Week Beginning 13th October 2014

This was my first full week back after my holiday last week and my time was divided up between quite a number of projects.  I engaged in correspondence with the SLD people about the Scots School Dictionary that I’ve developed a prototype of.  We’re starting to get some feedback from teachers and other prospective users about this now, which is very helpful.  I’m hoping to be able to update the prototype based on the feedback next week.  I also responded to Megan Coyer about her Medical Humanities project.  She’s been speaking to other people in the School and has received some advice on the direction she should take with her project and I have said I will help out with the technical side of things.

I also spent some time this week working on the Scots Thesaurus project.  Susan has asked whether I would be able to formally be involved with the project to provide developer effort as her previous attempts at securing such effort have unfortunately not come to anything.  I have agreed to work one day a week on the project until it ends next year, and I’m hopeful that this will be sufficient time to successfully tackle at least some of the technical aspects of the project.  I met with Susan on Thursday to discuss this, and also to have a look at the DSL source files to see how we might go about automatically extracting relevant information.

Magda also emailed me a spreadsheet containing the data she has so far compiled for the category ‘Golf’.  We are currently following the same structure and in many cases categories as defined in the Historical Thesaurus of English and Magda’s spreadsheet was structured in such a way as to make it relatively easy for me to create a script that could extract categories and lexemes from the spreadsheet and upload them to a database structured like the HTE, with one table for categories and another for lexemes.  I created such a script, and a database for the Scots Thesaurus, and we now have the beginnings of a thesaurus, currently consisting of 70 categories (10 main, 60 sub) and 231 words.

Although we are currently recording the data in a relational database I am also investigating other mechanisms for recording thesaurus data such as SKOS (Simple Knowledge Organisation System), an RDF based standard for storing thesaurus data.  I am hoping to try and migrate the data to this format to investigate its suitability for a historical thesaurus.  As of yet I’ve not found any elements within SKOS that could be used to record dates of usage, which could be something of a sticking point.

I spent some time working on the Historical Thesaurus of English this week as well, adding in a little feature that allows a user to convert a category number from version 1 of the data (as found in the printed edition) to version 4 of the data (currently available online).  As documented in earlier posts, the HT categories went through a large scale renumbering process so the category numbers in the printed version (e.g. water) are different to the online version (01.05.05).  This means using the ‘jump to category’ option on the search page doesn’t necessarily find the category if you’re using the version 1 numbers.  I have now added a converter to the bottom of the ‘versions and changes’ page (accessed from the ‘Thesaurus database version’ link in the footer) that allows you to enter a number in either version 1 or version 4 format and at the press of a button see what this number is in the other format.  You can use it here: http://historicalthesaurus.arts.gla.ac.uk/versions-and-changes/#converter


I also helped Helen Mclaughlin with an issue she was having with the Cogtop WordPress powered website.  I had implemented multilingual support on this website in the same way as I had done for the ICOS conference website, using the qtranslate plugin.  However, this plugin hasn’t been updated in a while and doesn’t work with the more recent versions of WordPress.  After some investigation I discovered a new fork of the plugin called ztranslate that does work with the new WordPress versions and after some tweaking I managed to migrate the website across to using the new version.

The rest of the week was spent getting on with Mapping Metaphor duties.  Due to my holiday and the AHRC workshop the week before it had actually been a couple of weeks since I had worked with the code and it took me a while to get back into things.  Previously I had managed to get circles to appear in the node labels when a node is clicked on but I hadn’t found a way of getting these to dynamically change size based on the number of metaphorical connections between the categories.  This was the task that I worked on this week and I’m very pleased to say that I managed to find a solution.  Now when a category is clicked on in the visualisation an AJAX call is made, passing the ID of the category that was clicked on. This queries the database and brings back a JSON file containing the IDs of all of the categories connected to the passed category and counts of all of the L3 connections.  This data is then passed to the ‘update nodes’ function which then decides which size of circle to display depending on the number of connections returned.  I think this really improves the visualisations as it presents more information, showing where the most numerous metaphorical connections can be found.  I also managed to update the links on the circles so that they now open up the metaphor card when clicked on, which should help people who may have found clicking on the connecting lines tricky.