Week Beginning 23rd June 2014

At least two days this week were taken up with AHRC duties, and I can’t really discuss those duties here, other than to say that they are taking up rather more time that I thought they would.  Still, the work is interesting at least.  I also managed to complete work on and upload an updated version of the Grammar app this week.  This update addressed a number of things people had pointed out since the initial launch, mainly to do with navigation.  This updated version hasn’t ‘gone live’ yet, but hopefully will do soon.

A fair amount of my remaining time was spent on Burns related matters.  I attended a project meeting on Tuesday, which was very useful.  Many of the new developments that have been on the cards for a while now are all going to come to fruition soon, such as tour maps and the timeline, with the plan being to launch many of them during the week of the 4th of August.  There will be lots to do before then.  I had been expecting to receive the timeline data during this week but it’s not been sent yet, so there must have been a delay somewhere.  This turned out to be no bad thing as it freed up a bit of time for me to work on a new design for the Burns website, something that has been on my ‘to do’ list of far too long.  Creating a new version of an interface for WordPress without making it live seems to be a rather tricky thing to do so to get around this problem I simply set up a version of the website on my own PC and worked on it there.  I emailed a screenshot of this new version to Pauline for distribution to the team and I’ll make the new interface live once I’ve received and acted upon any feedback.

On Friday I attended a meeting with Simon Taylor and Stevie Barratt from Celtic.  Simon has some money set aside to migrate placename data from Word to MySQL.  We agreed that I would do this work, but in my free time, due to my current workload.

I spend a little further time this week on DSL matters, specifically adding in the Scottish government logo and the copyright page.  The remainder of my week was spent working on the Scots School Dictionary app.  I’ve managed to get a rudimentary browse function working with the JSON data.  It’s now possible to select a letter and then view all of the words that start with it.  It’s coming along quite nicely.

I will be on holiday next week so there will be no report from me then.

Week Beginning 16th June 2014

Back to five days a week this week, and a pretty full-on week it was too.  On Monday I had requests for updates from three separate people about different Worpress websites (Choral Burns, CogTop and ISAS 2015).  Thankfully they were all pretty straightforward requests and I got them all sorted pretty quickly.  For the rest of the day I continued with DSL work, focussing this time on implementing the Bibliography search.  I’ve added this as a separate search tab in the ‘Advanced Search’ page and it allows users to search the bibliography for authors, titles and full text.  I’m not entirely sure why people would want to search the bibliography as it currently stands, as there is no way to get from a bibliographical record to the dictionary entries that reference it.  However, Ann is on the case and will be giving me some feedback in the next few weeks about how the search and display options might need to be updated.  Also this week I added another set of the ancillary text, this time the ‘History of DOST’ page.  I don’t really have much more to do for DSL now until I get content and feedback from the DSL people, so I’m going to be focussing on other projects instead.

I spent some time this week working with the Scots School Dictionary data, specifically extracting it from the HTML table layout and into something more usable.  This involved several stages.  Firstly I copied and pasted the text from my web browser into Excel.  Next I saved the data as a CSV file.  I then created a MySQL table with the correct structure for the data and wrote a little PHP script that would increment over the CSV file, uploading each record into this database.  I then wrote another PHP script that generated a JSON file from this data, which I will use as the data source for the App I’ll be developing.  This process may sound fairly straightforward, but I ran into some difficulties with character encoding along the way that took some time to sort out.  For example, all of the space characters weren’t simple space characters but were being encoded as some kind of odd UTF8 non-breaking space.  These looked just like normal spaces (all documents and the database were set to UTF8 encoding) but running a query on the database that involved a space (e.g. “where word like ‘%sample word%’”) found no results as the space supplied didn’t match the weird space that was recorded, which was very frustrating.  I eventually had to go back to the HTML data and do a find and replace on spaces in order to get round the problem.

I had a couple of meetings with people this week.  The first was with Pauline and Nigel regarding maps for the Burns tours.  We’re wanting to plot the tour routes in the Google Maps style interface and to have these available for launch alongside the prose volume.  We made a bit of progress deciding how the maps should look and who will gather the data.  The next stage will be to speak to Chris Fleet at NLS to see what can be done with the maps.  We already have static versions of the maps with the tours on them as very large TIFF files, but we’ll need to get geocoded versions of the maps if we want to be able to pin boxes on them and allow people to zoom in and out of them.

My second meeting was with Susan regarding her Scots Thesaurus project.  This has hit something of a snag due to the availability of technical staff, but she now has a clearer course of action.  Hopefully she will get someone to work on the project in the next couple of months, but on the meantime I’m going to help her set up the project website and some example visualisations for use at conferences and the like.

The remainder of my week was spent working on updates to the Historical Thesaurus of English.  Christian and Fraser have been working through the data, identifying sections that need to be renumbered (e.g. any sections that have a ‘00’ number).  These changes then have knock-on effects for other sections of the data (e.g. all categories at a certain level shifting their level 3 number by one).  I was given ten pages worth of updates to make, covering many thousand category records.  It took the best part of two days to write the scripts and the database queries that could handle the updates, testing these, making the changes and then testing the system after the updates were made.  We ran into a couple of problems along that way with duplicate numbers, but for the most part everything went smoothly.  I’m very glad it’s all been completed as it was a pretty tricky task.  Of course these updates do mean that the numbering of the online version no longer corresponds to the printed version, but the HT people seem ok with that.

Next week I have some further AHRC duties to perform, and I also hope to be able to publish updated versions of the STELLA apps too.

