Week Beginning 22nd July 2013

Another short week as I’m off on Friday, and all of next week too.  There’s not a massive amount to report this week.  I spent a bit more time working on the AHRC bid for Nigel, mostly just tying up a few loose ends and gathering some final costings.  On Tuesday I met with Stevie Barratt to help him with the Corpus Server.  He was wanting to set up a separate corpus instance specifically for DASG but ran into problems getting things set up.  I spent a fair bit of time going through old emails and trying to remember how we dealt with the software last time, as it has been several months since I last looked into Corpus issues.  Stevie and I spent a couple of hours going through things but although a little bit of progress was made we didn’t manage to crack to problem by the end of this time.  There is some issue preventing the install script from creating the required tables in MySQL, which is very odd as we have updated the privileges to be exactly the same as when we set things up last time and reloaded MySQL so the changes would take effect.  It was all a bit frustrating and it was disappointing not to be able to get to the bottom of things.  I hope Stevie manages to find the cause of the problem.

Other than corpus and AHRC related matters I spent some more time working on the mock-ups for the DSL website, including a fifth version of the interface plus adding homepage content to the mock-ups to see how the layouts look with actual content in place.  I emailed the URLs for the designs to the SLD people on Thursday and will continue to work on the mock-ups when I’m back from my holidays based on any feedback I hear from them.

Week Beginning 15th July 2013

This week was a short one, bookended by the Glasgow Fair holiday on the Monday and the Friday afternoon that I took as annual leave. Despite this it was a pretty hectic week, focussed primarily on the writing of an AHRC technical plan for a bid that Nigel Leask is putting together with a colleague in Aberystwyth. I spent the majority of the week researching the project and the technology that could be employed to ensure the project outputs come to fruition, meeting with Nigel, emailing the potential PI at Aberystwyth, Mary-Ann Constantine, and other people who will be involved in the project in some capacity, such as people at the Early Modern Letters Online project at the Bodleian Library (see http://emlo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/). A lot of time was also spent writing the technical plan itself, plus contributing to sections of the main bid. Graeme Cannon in HATII very kindly offered to review my technical plan, which was very helpful. On Friday morning I emailed a first complete version of the plan to Mary-Ann, and hopefully the bid will be submitted in the next week.
Other than bid related work, I managed to squeeze in another couple of Historical Thesaurus tasks (the main one being the upload and fixing of various hyphen forms that Christian had emailed to me), plus I made some further updates to the content of the Digital Humanities website. I also provided some advices to Justin Livingston in English Literature about text encoding and I added some new content to the Burns website in time for the anniversary of Burn’s death on the 21st.

Week Beginning 8th July 2013

This week has been gloriously hot and sunny, not exactly ideal conditions in which to be cooped up inside hunched over a keyboard.  However, I have made some good progress this week.  The biggest achievement has been completing development work on the new Historical Thesaurus website!  Woo!  Of course it is highly likely that further tweaks and refinements will be required over the coming weeks and months, but everything that was on my ‘to do’ list has now been done (other than tasks where I’m awaiting content from others).  You can view the new website here:


But note that this is a purely temporary URL and once the site goes live this URL will in all likelihood stop working.  The final tasks included creating a print CSS file so that when you print a page (e.g. a category) you don’t get all of the non-relevant parts of the web page such as navigation items.  I also updated the way subcategories appear on the site following a suggestion from Marc.  I had managed to omit the subcategory number from the lists of categories and the category page, so that all subcategories shared the main category number, so instead of ‘|01’ it was only displaying ‘’.  Marc also wanted the full hierarchy of subcategories to be represented in the titles too, which makes perfect sense.  I made these changes plus a bunch of others too, but it’s too hot on a Friday afternoon before a long weekend to go into too much detail about them!

Also this week I completed a first draft of the Grammar app, which is something of a relief.  It will require further tweaking but all of the interactive exercises are now in place, including the tortuous ‘general exercise’, which can be found here:


Good luck getting top marks in those!

