Week Beginning 1st December 2014

I was involved with quite a number of different projects and tasks this week.  On Monday I spent some time writing a technical overview of the ‘Medical Humanities Network’ website and content management system for Megan Coyer, following our meeting last week.  I also met with Gavin Miller to discuss a project he is putting together.  This will likely involve me writing a WordPress plugin for the first time, which I’m quite interested in doing.

I also had a catch-up meeting with Susan Rennie regarding the Historical Thesaurus of Scots project.  Susan seemed pretty happy with the HTE / DSL search tool I had previously created (although the BaseX database on the Testbed server had fallen over between me emailing the URL to the tool and our meeting).  It was a useful meeting and I now have a clearer idea of what additional development tasks are required of me for the project.  In terms of the tool, Susan would like me to be able to somehow automate the process of selecting DSL results for inclusion in the thesaurus, including selecting categories or creating new ones.  This is potentially going to be rather problematic as the DSL XML items don’t actually have unique identifiers of any sort, or even an easily identifiable tag around the entry’s headword and part of speech.  Susan is going to speak to the SLD people about how they got around this problem for the DSL website, as it is an issue that must certainly have cropped up.

Regarding the front-end for the project, Susan would like this to go live sooner rather than later, to enable members of the public to suggest words and upload images and sound clips.  I am going to develop and interface based on the mock-up visualisations I previously created that will allow users to select a category and to then post content (once they are signed in).  The current sticking point with this is that we haven’t yet decided on a structure for the thesaurus.  I’ve currently been using the structure of the Historical Thesaurus of English, but Susan would like to use something a bit simpler and more akin to the existing paper version of the Thesaurus of Scots.  So there are lots of technical tasks to do for the project, but for the time being some further decisions need to be made before I can really continue with the majority of them.

I was asked by Fraser Rowan to write a blog post and record a video clip about ‘digital’ in the College of Arts this week, so I spent a bit of time preparing for these.  We recorded the video on Friday and all went pretty well, even though the top of my head has been chopped off and I look even more balding than I really am!

I attended a College of Arts developers meeting this week, which was a useful opportunity to talk to some of the other developers and find out a bit more about what they’re doing and the technologies they are using.  Matthew Barr talked briefly about developing WordPress plugins, which was very useful to hear about as I will hopefully be doing this myself soon.  I also gave a talk about Web App development, talking about my experiences with Apache Cordova and submitting Apps to the App store.  People seemed pretty interested in what I had to say.

I spent most of the rest of the week continuing with Mapping Metaphor duties.  On Tuesday I attended a meeting with Wendy, Ellen, Flora and Marc to discuss stages 4, 5 and 6 of the project (dealing with metaphor directionality, sample lexemes and dates and the renumbering of the categories.  It was a very useful meeting, at which we decided on a new numbering scheme for the categories.  Previously we used letters A-Z to represent a level 2 category and then a two-digit number to represent the level 3 categories (e.g. A01).  This isn’t going to work due to the level 2 categories being split up further, beyond 26.  What we’ve decided to do is add an extra number at the start of the IDs to represent the level 1 category (External, Mental, Social worlds).  So A01 becomes 1A01.  This should work quite nicely as it makes it clearer which level 1 category a level 2 category belongs to.  I am going to have to rework a lot of the code so it works with the new IDs, plus the database structure will have to be updated too, but it’s a task that needs doing and it’s good to have established exactly how it’s going to be done.

In terms of actual development work, the big task I ticked off my ‘to do’ list this week was handling the metaphor cards plus the ‘card view’ of the data.  The pop-ups now reflect the chosen card layout throughout, including having a ‘start era’ timeline running across them.  I’ve also completed the ‘card view’ of the data as accessible from the ‘Change view’ option both at aggregate and drilldown levels.  It is now possible to view any of the data at any level as cards, tables or visualisations.  Timeline view is still to come.