Week Beginning 4th October 2015

I worked on quite a number of different projects this week. My first task was to set up a discussion forum for Sean Adams’ Academic Publishing conference website. The website is another WordPress powered site and I hadn’t worked with any forum plugins before so it was interesting to learn about this. I settled for the widely adopted ‘bbpress’ plugin, which turned out to be very straightforward to set up and integrates nicely with WordPress. I had to tweak the University theme I’d created a little so that the various sections displayed properly, but after that all appeared to be working well. I also spent some time continuing to contribute to the new Burns bid for Gerry Carruthers. I’d received some feedback on my first version of the Technical Plan and based on this and some updated bid documentation I created a second version. I also participated in some email discussions about other parts of the bid too. It seems to be shaping up very well. Ann Fergusson from SND contacted me this week as someone had spotted a missing section of text in one of the explanatory pages. I swiftly integrated the missing text and all is now well again.

On Tuesday I had a meeting with Susan and Magda about the Scots Thesaurus. We went through some of the outstanding tasks and figured out how and when these would be implemented. The biggest one is the creation of a search variants table, which will allow any number of different spellings to be associated with a lexeme, enabling it to be found by the search option. However, Magda is going to rework a lot of the lexemes over the coming weeks so I’m going to hold off on implementing this feature until this work has been completed.

I spent a fair amount of time this week working on the ‘Edinburgh and the Enlightenment’ map that Craig Lamont is preparing for Murray Pittock. We’re creating this within the University’s T4 system, which has complicated matters somewhat, but things are now shaping up nicely. We have a historical map with a variety of differently coloured pins on it and the key that allows different colours to be turned on or off. The biggest issue I addressed this week was the size of the map. When viewed within the University’s page layout the map was rather small and I suggested that I could make a full-screen version in a JavaScript based popup. This proved to be slightly trickier to implement than I had expected. Initially I had intended to use a jQuery UI dialog box, as I did for the Scots Thesaurus visualisations. The University site already incorporates the jQuery UI JavaScript code so I started to use that. However, for some reason the jQuery UI styles are not incorporated into the University site, meaning the dialog failed to appear anywhere. After adding the necessary styles to our page the popup appeared and I managed to get the map to display in it. The next problem was that you can’t share markers between multiple maps in the same page when using the Leaflet library. Well, you can but when you move one map around the marker positions all get messed up on the other map. I had to completely change the way we store out marker data so that the code could automatically add them to two different maps. The next problem I encountered was with the Leaflet layer controls – the options that allow differently coloured pins to be turned on or off. These simply wouldn’t work properly within the jQuery dialog box. I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out what was causing this and eventually tried moving the map out of the dialog box. This immediately fixed the problem so there would appear to be some sort of conflict between the jQuery UI dialog code and the Leaflet layer control code. In the end I had to make my own simple overlay for displaying the full-screen map, and thankfully this appears to be working nicely. Craig now has to do a lot of data entry to convert our marker data into the new format, but once that has been completed the map should be ready to launch.

I also had a Mapping Metaphor task to do this week: updating the database with new data. Wendy has been continuing to work with the data, adding in directionality, dates and sample lexemes and Ellen sent me a new batch. It has been a while since I’d last uploaded new data and it took me a while to remember how my upload script worked, but after I’d figured that out everything went smoothly. We now have information about 16,378 metaphorical connections in the system and 12,845 sample lexemes linked into the Historical Thesaurus.

My final task of the week was to continue working on my WordPress plugin for Gavin Miller’s Science Fiction and the Medical Humanities website. Last week I started working on a browse facility that will let users view things like years, themes, mediums and people and to then click through to search results showing the bibliographical items that have been associated with these things. I had included jQuery in this to power some tabs and unfortunately this had conflicted with the jQuery version that was already included within WordPress. I have now figured out how to include jQuery in a plugin and to reference WordPress’s version rather than my own version. Basically at the top of the plugin you have to include ‘wp_enqueue_script(‘jquery’);’ and then in the JavaScript you need to wrap the code with ‘jQuery( function ( $ ) {});’ rather than ‘$(function() {});’ that I’m used to. With that conflict resolved I continued to develop the browse feature and the search results page that this passes data to. It’s now possible to browse for things (e.g. the theme ‘surgery’), see all of the corresponding bibliographic items and then click through to an actual item. I also updated the item page so that whenever browsable things appear in the page (e.g. the associated themes) these link in to the search results page too. It seems to be working pretty well. The next task will be to create advanced and quick search features.

I’m going to be on holiday next week and the following week I’m going to be at a conference so there will be no more from me until after I return.