Week Beginning 28th July 2014

My time this week was mostly split between four projects.  First and foremost was DSL redevelopment work.  I went across to Edinburgh for a meeting with Ann and Peter on the Thursday and we spent the morning going through the outstanding tasks, looking at the website and the API and deciding what else needs to be done before the launch and how we should proceed.  It was a very useful meeting and my ‘to do’ list (which had been getting rather short) was extended greatly as a result of the meeting.  The website will be launched on September the 12th and we should have everything done and dusted before that date.  In addition to attending the meeting I also continued with the development tasks, including fixing some issues with cross-references and updating the way the XSLT handles certain elements.

The second project I worked on this week was the Scots School Dictionary app.  I’ve now completed a first version of this app – really just a website at the moment, but with all data stored in locally hosted JSON files and all logic being carried out in the browser via Javascript.  The interface is fairly rudimentary at the moment and although I will be making changes to it I think it’s probably best to keep it simple and uncluttered.  Functionality is split into ‘browse’ and ‘search’, accessed via links at the bottom of the screen.  When using ‘browse’ you can navigate between letters using the ‘Previous’ and ‘Next’ buttons or you can jump directly to a letter by selecting the ‘Choose Letter’ button.  Switch from Scots to English and back can be achieved using the tabs.  Click on a word to view the word record, which includes access to the sound files where applicable (see “A’bodie”, for example).  When viewing a word record you can navigate through each record individually using the ‘Previous Word’ and ‘Next Word’ buttons.

The search facility currently replicates (as far as is possible) the functionality of the CD-ROM search facility, although I’ve updated it to allow you to combine region with word search rather than them being separate.  It’s possible that the search will need some further work to make it easier to understand. Currently a search has to contain text as well – e.g. you can’t just select a region and view all of the words.  This might need updated too.   After performing a search the results are loaded as buttons.  Click on one of these to open the word record, and from here you can navigate through the results using the ‘Previous Result’ and ‘Next Result’ options.

I haven’t included any of the additional functionality of the CD-ROM (e.g. the Grammar Broonie or the games) as I believe these aren’t to be included in the initial release.  The size of the App is about 15Mb (with sound clips taking up about 10Mb and data about 5Mb).  This shouldn’t pose any problems.

My third project of the week was Katie’s Aelfric bid that she’s putting together.  I can’t go into too much detail about it at this stage, but I’ve been helping her get the technical side of the project in order and I participated in a conference call with her and the Zooniverse people.  This was a useful call and helped define the sorts of input, output and workflows that would be possible.  The project is shaping up really nicely and hopefully we’ll be able to submit it by the end of the summer.

My final project this week was the Historical Thesaurus.  Fraser had emailed me a list of updates to be made to the data and I spent some time going through these and making the necessary changes.  Fraser and Christian also wanted me to create a little script that would pinpoint those categories of any part of speech that don’t have a parent category.  A lot of categories that aren’t nouns don’t have parent categories so users can’t navigate up the hierarchy within the part of speech – instead they would have to select the corresponding noun category.  We’re going to update this in some way – either creating empty categories to facilitate browsing or updating the interface to point out to people that they need to select the noun to navigate up further.  Whilst creating the little script I came across a bit of an error with some rows in the category database.  There are about a thousand categories that have a part of speech recorded in their final category number column and this is wrong.  Rather strangely, the part of speech found in this field generally isn’t the same as the value found in the actual part of speech column for the category.  It’s most perplexing and I really don’t know how these errors have crept in.  Hopefully it won’t take too long to identify what the real figures should be and to fix the data.