Week Beginning 11th September 2017

I spent more than half of this week continuing to work on the new ARIES app.  Last week I finished work on an initial, plain HTML and JavaScript version of the app, and I received another couple of bits of feedback this week that I implemented.  The bulk of my time, however, was spent using Apache Cordova to ‘wrap’ the HTML and JavaScript version, converting it into actual iOS and Android apps, then testing these apps on my iOS and Android devices, and then making all of the media files that an app needs, such as icon files, screenshots, app loading screens, app store graphics and things like that.  This process always takes longer than I think it should.  For example, I have to make more than 20 different icon files at varying resolutions, and I need to grab multiple screenshots from at least four different devices.  This latter process is made trickier because my Android Nexus 7 tablet no longer connects properly to my PC – the ‘photos’ folder appears blank when I connect for photo transfer and doesn’t contain the actual updated contents when I connect for file transfer, so I have to use a third party file explorer app to move the screenshots to a different folder on the device that somehow does get updated when viewing on my PC.  Regarding the icons, I came up with a few alternatives for this, based on the header image for the app, and we finally agreed on a sort of ‘marble’ effect circle on a white background.  I think it looks pretty good, and is certainly better than the old ARIES logo.  The app publication process was also complicated by two new issues that have emerged since I last made an app.  Firstly, Apple have updated the build process to disallow any extended image metadata, I guess as a security precaution.  I created my app icon PNG files in Photoshop, which added in such metadata.  When I then built my iOS app in xCode I received some rather unhelpful errors.  Thankfully StackOverflow had the answer (see https://stackoverflow.com/questions/39652867/code-sign-error-in-macos-sierra-xcode-8-3-3-resource-fork-finder-information) and after running a couple of command-line scripts this metadata was stripped out and the build succeeded.  My second issue related to the app name on the App Store.  Apple has decided to limit app names to 30 characters, meaning we could no longer call our app ‘ARIES: Assisted Revision in English Style’.  And as there is already an app names ‘ARIES’ we couldn’t call it that either.  This is a real pain, and seems like a completely unnecessary restriction to me.  In the end we called the app “ARIES: English Academic Style”.  I managed to submit the app to Apple and Google on Wednesday, and thankfully by the end of the week the new version was available on both the App and Play Stores.  I also made the ‘web’ version available, replacing the old ARIES site.  You can access this, and link through to the app versions from here: http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/stella/apps/web/aries/

Other than ARIES work, I made some further changes to the Edinburgh Gazetteer keywords, replacing the old list of keywords with a much trimmed down list that Rhona supplied.  I think this works much better than the previous list, and things are looking good.  I also helped Alison Wiggins with some information she wanted to add to the Digital Humanities website, and I spent about half a day working with the Mapping Metaphor data, generating new versions of all of the JSON files that are required for the ‘Metaphoric’ app and testing the web version of this out.  It looks like everything is working fine with the full dataset, so next week I’ll hopefully publish a new version of the app that contains this data.  I also started working on the database of Burns’ paper for Ronnie Young, firstly converting his Access database into an online MySQL version and then creating a simple browse interface for it.  There’s still lots more to be done for this but I need to meet with Ronnie before I can take this further.

The rest of my week was taken up with meetings.  On Wednesday morning I was on an interview panel for a developer post in another part of the college.  I also met with Gerry McKeever in the afternoon to discuss his new British Academy funded ‘Regional Romanticism’ project.  I’ll be working with him to set up a website for this, with some sort of interactive map being added in sometime down the road.  I spent Friday morning attending a network meeting for Kirsteen McCue’s Romantic National Song Network.  It was interesting to hear more about the project and to participate in the discussions about how the web resource for this project will work.  There were several ideas for where the focus for the online aspect of the project should lie, and thankfully by lunchtime we’d reached a consensus about this.  I can’t say much more about it now, but it’s going to be using some software I’ve not used before but am keen to try out, which is great.