Week Beginning 26th June 2017

On Friday this week I attended the Kay Day event, a series of lectures to commemorate the work of Christian Kay.  It was a thoroughly interesting event with some wonderful talks and some lovely introductions where people spoke about the influence Christian had on their lives.  The main focus of the event was the Historical Thesaurus, and it was at this event that we officially launched the new versions of the main HT website and the Thesaurus of Old English website, which I have been working on over the past few weeks.  You can now see the new versions here http://historicalthesaurus.arts.gla.ac.uk/ and here: http://oldenglishthesaurus.arts.gla.ac.uk/.  We’ve had some really good feedback about the new versions and hopefully they will prove to be great research tools.

In the run-up to the even this week I spent some further time on last-minute tweaks to the websites. On Monday I finished my major reworking of the TOE browse structure, which I had spent quite a bit of time on towards the end of last week.  The ‘xx’ categories now all have no child categories.  This does look a little strange in some places as these categories are now sometimes the only ones at that level without child categories, and in some cases it’s fairly clear that they should have child categories (e.g. ’11 Action and Utility’ contains ’11 Action, operation’ that presumably then should contains ’11.01 Action, doing, performance’).  However, the structure generally makes a lot more sense now (no ‘weaving’ in ‘food and drink’!) and we can always work on further refinement of the tree structure at a later date.

I also updated the ‘jump to category’ section of the search page to hopefully make it clearer what these ‘t’ numbers are.  This text is also on the new HT website.  I also fixed the display of long category titles that have slashes in them.  In Firefox these were getting split up over multiple lines as you’d expect, but Chrome was keeping all of the text on one long line, thus breaking out of the box and looking a bit horrible.  I have added a little bit of code to the script that generates the category info to replace slashes with a slash followed by a zero-width space character (​).  This shouldn’t change the look of the titles, but means the line will break on the slashes if the text is too long for the box.  I also fixed the issue with subcategory ‘cite’ buttons being pushed out of the title section when the subcategory titles were of a certain long length.

I also noticed that the browser’s ‘back’ button wasn’t working when navigating the tree – e.g. if you click to load a new category or change the part of speech you can’t press the ‘back’ button to return to what you were looking at previously.  I’m not sure that this is a massive concern as I don’t think many people actually use the ‘back’ button much these days, but when you do press it the ‘back’ button the ‘hash’ in the URL changes, but the content of the page doesn’t update, unless you then press the browser’s ‘reload’ button.  I spent a bit of time investigating this and came up with a solution.  It’s not a perfect solution as all I’ve managed to do is to stop the browsing of the tree and parts of speech being added to the user’s history, therefore no matter how much clicking around the tree you do if you press ‘back’ you’ll just be taken to the last non-tree page you looked at.  I think this is acceptable as the URL in the address bar still gets updated when you click around, meaning you can still copy this and share the link, and clicking around the tree and parts of speech isn’t really reloading a new page anyway.  I’d say it’s better than the user pressing ‘back’ and nothing updating other than the ID in the URL, which is how it currently worked.

Marc also noted that our Google Analytics stats are not going to update now we’re using a new AJAX way to load category details.  Thankfully Google have thought about how to handle sites like ours and it looks like I followed some instructions to make my code submit a GA ‘hit’ when my ‘load category’ JavaScript runs, following the instructions here: https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/analyticsjs/single-page-applications

There are still further things I want to do with the HT and TOE sites- e.g. I never did have the time to properly overhaul the back-end and create one unified API for handling all data requests.  That side of things is still a bit of a mess of individual scripts and I’d really like to tidy it up at some point.  Also, the way I updated the ‘back button’ issue was to use the HTML5 ‘history’ interface to update the URL in the address bar without actually adding this change to the browser’s history (See https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/API/History).  If I had the time I would investigate using this interface to use proper variables in the URL (e.g. ‘?id=1’) rather than a hash (e.g. ‘#id=1’) as hashes are only ever handled client side whereas variables can be processed on both client and server.  Before this HTML5 interface was created there was no reliable way for Javascript to update the page URL in the address bar, other than by changing the hash.

Other than Historical Thesaurus matters, I spent some time this week on other projects.  I read through the job applications for the SPADE RA post and met with Jane to discuss these.  I also fixed a couple of issues with the SCOSYA content management system that had crept in since the system was moved to a new server a while back.  I also got my MacOS system and XCode up to date in preparation for doing more app work in the near future.

I spent the remainder of my week updating the digital edition of the Woolf short story that I’ve been working on for Bryony Randall’s ‘New Modernist Editing’ project.  Bryony had sent the URL out for feedback and we’d received quite a lot of useful suggestions.  Bryony herself had also provided me with some updated text for the explanatory notes and some additional pages about the project, such as a bibliography.

I made some tweaks to the XML transcription to fix a few issues that people had noticed.  I added in ‘Index’ as a title to the index page and I’ve added in Bryony’s explanatory text.

I relabelled ‘Edition Settings’ to ‘Create your own view’ to make it clearer what this option is.  I moved the ‘next’ and ‘previous’ buttons to midway down the left and right edges of the page, and I think this works really well as when you’re looking at the text it feels more intuitive to ‘turn the page’ at the edges of what you’re looking at.  It also frees up space for additional buttons in the top navigation bar.

I made the ‘explanatory notes’ a dotted orange line rather than blue and I removed the OpenLayers blue dot and link from the facsimile view to reduce confusion.  In the ‘create your own view’ facility I made it so that if you select ‘original text’ this automatically selects all of the options within it.  If you deselect ‘original text’ the options within are all deselected.  If ‘Edited text’ is not selected when you do this then it becomes selected.  If ‘Original text’ is deselected and you deselect ‘Edited text’ then ‘Original text’ and the options within all become selected.  This should hopefully make it more difficult to create a view of the text that doesn’t make sense.

I also added in some new interpretations to the first handwritten note, as this is still rather undecipherable.  I created new pages for the ‘further information’, ‘how to use’ and ‘bibliography’.  These are linked to from the navigation bar of the pages of the manuscript, in addition to being linked to from the index page text.  A link appears allowing you to return to the page you were looking at if you access one of these pages from a manuscript page.  I think the digital edition is looking rather good now, and it was good to get the work on this completed before my holiday.  I can’t share the URL yet as we’re still waiting on some web space for the resource at The KEEP archives.  Hopefully this will happen by the end of July.

I will be on holiday for the next two weeks now so no further updates from me until later on in the summer.