Week Beginning 30th October 2017

I had been intending to continue to make updates to the SCOSYA atlas this week, but I realised this would not be a good idea because Gary was demonstrating it to a class.  I had also intended to spend some of the week setting up the Polyglot server for the SPADE project, but we are unfortunately still having some issues with getting access to the hardware on which I will install the software.  We’re going to set things up on the project RA Rachel MacDonald’s new PC, which has now been delivered but has yet to be set up by Arts IT Support.  However, the machine is going to had the University’s ‘Standard Staff Desktop’ environment installed on it, and the new Windows 10 version of this seriously locks down administrator access.  Apparently only Arts IT Support will be able to have administrator access to a machine, which is potentially going to make managing the software (which is still in development) a little tricky. By the end of the week this issue still hadn’t quite been sorted, but hopefully next week Rachel and I will be able to get stuck into the software installation.

As I was unable to do the work I had intended to do this week, I instead focused on setting up the new amalgamated version of the SLD and DSL websites.  I met with Thomas last week to discuss the plans for this, which will involve creating a WordPress version of the existing DSL site while keeping the actual dictionary search, browse and view pages separate.  SLD has agreed the payment for this work and as I had some time available I thought I’d just get started.

I’d never created a WordPress theme from scratch before, having previously only ever adapted existing themes.  I had to spend some time researching how themes are made and how they need to be structured, for example how to ensure that the necessary JavaScript and CSS files are loaded in and get picked up by WordPress.  Integrating the menu with WordPress proved to be rather tricky as I had to ensure that my styles and JavaScript worked with the menu structure as outputted by WordPress, so as to enable the site menu to be dynamic (i.e. so staff users can update the menu contents).  I have also added in a new menu that gets used on narrow.  This works better than the ‘live’ site, but I still need to work on the bullet point styles.  I created my own little ‘breadcrumb’ function that generates the breadcrumb trail too, and I’m replacing the old icons with nicer Font Awesome ones.

I also had to investigate how to set up ‘sidebars’ (basically any area where WordPress widgets can be added) and have created such areas for the homepage to allow some custom DSL widgets to be placed there.  I also then created these widgets, such as a DSL quick search widget that connects into the existing DSL AJAX scripts in order to display an ‘auto-complete’ list of options as you type, and a ‘Word of the day’ widget that connects to the DSL API in order to display the current day’s word.  I added in a couple of new free-text widgets for the other homepage boxes too, such as the ‘news’ box.  I had considered just tying this into the ‘SDL News’ blog posts, but decided it would be better instead to allow staff to manage exactly what appears in this homepage box, rather than just getting the content automatically from whatever new item was most recently posted.

There’s still lots to do (e.g. actually integrating the dictionary pages) but I’m pretty happy with the progress I’ve made so far.  In the first instance I’m aiming to produce a version of the DSL that should be just about identical to the ‘live’ site but is actually WordPress powered.  After that we can add new content, tweak the layout and such things.

I probably spent the best part of four days working on the DSL site.  The rest of the week was spent doing some further work on the OED data for the Historical Thesaurus for Fraser and updating all of the WordPress sites I manage to the most recent version of WordPress.