Week Beginning 22nd February 2016

I divided my time this week primarily between three projects: REELS, The People’s Voice and the Mapping Metaphor follow-on project. For REELS I continued with the content management system. After completing the place-name element management systems last week I decided this week to begin to tackle the bigger issue of management scripts for place-names themselves. This included migrating parish details into the database from a spreadsheet that Eila had previously sent me and migrating the classification codes from the Fife place-name database. I began work on the script that will process the addition of a new place-name record, creating the form that project staff will fill in, including facilities to add any number of map sheet records.

I initially included facilities to associate place-name elements with this ‘add’ form, which proved to be rather complicated. A place-name may have any number of elements and these might already exist in our element database. I created an ‘autocomplete’ facility whereby a user starts to type an element and the system queries the database and brings back a list of possible matching items. This was complicated by the fact that elements have different languages, and the list that’s returned should be different depending on what language has been selected. There are also many fields that the user needs to complete for each element, more so if the element doesn’t already exist in the database. I began to realise that including all of this in one single form would be rather too overwhelming for users and decided instead to split the creation and management of place-names across multiple forms. The ‘Add’ page would allow the user to create the ‘core’ record, which wouldn’t include place-name elements and historical forms. These materials will instead be associated with the place-name via the ‘browse place-names’ table, with separate pages specifically for elements and historical forms. Hopefully this set-up will be straightforward to use.

After reaching this decision I shelved the work I’d done on associating place-name elements and instead set to work on completing the ‘core’ place-name data upload form. This led me onto another interesting task. The project will be recording grid references for places, and I had previously worked out that it would be possible for a script to automatically generate the latitude and longitude from this figure, which in turn would allow for altitude to be retrieved from Google Maps. I used a handy PHP based library available here: http://www.jstott.me.uk/phpcoord/ to generate the latitude and longitude from the grid reference and then I integrated a Google Map in order to get the altitude (or elevation as Google calls it) based on instructions found here: https://developers.google.com/maps/documentation/javascript/elevation. By the end of the week I had managed to get this working, other than actually storing the altitude data, which I should hopefully be able to get sorted next week.

For The People’s Voice project I had an email conversation with the RA Michael Shaw about the structure of the database. Michael had met with Catriona to discuss the documentation I had previously created relating to the database and the CSV template form. Michael had sent me some feedback and this week I created a second version of the database specification, the template form and the accompanying guidelines based on this feedback. I think we’re pretty much in agreement now on how to proceed and next week I hope to start on the content management system for the project.

For Metaphor in the Curriculum I continued with my work to port all of the visualisation views from relying on server-side data and processing to a fully client-side model instead. Last week I had completed the visualisation view and had begun on the tabular view. This week I managed to complete the tabular view, the card view and also the timeline view. Although that sentence was very quick to read, actually getting all of this done took some considerable time and effort, but it is great to get it all sorted, especially as I had some doubts earlier on as to whether it would even be possible. I still need to work on the interface, which I haven’t spent much time adapting for the App yet. I also managed to complete the textual ‘browse’ feature this week as well, using jQuery Mobile’s collapsible lists to produce an interface that I think works pretty well. I still haven’t tackled the search facilities yet, which is something I hope to start on next week.

In addition to this I attended a meeting with the Burns people, who are working towards publishing a new section on the website about song performance. We discussed where the section should go, how it should function and how the materials will be published. It was good to catch up with the team again. I also had a chat with David Shuttleton about making some updates to the Cullen online resource, which I am now responsible for. I spent a bit of time going through the systems and documentation and getting a feel for how it all fits together. I also made a couple of small tweaks to the Medical Humanities Network website to ensure that people who sign up have some connection to the University.