Week Beginning 21st November 2016

This is my 200th weekly report since starting this job, which is something of a milestone!  I received emails from three members of staff who required my help this week.  Maria Dick in English Literature is putting together a project proposal and wanted some advice on a project website so I had an email conversation with her about this.  Carolyn Jess-Cooke in English Literature wanted my help to set up a website for a small unfunded project she is starting up, and I spent some of the week getting this set up.  Finally Michael Shaw of The People’s Voice project got in touch with me because he has created a new flyer for the project and wondered if the project website design could be updated to reflect some of the elements from the flyer.  I played around with some of the graphics he had sent me and came up with a new interface that I think looks a lot nicer than the current one.  I sent screenshots of this new interface to Michael and he is going to show them to the rest of the team to see whether we should replace the current website design.

On Monday this week I completed work on Android versions of the ‘ARIES’ and ‘English Grammar: An Introduction’ apps.  I took screenshots of the apps running on my Android tablet and completed the Play Store listing for the apps and then went through the various processes required to prepare the app package file for submission to the store.  This is a slightly cumbersome process, involving various command-line tools such as zipalign and certification and signing tools.  But by the afternoon I had submitted the apps to the Play Store and the following day the apps were available to download.  You can download ‘ARIES’ here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gla.stella.aries  and ‘English Grammar: An Introduction’ here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gla.stella.grammar.  They are free to use so give them a try.

On Tuesday I met with Jean Anderson to discuss the ‘Basics of English Metre’ app that I’m currently redeveloping.  Jean had tested out the app for me and had noted down a few areas where improvements could be made and a couple of places where there were bugs.  It was a really useful meeting and we spent some time thinking about how some aspects of the app could be made more intuitive.  I spent some time during the week implementing the changes Jean had suggested, namely:

  1. ‘Unit’ text in the header now appears on the second line. I’ve kept it the blue colour.
  2. Emphasised parts of the text are now a dark blue rather than pink. Pink is now only used for syllable boundaries.  Rhythm is now purple and foot boundaries are now the dark blue colour
  3. The incorrect ‘cross’ icon now fades away after a few seconds.
  4. When an answer is correct the ‘check answer’ button is removed
  5. The yellow highlight colour is a more muted shade
  6. Additional questions (when they appear after correctly answering the final question on some pages) now appear in their own box rather than within the box for the last question
  7. In the ‘app’ version I’ve added in an ‘information’ icon at the start of the introductory text, to try and emphasise that this text is important in case the user’s eye is drawn down to the exercises without reading the text.

Some of these changes took rather a long time to implement, especially the introduction of new colours for certain types of content as this meant updating the JSON source data file and some parts of the JavaScript code for both the ‘app’ and ‘web’ versions of the tool (these versions have some differences due to the different libraries that are used in each).  I am now just waiting for Jean to supply me with some ‘about’ text and then hopefully I’ll be able to start creating iOS and Android versions of the resource.  BTW, you can view the ‘web’ version of the resource here if you’re interested: http://arts.gla.ac.uk/stella/apps/web/metre/

On Wednesday I had a SCOSYA meeting with Jennifer and Gary to discuss where we’re at with the technical aspects of the project.  They both seem pretty satisfied with the progress I’ve made so far and our discussions mostly focussed on what developments I should focus on next.  This was good because I had pretty much implemented all of the items that I had on my to do list for the project.  After our meeting I had lots more things added, namely:

  • I’ll split the Atlas attribute drop-down lists sections by parent category
  • I will investigate making the atlas markers bigger when zoomed out or moving the location of Shetland (the latter is probably not going to be possible)
  • Average gradient will be used when one attribute alone is selected, or when multiple attributes are joined by ‘AND’ or ‘NOT’. When multiple attributes are joined with ‘OR’ we need instead to show which attribute is present or not at each location.  How to visualise this needs further investigation.  It might be possible to assign a colour to each attribute and then make each map marker a pie chart featuring the colours of each attribute that is present at each location.

E.g. Attributes A,B,C are selected, joined by ‘OR’.  These are given the colours Red, Green and Blue.  Location X has A and B so has a marker split in two – half red, half green.  Location Y has A, B and C so has a marker split into thirds, one red, one green, one blue.  Location Z only has attribute C so is coloured solid blue.  The ratings are not represented in the markers – just whether the attribute is present or not.  I’m going to see whether it might be possible to use D3.js for this.

  • I will create a new atlas search option that will allow one or more parent categories to be selected. The limit options will be the same as for individual categories but the results will be different.  It won’t be about the average ratings at each location, instead it will be a rating of the number of times each attribute within the parent category matches the specified criteria.

E.g. There are 6 categories within Negative Concord and the limit options are ‘rated by 2 or more people with a rating of 3-5’.  The atlas will count how many of these 6 categories meet the criteria at each location.  This will then be split into 5 grades (so as to be able to handle any number of categories within one or more parents).  If the 6 categories (100%) meet the criteria at Location X then the map maker will be dark (e.g. black).  If only 3 categories (50%) match then the marker will be lighter (e.g. grey).  If no categories (0%) match then the marker will be white.  This will allow us to show the density of particular forms by location.  Note that some categories may need to be excluded by the project team.  This will be handled manually once Gary knows which attributes might need taken out (e.g. because they are just not present anywhere).

  • Once I start to create the public atlas, we agreed that the ‘expert’ user interface will allow users to log in and make their own parent categories – select any number of categories then give this group a name and save it. Their created categories will then be available for them to use via the atlas interface.
  • I will create another atlas search option that will basically replicate the ‘consistency data’ search only plotting the data on the atlas. The limit options in the ‘consistency’ page will all be offered, and map markers will have 3 possible colours representing ‘low’, ‘high’ and ‘mixed’ (with what these are being set through the limit options).

So, lots more to do for the project, and I’ll probably start on this next week.