Week Beginning 9th June 2014

This week was my third and final four-day week in a row, having taken the Monday off.  Whilst I was away the ARIES and Readings apps were added to the App Store, so all three apps are now publicly available.  There has been some feedback regarding usability of the apps from a couple of people and there are a few things I’ll need to fix and improve.  I started working on this on Friday this week, and by the end of the day I had an updated version of the Grammar app ready to deploy.  Unfortunately the University of Glasgow account needs to have a legal person approve a new contract before any further access (such as creating new app versions) can take place and I’ll have to wait until someone is back from his holidays next week before I can get the new, improved version of the app published.

I spent quite a bit of time this week doing AHRC related tasks, which included reading through the documentation and attending a meeting with Katie Lowe and Marc about a new project they are putting together.  I also spent a little time updating some Mapping Metaphor data for Ellen.

The remainder of my time was spent on DSL tasks.  The main thing I completed was to provide facilities for a user to hide the search results column when they are looking at the entry page.  This frees up a lot more space.  It proved to be slightly tricky to get this to work as a lot of different styles had to be updated, with some only to be updated at certain screen widths, or if the user is partially scrolled down the page.  But I think I’ve got it all working now.

Quite a short report this week, really, mainly because some of the things that took up quite a bit of time (i.e. AHRC related stuff) are things that I can’t really divulge here.

Week Beginning 2nd June 2014

Another four-day week for me, as I’m taking the Friday off.  I spent the majority of this week doing DSL development.  The main thing I’ve added is the search results to the entry page.  These appear in a column to the left of the entry, and I’ve created tabs within this for SND and DOST results.  I’ve added pagination to these lists too (20 results displayed at any one time), and this works in the same way to the ‘browse’ facility, with up and down arrows.  I’ve also made the column ‘sticky’ (i.e. it stays fixed on screen if the entry is longer than a page and you scroll down). I might add options in to show / hide the left and right hand columns so people can focus more on the entry itself.  Note that on devices with narrow screens the search results appear above the entry, so having the option to show / hide the results would probably be useful here if nowhere else.  I’ve also added a link to the advanced search to the search results column in the entry page.  I’ve added pagination to the actual results page too, and this works in the same way as in the entry page.   I’ve also updated the results page so that if you perform a quick search that yields no results it automatically performs a full text search for your term.  That’s a few more items ticked off me ‘to do’ list now – I think we’re getting there.

Other than DSL tasks an important thing I managed to resolve this week was the problem I’d encountered in submitting apps to the App store.  I kept getting errors relating to certificates when submitting ARIES and Readings, even thought the Grammar app submitted with no problems.  It turned out that Xcode somehow hadn’t updated the provisioning profiles that were associated with my account.  I found a post on Stack Overflow (the link to which I have unfortunately lost) that suggested reloading the provisioning profiles through Xcode -> Preferences -> Accounts -> View Details window and then closing and reopening Xcode.  I did this and the problem was solved.  Phew!  After that I managed to get ARIES and Readings submitted.  They should hopefully be approved and available through the App Store by the weekend.

My other main task of the week was finishing off a first version of the Mapping Metaphor poster for DH2014.  I managed to squeeze pretty much all of the required information on to the poster (without making it illegible) and sent it on to Wendy and Rachael.  Wendy made a few more tweaks and that’s it all done.

I’m off on Monday next week too and will be back to work on the Tuesday.



Week Beginning 26th May 2014

Monday was a bank holiday so I had a nice long weekend.  Getting back to work on Tuesday, I spent a fair amount of time working with the Apps this week.  I actually managed to get an App submitted to the App Store!  It was something of a laborious process getting through the submission process and took a lot longer than I was anticipating.  It involved getting an iTunes Connect account, dealing with certificates and validation, integrating details from the developer program with the Xcode IDE on my macbook, generating icons of many different sizes, generating loading screens, taking screenshots for the store, supplying descriptions etc.  So many hoops to jump through.  But, finally, I managed to get the English Grammar app submitted.  Now we just need to see whether it will be accepted, as each app gets vetted before it is approved.  Rather frustratingly, I tried submitting the two other apps but I just keep getting error messages during the validation process – something about certificates not being valid.  I’ll return to this next week.  I also tried deploying the apps to my Android phone for testing purposes and ran into something of a snag.  Rather strangely, Android apps don’t support the HTML5 Audio tag, meaning none of the recordings in the ‘Readings’ app and the ‘speak and spell’ bit of ARIES were working.  This is a bit annoying, especially I was expecting to run into more trouble with iOS than Android.  It means I will have to rewrite the audio sections to use Cordova’s media player hooks.  It’s hopefully not going to be too difficult to do but it will take a bit of time and it means the Android versions of the apps will have to wait a while as I’ve got too many other tasks to focus on at the moment.

Other than App development stuff I mostly spent my time on Mapping Metaphor project stuff this week, mainly working on the poster for DH2014 with Wendy and Rachael.  I prepared the text for my section and then began working with an open source desk-top publishing package called Scribus that I’d used for previous posters when working in HATII.  We had a meeting on Friday to discuss the poster and by the end of the day I’d completed about half of a first version of the poster.  I’ll get this completed next week.  Also for the project this week I added some real lexeme and start date data that Ellen supplied me with and updated the visualisations to default to strong metaphors rather than both strong and weak.

I was hoping to have time to continue work on DSL development this week too, but ran out of time.  Hopefully next week I’ll be able to get back to it.