Week Beginning April 28th 2014

I spent most of this week continuing to work through the ‘to do’ list that I composed following last week’s DSL meeting. The biggest thing I managed to tick off this week was the implementation of the browse facility. This facility appears on the entry page and positions the current entry in dictionary order with the ten previous and following entries also visible. Users can then scroll through the dictionary using up and down arrows and jump to another entry page. It all works very well but I was hoping to get the traversal up and down to animate nicely – I.e. Rather than clicking the up arrow and then the next set of results loading in have these results added to the list and then have the list drop smoothly down to reveal the new results. I tried implementing such a feature myself using jquery and although I got it working for scrolling down the list I just could not figure out how to get it working for scrolling up the list. The issue is that jquery cannot scroll to hidden elements – not a problem for scrolling down because I simply made the last item scroll to the top. But I couldn’t figure out an easy way to do this for scrolling up. I probably could have done if I had spent several days on it, but I didn’t think it was worth doing so. Instead I explored jquery carousel plugins but I tried a couple and they also had trouble loading in the Ajax data and then scrolling to it. I’ve decided to just stick to the non-animated traversal for now but I may return to this conundrum in future.

Also this week I replaced the old, blue background search results with the more modern looking alternatives I had developed. I also made the entry page redirect to the search page and automatically perform a search if the word passed to it isn’t found in the dictionary. I made some tweaks to the layout of the entry page too. Gone is the ‘options’ box from the right hand column. The options to show / hide quotes and the etymology have now been moved to the top of the page as buttons, and these options now also appear in the fixed header when the user scrolls down the page. The ‘cite this entry’ option has now been moved to the ‘info’ box. I’ve also made the right hand column ‘fixed’ on screen so that the info box, the browse facility and the ‘share’ box stay on screen even when the user scrolls down the entry. I added in some jquery trickery to ensure that the column is only fixed if the content is shorter than the browser window – otherwise it would be impossible for a user to access the information below the browser. I also began to look into the possibility of highlighting search terms on the entry page. My initial attempts involved passing the search term from php to Xslt and then replacing this term anywhere in the XML with the term wrapped with a highlighting span. However, php only uses Xslt version 1 rather than 2, which limits the find and replace options that are available. With some very useful input from Graeme I have some possible solutions to try out, which I will continue to look into next week. I will also look into the possibility of just doing the highlighting using jquery, which might be simpler to implement.

On Thursday I attended a meeting for the Scottish thesaurus project, and it was great to get an update on the project. Things are progressing with the appointment of the developer and it’s looking like the timescales will work out quite nicely. After the meeting I had a further meeting with Jean, Christian and Susan about some additional work that I might be carrying out for the SLD over the summer. I probably shouldn’t say anything about it yet, but it’s likely to be some sort of app. I also made a new section of the Choral Burns website live.

On Friday I attended the second Digital Humanities Network Scotland workshop in Edinburgh. The focus of this event was on research data and it was a hugely interesting day, particularly the talk given by Jonathan Hope about visualisations and text mining, which included a lot of great examples of how visualisations can be used to pose new and interesting research questions about collections of text. It was also a nice opportunity to catch up with some old DCC colleagues who were attending the event.