Week Beginning 27th April 2015

I spent most of this week continuing with the App version of the old STELLA teaching resource Essentials of Old English and I have now completed the first version of it, which you can currently view here: http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/stella/apps/eoe/ (note however that this URL may stop working at any time). Pretty much all of the time devoted to the App was spent developing the ‘Plus’ exercises, of which there are 50. In the original resource these were actually split into almost 80 exercises, but I’ve amalgamated some of these for the new App. Most of the exercises followed the same general pattern as the ‘basic’ exercises, which meant I generally just had to extract the content and plug it into the structure I’d already established. I’m using a JSON file to store the exercise contents and this is then pulled into the exercises Javascript file with the appropriate content extracted based on the exercise ID that is passed. This approach works pretty well and it also ensures that new exercise types can be plugged into the code relatively easily. I should really have an ‘exercise type’ field in the JSON file that specifies which bit of logic runs, but for the time being at least this is based on exercise ID instead. Some of the ‘Plus’ exercises were rather different in structure to the ‘Basic’ exercises, but thankfully these had the same sort of structure as some of the exercises I’d previously developed for the ‘Grammar’ app, for example exercises where you have to assign function labels (SPOCA) to phrases or label phrase forms (e.g. Noun Phrase). This meant I could take my existing code and plug it into the new app, a process that was relatively straightforward.

After formatting the questions and answers for all 50 exercises a first version of the app was ready for testing. This version isn’t a proper ‘app’ as such in that it just runs in a web browser rather than being installed on a device, but in terms of functionality it reflects what will be included. I’ve arranged to meet Ger Malcolm, the guy in communications who currently manages the University’s Apple developer account in order to see about STELLA taking over the payment and management of the account. It’s a good time to meet with him firstly because the annual payment to Apple is due soon and secondly because our fourth app is just about ready to launch. I’ll also need to sort out a Google Play developer account so we can release Android versions of all of our apps too.

After completing the EOE app I started working on the ‘web’ version of the resource. For each of the apps I’ve created a version that fits within the University website design and is aimed at people using PCs rather than mobile devices so I needed to make such a version for EOE too. The web versions for the three previous apps I’d created were all still using the slightly older University web layout (the one with the nice big background image down the right hand side of the screen) so I decided to update these three to bring them into line with the current University website. You can view these here:

  1. ARIES: http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/stella/apps/web/aries/
  2. English Grammar: http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/stella/apps/web/grammar/
  3. Readings in Early English: http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/STELLA/apps/web/readings/

As you can probably deduce from the above URLs, the web version of the EOE app will be found here:

http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/STELLA/apps/web/eoe/

I haven’t completed work on this yet though. I’m currently still getting the navigation structure sorted out. Migrating the app to the University layout is slightly tricky in some respects because I can no longer rely on the widgets provided by the Jquerymobile library that I use for the app. In general the logic behind the exercises can all be carried over without a problem but certain things like popups, collapsible sections of the screen and buttons need to be reworked. I hope to get this completed next week.

Other than App stuff I worked on a few other tasks this week. I had a meeting with Susan Rennie and Magda to discuss the Scots Thesaurus project on Thursday. I went through the tool I’d created for managing metaphor categories and showed Magda how it might be used. She is going to send me the data she has worked on since I was last given any and I’ll import this into my system. I also need to start work on some of the front end aspects of the project as Susan is wanting to demonstrate some of this at a conference in August.

I also made a little tweak to the Historical Thesaurus of English this week. Fraser had received a request that we displayed subcategory numbers in the subcategory list within the category page as people sometime wanted to be able to pinpoint a subcategory based on its number. This made total sense and it’s a feature that I wished we had included from the start. Thankfully it was very easy to incorporate the update and the numbers now appear to the right in the subcategory list.

I had a meeting with Craig Lamont, a researcher who is working on a project with Murray Pittock. They have a historical map of Edinburgh that the NLS has made available to them in geocoded format and they are wanting to pin markers on it. Craig didn’t really know how to proceed with this so I met with him, showed him some of the previous work I’d done for the Burns people and we managed to get a mockup working with two markers pinned to it. Craig is now going to go away and compile the data in a spreadsheet and we’ll meet again at some point and think about how to transform this into map markers.

Wendy Anderson contacted me this week with a request to remove a record from the SCOTS Corpus. I’ve never had access to the underlying database for SCOTS, having only worked on the front-end design for the site. This was a good opportunity for me to get access to the database and see how it all fits together. With the help of Chris McGlashan I got access and managed to delete the necessary information. It will be useful to have this access in future.

I also made a couple of small tweaks to the DSL website (well, the development version – we still need to ‘go live’ with a variety of updates).  I added in a ‘cite’ popup to the ‘Scots Language’ page, so that’s task number 4 ticked off our list of things to do.