Week Beginning 11th February 2013

I had an afternoon of meetings on Friday so it’s another Monday morning blog post from me.  It was another busy week for me, more so because my son was ill and I had to take Tuesday off as holiday to look after him.  This meant trying to squeeze into four days what I had hoped to tackle in five, which led to me spending a bit less time than I would otherwise have liked on the STELLA app development this week.  I did manage to spend a few hours continuing to migrate the Grammar book to HTML5 but there are still a couple of sections still to do.  I’m currently at the beginning of Section 8.

I did have a very useful meeting with Christian Kay regarding the ARIES app on Monday, however.  Christian has been experiencing some rather odd behaviour with some of the ARIES exercises in the web browser on her office PC and I offered to pop over and investigate.  It all centres around the most complicated exercise of all – the dreaded ‘Test yourself’ exercise in the ‘Further Punctuation’ section (see how it works for you here: http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/STELLA/briantest/aries/further-punctuation-6-test-yourself.html). In stage 2 of the exercises clicking on words fails to capitalise them while in stage 3 adding an apostrophe also makes ‘undefined’ appear in addition to the apostrophe.  Of course these problems are only occurring in Internet Explorer, but very strangely I am unable to replicate the problems in IE9 in Windows 7, IE9 in Windows Vista and IE8 in Windows XP!  Christian is using IE8 in Windows 7, and it looks like I may have to commandeer her computer to try and fix the issue.  As I am unable to replicate it on the three Windows machines I have access to it’s not really possible to try and fix the issue any other way.

Christian also noted that clicking quickly multiple times to get apostrophes or other punctuation to appear was causing the text to highlight, which is a bit disconcerting.  I’ve implemented a fix for this that blocks the default ‘double click to highlight’ functionality for the exercise text.  It’s considered bad practice to do such a thing (jQuery UI used to provide a handy function that did this very easily but they removed it – see http://api.jqueryui.com/disableSelection/ ) but in the context of the ARIES exercise its use is justifiable.

Christian is also wanting some further updates to the ‘Test Yourself’ exercise, specifically the option to show where the correct answers are in Stage 2, so there is going to be some further ARIES work in the next week or so.  This kind of testing is absolutely vital when developing apps where the logic is handled on the client side.  Different browsers implement Javascript slightly differently and I’ll need to ensure that all the major operating systems, browsers and hardware are tested.  Marc suggested getting the English Language Society to help with the testing, which I think will be a very useful thing to do, once we get to that stage.

I also spent a little bit of time this week reworking the layout for the ICOS2014 conference website, although there is still some work to do with this.  I’ve been experimenting with responsive web design, whereby the interface automatically updates to be more suitable on smaller screens (e.g. mobile devices).  This is currently a big thing in interface design so it’s good for me to get a bit of experience with the concepts.

Following on from my meeting with Susan Rennie last week I created a three page technical specification document for the project that she is hoping to get funding for.  This should hopefully include sufficient detail for the bid she is putting together and gives us a decent amount of information about how the technology used for the project will operate.  Susan has also sent me some sample data and I will begin working with this to get some further, more concrete ideas for the project.

I also began work on the technical materials for the bid for the follow-on project for Bess of Hardwick.  This is my first experience with the AHRC’s ‘Technical Plan’, which replaced the previous ‘Technical Appendix’ towards the end of last year.  In addition to the supporting materials found on the AHRC’s website, I’m also using the Digital Curation Centre’s Data Management Planning Tool (https://dmponline.dcc.ac.uk/) which provides additional technical guidance tailored to many different funding applications, including the AHRC.

On Thursday I had a meeting with the Burns people about the choice of timeline software for the Burns Timeline that I will be putting together for them.  In last week’s post I listed a few of the pieces of timeline software that I had been looking at as possibilities and at the meeting we went through the features the project requires.  More than 6 categories are required, and the ability to search is a must, therefore the rather nice looking VeriteCo Timeline was ruled out.  It was also decided that integration with WordPress would not be a good thing as they don’t want the Timeline to be too tightly coupled with the WordPress infrastructure, thus enabling it to have an independent existence in future if required.  We decided that Timeglider would be a good solution to investigate further and the team is going to put together a sample of about 20 entries over two categories in the next couple of weeks so I can see how Timeglider may work.  I think it’s going to work really well.

On Friday I met with Mark Herraghty to discuss some possibilities for further work for him and also for follow-on funding for Cullen.  After that I met with Marc Alexander to discuss the bid we’re going to put together for the Chancellors’ fund to get someone to work on migrating the STELLA corpora to the Open Corpus Workbench.  We also had a brief chat about the required thesaurus work and the STELLA apps.  Following this meeting I had a conference call with Marc, Jeffrey Robinson and Karen Jacobs at Colorado University about Jeffrey’s Wordsworth project.  It was a really useful call and Jeffrey and Karen are going to create a ‘wishlist’ of interactive audio-visual ideas for the project that I will then give technical input, in preparation for a face to face meeting in May.

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