could be handled by the WordPress Admin interface rather than having to create a structure to handle the content from scratch.  I identified three possible WordPress Timeline widgets:

  1. Simile Timeline: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-simile-timeline/ which is a WordPress wrapper for this timeline software: http://www.simile-widgets.org/timeline/
  • I’ve previously used Simile – see http://www.worldchanging.gla.ac.uk/timeline/
  • The WordPress plugin appears to use blog posts and categories as source data so we would need to create blog posts as timeline entries – I’m not sure if the plugin allows other data sources.  The non-plugin version can use XML or JSON as source files though.  If we use blog posts as source material we would have to ensure the timeline ‘blog posts’ and categories are hidden from the main ‘Blog’ section of the site.  However, it would be easy for people to create and work on timeline entries – the same approach as writing a normal blog.
  • Allows unlimited number of categories, filtering and searching
  • The interface is functional but not very flashy
  1. VeriteCo Timeline: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/timeline-verite-shortcode/ which is a WordPress wrapper for this timeline software: http://timeline.verite.co/
  2. JQuery Timelinr: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-jquery-timelinr/ which is a WordPress wrapper for this timeline software: http://www.csslab.cl/2011/08/18/jquery-timelinr/
    • Is also set up to work with blog posts, but original version works with plain HTML lists
    • Looks attractive but very limited functionality – no categories, no ‘overview’ bar – just dates,text and images

I also identified a non-Wordpress timeline solution that could also work very well:

  1. Timeglider: http://timeglider.com/widget/?p=intro
  • A very feature-rich timeline, allowing multiple categories, searching – see good example here: http://timeglider.com/widget/large.html
  • Uses JSON as a data source, meaning I would probably have to set up a spreadsheet template, or write a simple web form interface for creating / editing entries.

We will hopefully be able to discuss these possible solutions at next week’s meeting and make some decisions about which to use.

I made a bit more progress with the Grammar app this week, but due to other commitments I only managed to spend about a day working on it.  I’m still working through the grammar book content, and I’m not midway through Unit 7.  I will hopefully be able to finish the book next week and then I can move onto the exercises.

I had some further feedback from Christian this week about ARIES, and also received the good news that Mike MacMahon has agreed to record some sound clips for exercise 1 of ‘New words for old’ (see http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/STELLA/briantest/aries/spelling-5-new-words-for-old.html).  Currently this exercise asks the user to get a friend to read out some words so the user can try to spell them.  Once we have the sound clips I can embed these in the exercise and users will be able to hear the word and then attempt to spell it, which will make for a much more satisfying exercise.

I’m going to meet with Christian next Monday to discuss the app as there is one of the exercises that is behaving differently in her browser.

I spent a bit of time this week writing up notes from the various meetings I had last week.  I had been tasked with taking the minutes at the DROG meeting so I wrote those up and sent them to Jeremy.  I also wrote up my notes from my meetings with Alison and Jeffrey, and spent a bit of time thinking about their respective projects.  I did a bit of research for Alison about tablets and the possibility of us getting a donation of hardware from a company like Microsoft or Samsung.  It’s a bit of a longshot, but as we will need 30 tablets for the project it’s worthwhile investigating these options.

On Friday this week I had a meeting with Susan Rennie to discuss some possible upcoming projects.  This was a really useful meeting and I’m going to help Susan put a bid together for the University’s Knowledge Exchange fund.  We also talked about her Boswell project and the possibility of getting further funding to create a digital edition of the dictionary in future.  Her current project is primarily focussed on creating a physical book but she will be using TEI in the preparation of this which could then be used as the basis for a web version.

Also on Friday I met with Bill Kretzschmar, who will be working 20% at the University from September onwards.  It was really interesting to hear about some of the digital projects he has previously been involved with, such as the new version of the linguistic atlas project (http://www.lap.uga.edu/) and LICHEN, the Java based content management system and front-end  that was developed in collaboration with Oulu University in Finland.  Bill would like to see Glasgow use this system with some of the data we hold and there are certainly some possibilities here that could be explored.

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