Week Beginning 25th September 2017

My time this week was split amongst many different projects.  I continued to work on the Burns Paper Database, setting up a proper subdomain for the project and creating a more unified interface for the site, which previously just used styles taken from pervious sites that I had borrowed functionality from.  I think my work on this website is now pretty much complete and it’s been a useful experience, especially working with image pan and zoom libraries, which I will no doubt make further use of in future projects.  It’s a shame I can’t share the URL, though, as the site needs to be password protected due to the use of high resolution copyrighted images.

I had a chat with Chris McGlashan this week about maybe migrating the project websites to HTTPS rather than just using HTTP.  This week the main University website was being migrated over to this more secure, encrypted protocol for accessing web pages, and I wondered whether all of the project websites that exist as subdomains of the main University URL could also maybe make use of the main site’s SSL certificate.  This would be good because we have lots of log-in forms for accessing content management systems and as these all submit data using non-encrypted HTTP that data could be intercepted.  Browsers these days are also flagging up ‘insecure’ forms, which makes our sites look bad.  However, the University’s IT people have advised against migrating to HTTPS for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, we couldn’t just use the certificate from the main site (well, technically we might have been able to but from a security point of view this would be a bad idea as this certificate is used for finance sites and such things).  This would mean we’d have to pay for our own certificates and to projects generally don’t have the funds for that.  Secondly, most of the data we deal with is considered ‘low risk’, and therefore doesn’t warrant an SSL certificate.  So, we’re keeping things as they are, for the time being at least.

I spent a bit of time this week reworking the site design for Gerry McKeever’s Regional Romanticism project, as he wasn’t too keen on the design I’d previously created.  The new design looks a lot better, and he seems happy with it, so all is well there.  I also spent quite a bit of time this week working with Rachel MacDonald on the interface for the SPADE website.  I created an initial website for the project many weeks ago but just left it with a placeholder interface, but this week I implemented a proper interface, which I think looks pretty good.  I just need to wait for feedback from the project team now, though.  Neither of these websites is officially live yet, so I can’t share the URLS for them.

Also this week I had a chat with the DSL people about a new page they want me to make on the website.  I also created a new version of the Technical Plan for Thomas Clancy’s Iona project, based on feedback, and also created the Technical Summary paragraph for the main part of the proposal.  I spent a bit of time following up on a task for my PDR too, and responded for a request for me to be on another interview panel.

I also returned to some Historical Thesaurus duties.  A couple of weeks ago I was alerted to the existence of a non-noun category that didn’t have a noun category at the same level.  This meant the category didn’t appear within the new ‘tree browse’ interface and neither it nor its child categories could be found by browsing.  This issue was fixed by creating a new empty noun category.  I wondered whether there might be any other similar categories in the database, so this week I wrote a little script to check.  It turns out that there are similar categories, but thankfully not too many – between 20 and 30, in fact.  After identifying these I asked Fraser to check what the headings of the empty noun categories should be, and once I heard back from him I created them, meaning all of the previously inaccessible categories can now be found.  There may be more HT stuff to come back to next week, but we’ll see what is sent my way.