Week beginning 21st October 2013

This week I polished off the remaining tasks related to the redevelopment of the SCOTS website (mainly just updating site text) and moved on to the CMSW website.  I made good progress with the redevelopment and by the end of the week I had completed work on all of the ancillary pages plus the search and browse mechanism.  I’m still midway through tackling the ‘view document’ page, but most of the functionality is in place, such as viewing the document, viewing the document metadata, highlighting search terms etc.

There is still work to be done, however, as CMSW is quite different to SCOTS in some respects, namely that it provides access to colour and greyscale scans of the texts.  In the original site some kind of HTML generator must have been used to create an individual HTML page for every image in the site (so many hundreds of pages).  I could update the design of all of these by creating a batch process, but I think it would be better to use just one single PHP script to generate the pages as required instead.  It’s a much more efficient way of doing things and will make updating the page design considerably easier in future.  I created a PHP script that ran through all of the image directories and logged the image filenames as a JSON file, which I will then use as the ‘database’ for generating a count of the number of images of each document, the thumbnail index page for each document and the individual webpage for each full-size page image.  I aim to get all of this done next week, all being well.

In addition to CMSW work I also gave some feedback to Jean about the web hosting agreement between the University and SLD.  I’m going to need to arrange a meeting with SLD people soon as well as I will be unable to attend next Thursday’s meeting.

I also attended a couple of meetings this week, firstly a Mapping Metaphor meeting on Monday and then a meeting with the Burns people on Wednesday.  The Mapping meeting was useful, especially as we discussed an abstract I have been involved n writing for a conference, and also the plans for the colloquium next year, where I will be running a testing session for the visualisation interface.  The Burns meeting was a good opportunity to meet the new staff who have recently started working for the project, and we also discussed some of the outstanding project ideas such as the timeline and the interactive map.  Hopefully we can get things moving with the map soon.

Week beginning 14th October 2013

I continued with the redevelopment of the SCOTS website for most of this week.  I completed work on the ‘Document’ page, adding in the facilities to view video clips, listen to sound clips and synchronise the speech with the transcriptions.  The multimedia clips still rely on the Quicktime plugin at this stage, and eventually I will migrate these to native HTML5 formats (MP3 and OGG Vorbis for audio, MP4 and OGG Theora for video), but that migration will happen some time down the line.  I also want to alter how the player controls and video window operate.  Currently they open in a separate browser window, but it would be better to keep the controls in a fixed portion of the main browser window to make it easier to operate on touchscreen displays and multi-browser window confusion.

After completing work on the document page I then began to tackle the Advanced Search page, which was rather tricky and time consuming to update, given that there are so many different parts to it – the search criteria selection, the overview, the map, the document list, the concordance and the ‘download multiple documents as a zip’ facility.  By Friday lunchtime I had managed to get all the functionality working with the new design.  The map will still need some major work in a future phase of redevelopment, however.  It still uses the Google Maps API 2 and Google has officially deprecated this now.  I’ll need to update everything to version 3 of the API, but this isn’t something to be tackled at the moment.

On Friday afternoon Wendy sent me the updated text for the website and I began to make the necessary changes.  I didn’t quite manage to get it all updated but will complete this next week.  After that I’ll tackle the redevelopment of CMSW which shouldn’t take as long as it is a simpler site (at least it appears to be – perhaps once I dig into it I’ll find that it has its own complications).

Other than SCOTS related stuff, I attended a couple of meetings this week.  The first was with Rhian Williams in English Literature to discuss a research project she will be embarking on after Christmas.  I gave her some advice about the sort of tools she could use to record her research and we will be meeting again some time closer to the start date of her project so I can help her establish some data structures.

The other meeting was another DROG meeting, the first one since June.  As always, it was a good opportunity to hear about other projects in the School that have a digital component and also to report back about the work I have been doing over the past few months.

