Week Beginning 29th June 2015

I returned to work on Monday this week after being off sick on Thursday and Friday last week. It has been yet another busy week, the highlight of which was undoubtedly the launch of the Mapping Metaphor website. After many long but enjoyable months working on the project it is really wonderful to finally be able to link to the site. So here it is: http://www.glasgow.ac.uk/metaphor

I moved the site to its ‘live’ location on Monday and made a lot of last minute tweaks to the content over the course of the day, with everything done and dusted before the press release went out at midnight. We’ve had lots of great feedback about the site. There was a really great article on the Guardian website (which can currently be found here: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jun/30/metaphor-map-charts-the-images-that-structure-our-thinking) plus we made the front page of the Herald. A couple of (thankfully minor) bugs were spotted after the launch but I managed to get those sorted on Wednesday. It’s been a very successful launch and it has been a wonderful project to have been a part of. I’m really pleased with how everything has turned out.

Other than Mapping Metaphor duties I split my time across a number of different projects. I continued working with the Thesaurus of Old English data and managed to get everything that I needed to do to the data completed. This included writing and executing a nice little script that added in the required UTF-8 length markers over vowels. Previously the data used an underscore after the vowel to note that it was a long one but with UTF-8 we can use proper length marks, so my script found words like ‘sæ_d’ and converted them all to words like ‘sǣd’. Much nicer.

I wrote and executed another script that added in all of the category cross references, and another one that checked all of the words with a ‘ge’ prefix. My final data processing script generated the search terms for the words, for example it identified word forms with brackets such as ‘eorþe(r)n’ and then generated multiple variant search words, in this case two – ‘eorþen’ and ‘eorþern’. This has resulted in a totally of 57,067 search terms for the 51,470 words we have in the database.

Once I’d completed work on the data, I spent a little bit of time on the front end for the new Thesaurus of Old English website. This is going to be structurally the same as the Historical Thesaurus of English website, just with a different colour scheme and logos. I created three different colour scheme mockups and have sent these to Fraser and Marc for consideration, plus I got the homepage working for the new site (still to be kept under wraps for now). This homepage has a working ‘random category’ feature, which shows that the underlying data is working very nicely. Next week I’ll continue with the site and hopefully will get the search and browse facilities completed.

I also returned to working on the Scots Thesaurus project this week. I spent about a day on a number of tasks, including separating out the data that originated in the paper Scots Thesaurus from the data that has been gathered directly from the DSL. I also finally got round to amalgamating the ‘tools’ database with the ‘Wordpress’ database. When I began working for the project I created a tool that enables researchers to bring together the data for the Historical Thesaurus of English and the data from the Dictionary of the Scots Language in order to populate Scots Thesaurus categories with words uncovered from the DSL. Following on from this I made a WordPress plugin through which thesaurus data could be managed and published. But until this week the two systems were using separate databases, which required me to periodically manually migrate the data from the tools database to the WordPress one.   I have now brought the two systems together, so it should now be possible to edit categories through the WordPress admin interface and for these updates to be reflected in the ‘tools’ interface. Similarly, any words added to categories through the ‘tools’ interface now automatically appear through the WordPress interface. I still need to fully integrate the ‘tools’ functionality with WordPress to we can get rid of the ‘tools’ system altogether, but it is much better having a unified database, even if there are still two interfaces on top of it. Other than these updates I also made a few tweaks to the public facing Scots Thesaurus website – adding in logos and things like that.

I also spent some time this week working on another WordPress plugin – this time for Gavin Miller’s Science Fiction and the Medical Humanities project. I’m creating the management scripts to allow him and his researchers to assemble a bibliographic database of materials relating to both Science Fiction and the Medical Humanities. I’ve got the underlying database created and the upload form completed. Next week I’ll get the upload form to actually upload its data. One handy thing I figured out whilst developing this plugin is how you can have multiple text areas that have the nice ‘WYSIWYG’ tools above them to enable people to add in formatted text. After lots of hunting around it turned out to be remarkably simple to incorporate, as this page explains: http://codex.wordpress.org/Function_Reference/wp_editor

The ‘scifimedhums’ website itself went live this week, so I can link to it here: http://scifimedhums.glasgow.ac.uk/

I was intending to continue with the Hansard data work this week as well. I had moved my 2 years of sample data (some 13 million rows) to my work PC and was all ready to get Bookworm up and running when I happened to notice that the software will not run on Windows (“Windows is out of the question” says the documentation). I contacted IT support to see if I could get command-line access to a server to get things working but I’m still waiting to see what they might be able to offer me.

I also managed to squeeze in a couple of meetings this week, both of which were ones that I needed to reschedule after being ill last week. The first was with Pauline Mackay to discuss an upcoming Burns project that I’m going to help write the technical components of. I can’t really go into further details about this for the time being. My second meeting was with Craig Lamont to go through the historical map he is creating for Murray Pittock’s Ramsay project. We tried again to get my Leaflet based sample map to work within the University’s T4 system, and although we made a bit of progress (we managed to get the CSS files uploaded as content blocks that could then be referenced by our page) we hit a brick wall when it came to the Javascript files, which were too large to be accepted as content blocks. We even tried uploading the files to the T4 media library, which appeared to work, but we just couldn’t figure out how to reference the uploaded files. Craig is going to contact the T4 people for advice. One thing we did manage to do was to get different coloured icons working with the map. Craig should now be able to create all of the required data and we can return to hosting issues and further functionality later.