Also this week I met with Nigel Leask to discuss a large AHRC bid that he’s putting together with Aberystwyth.  I’ll be contributing to the technical plan for this project and will hopefully continue to be involved with it if it gets funded.  I also updated the Burns website to finally fix the Twitter integration error, and also to add tow PhD students as Blog authors so they can post updates about their Highland Tour in a couple of weeks time.  I also made some further updates to the Digital Humanities Network website and spent a bit of time giving some advice to a postgrad student who had an idea for an app.

In addition to the above I also spent the best part of a day working on further mock-ups for the Dictionary of the Scots Language website, and these are coming along very nicely.  Hopefully in a couple of weeks time I’ll be able to share them with the other members of the team and get some feedback.

Week Beginning 1st July 2013

I was on Holiday on Monday this week and on Tuesday I continued with the redevelopment of the Grammar app, which is getting slightly closer to completion now.  I aim to have both the app and the web version completed by the end of July, all being well.  Also on Tuesday I met with Lloyd Ridgeon to discuss a project he would like to put together related to Sufi studies.  It was a good meeting and if the figures work out I should be able to start defining a specification for his website in the next month or so.

On Wednesday I began working on some flat HTML mock-ups of the new interface for the DSL website.  So far I’ve created a overall page interface for two versions, although I still need to actually create the in-page elements too.  I’ll probably create one more version as well, and once all three are in place I’ll distribute the URLs.  I also spoke to Chris about setting up a server for the project, and by the end of the week he had set up a dedicated server, which is great.

On Thursday I had an HT catch-up meeting with Christian and Marc, which as always was very useful.  Just about everything on my ‘to do’ list is ticked off and the few remaining items that were not ticked off were discussed and a course of action was decided upon.  I spent the remainder of the week going through these items and dealing with them (e.g. generating empty categories for parts of speech where there is a subcategory but no main category, fixing bugs in the date search, updating the ‘appe’ field to use the ‘lastdb’ field if this contains a value and creating a more prominent ‘back to search results’ option.

Week Beginning 24th June 2013

A rather late post this week as I ran out of time on Friday and was on holiday the following Monday.  I spent the start of this week finishing off all of the outstanding tasks relating to the HT redevelopment that I could tackle before meeting Marc and Christian again.  The biggest of these tasks was updating the advanced search to change the way dates can be searched.  Previously there were single ‘OE’ and ‘Current’ boxes, plus ‘to’ and ‘from’ boxes for first and last cited dates.  At the previous meeting we had agreed to change this so that ‘OE’ and ‘Current’ could be applied to first and last cited instead of supplying years.  It makes sense to handle it this way – now for example you can select a first cited date between OE and 1500, or a first cited date of OE and a last cited date of OE, if you just want to look at Old English words.  Other than updating the fields the date search uses and deciding on how to use stop words the HT is now pretty much completed.

I spent some time this week writing a brief requirements document for the redevelopment of the Dictionary of the Scots Language, or more specifically, a list of calls that the front end will need to send to the API, and the API will need to support.  There are about 10 calls that I think need to be supported, although once Peter has a chance to look through the document he may come up with some further ones.  For each call I specified the variables that will be passed to the API, the data the API should return, and the format this should take, an indication of the importance of the call, and a description of where and why the call is likely to be made.  Until I hear back from Peter there’s not much else I can do with regards to the requirements now.  I’ll try to get some server space set up for us to use for test purposes next week and after that I’ll begin working on some plain HTML mock-ups of the front end.

For the rest of the week I returned to the STELLA apps.  I’d had some feedback about the ARIES app that for the spelling exercise a backspace key would be really helpful, so I implemented that.  After that I got back into the development of the Grammar exercises, which is a bit of a slog.  By the end of the week I managed to get quite a lot done though, and I think I’m not at least two thirds of the way through the exercises.  It will be good to see the back of them!

I had a few chats with people this week about current and future projects, including Ruth Dunster in Theology who has a rather out of date project website should would like to move to Glasgow, and Robert Maslen who is planning on putting together a large text based project involving the BL which sounds really exciting.