Week beginning 7th October 2013

A very late and short report this week!  I was called for jury duty this week, and I had to turn up to court every day, mostly to sit around waiting to see if they wanted me.  On the whole they didn’t, although I was picked as a juror on Tuesday.  The trial only lasted a couple of hours before a plea bargain was accepted, though.  I still had to continue turning up each day after that, even though I had served on a jury, which I thought was a little unfair.  However, it is an important part of our civic duty so I didn’t mind really.

Due to all the time spent sitting around in court waiting rooms I only had about half a week where I was actually able to do any work, and I spent this continuing with the redevelopment of the SCOTS corpus website.  Pretty much all my time was taken up with the redevelopment of the ‘document view’ page, which has a lot of intricacies to it, such as search term highlighting and access to metadata and raw text versions.  I rewrote the search term highlighting Javascript code to use a more streamlined jQuery based approach, which achieves the same result in a fraction of the code.  I also slightly updated the functionality of the highlighting to enable users to turn off highlighting, or to enter a new term to be highlighted in place of the one passed from the search results page.  There are some situations where highlighting is failing to work, though.  I think this is a character encoding issue that was encountered in the old site some months ago.  It’s an issue with both the old site and the new one, so it’s not something my redesign has introduced.  It will need to be sorted at some point though.

In addition to the search term highlighting I implemented the options to view and download plain text versions of the documents and I also reworked the ‘view document information’ page.  Previously this was a separate page but instead I’ve made all the information appear in a ‘dialog’ style overlay.  The information is actually just located in a ‘div’ element in the page so the ‘print’ version of the CSS will be able to print all of this information out ok.  The old version of the ‘info’ page included a considerable amount of information that wasn’t actually all that useful – e.g. every type of ‘text medium’ was listed, including those that were not applicable – the not applicable ones were listed with ‘false’ after them.  This (in my opinion) really cluttered up the information and made it difficult to pinpoint the useful data, so I’ve got rid of all of the ‘false’ rows now.

There’s still a lot to do for the document page, specifically implementing the display of audio and video files.  And I’ll tackle this next week.

Week Beginning 30th September 2013

I spent a little bit more time working on Mapping Metaphor matters this week, but I devoted the bulk of the week to redeveloping the SCOTS corpus website interface.  Mapping stuff first though: On Monday I met with members of the team in the STELLA lab to look in detail at the working mock-ups I had previously created for the project.  It was a good opportunity to talk through the various features and discuss possible ways in which the functionality could be improved or extended.  There were some aspects that I wasn’t entirely clear about, such as search facilities, and these were cleared up at the meeting, plus some choices I’d made with regards to labels weren’t quite right either.  On the whole I think everyone was really happy with how the mock-ups are progressing, which is encouraging!

After the meeting I didn’t devote any more time to Mapping this week but decided to tackle another item on my ‘to do’ list, namely the redesign of the SCOTS corpus.  Wendy and I had previously decided on a new design from a bunch of static mock-ups I’d created so I set to work migrating all of the content and functionality to this new design.  I’m creating the new version in a test directory for now, and the new design won’t replace the existing site until it has been fully tested and approved.  I’ve made really good progress with the migration this week.  All of the ‘tools’ such as the collocation cloud and compair are now working perfectly (as far as I can tell) in their new locations with their new look and I’ve migrated all of the ancillary pages too.  I’ve also got the quick search, normal search and browse functions working, and I’ve made a start on the ‘document view’ page.  The latter still needs quite a lot of work before it will be fully functional, however.  After that there is only the advanced search left to tackle.

The new version of SCOTS can be accessed here:

http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/corpus/new-design/

But as always be aware that this is just a temporary URL – certain features might not work and once the new site goes live this URL will stop working.

Not much else to report this week due to the full-on nature of the SCOTS redevelopment.  I’ve been called for the dreaded jury duty next week.  Hopefully when I turn up on Monday they won’t actually want me, but we’ll see.