Week beginning 25th November 2013

This week was mostly split between Grammar App updates and the Burns project.  I mentioned last week that I was hoping to complete the updates to the Grammar App exercises this week, but I’m afraid that hasn’t been possible.  I’d forgotten just how many exercises there were (e.g. you think there is one exercise but it actually consists of 12 separate questions, each with three stages, plus the answers that contain lots of notes.  Simply getting all of this information together in the new JSON format for sentences that I’ve designed takes quite a bit of time.  What I did manage to achieve this weeks is to complete the code that can process exercises that have multiple questions and multiple stages (for example Unit 3, Form Labels 2).  The code I have developed can cope with any number of stages and any number of sentences – all that is needed is a correctly structured JSON file to be fed into it and the code does the rest, and this includes saving a user’s answers and reloading the exercise at the correct point whenever the user returns to it.   It did take a lot of time to get it all working, and there are still a couple of quirks that I’ll need to iron out (e.g. until you select an answer in a stage the code doesn’t log that you’re on that stage and will return you to the one before if you navigate away from the exercise and then return to it).

In terms of ploughing through the redevelopment of the exercises, I’m now midway through Unit 7, meaning all of the types of answers have now been covered (phrase brackets, clauses, parts of speech etc).  It’s mainly now just a matter of converting all of the remaining sentences to the new JSON format, which is rather time consuming.  I also still have the very complex ‘general exercises’ left to tackle, but I’m hoping the code I’ve already developed will be able to handle these without requiring many (if any) updates.

For the Burns project I attended three separate meetings this week.  The first was with Kirsteen and Vivien to discuss a smaller Chancellor’s Fund project that will be running over the next couple of months to do with choral arrangements of Burns songs.  We discussed how the web presence for this project should function, and decided to follow a similar approach to the Editing Burns project – a WordPress based site that will use the same download facilities to provided access to recordings of the University choir singing the arrangements.  The second meeting was the main Centre for Robert Burns Studies staff meeting, at which I discussed Jonathan’s plans for a ‘word of the week’ feature and possible visualisations showing the connections between words and authors.  The final meeting was with the new CRBS administrator James Matthew.  James wants to improve the centre’s website and I gave him some advice on how the pages and the navigation structures could be improved.

I also spent some time this week working on my application to be a technical reviewer for the AHRC, and I hope to be able to submit this next week.