Week Beginning 6th November 2017

I had a bit of an unsettled week this week as one of our two cats was hit by a car and killed on Monday night.  It’s all very sad.  Anyway, in terms of work, I was on an interview panel on Tuesday so spent some of Monday afternoon preparing for this, together with a fair amount of Tuesday morning participating in the interviews.  On Monday I also ran a few more queries for Fraser relating to the HT and OED data matching.  I also had a few more WordPress administrative tasks to take care of.  I also had to spend some of this week on AHRC review duties.

In addition, I spent about a day working on the SPADE project.  Rachel, the project RA’s PC had finally been set up and the Linux subsystem for Windows 10 had been activated by Arts IT support.  Our task was to install and configure the Polyglot server and database software that will be used by the project, and is being developed by our Montreal partners.  Thankfully there was quite a lot of documentation about this process and we could follow the many steps that were required to install the software and its dependencies.  I was a little sceptical that we would be able to do all of this without needing further administrator access on Rachel’s PC (if we need administrator access we have to ask someone in Arts IT Support to come over and entire their password), but rather wonderfully, once you’ve set up the Linux subsystem it basically works as a virtual machine, with its own admin user that Rachel is in control of.  I have to say it was a little strange working from a Linux command prompt in Windows, knowing that this was all running locally rather than connecting to a remote server.  The polyglot server sets up a Django web server through which various endpoints can be accessed.  I wondered whether it would be possible to access this ‘local’ sever from a web browser in the main Windows 10 instance and the answer was yes, it most certainly is possible.  So I think this setup is going to work rather well – Rachel will just need to open up the Linux subsystem command prompt and start the server running.  After that she will be able to access everything through her browser in Windows.

We did, however, run into a few difficulties with the installation process, specifically relating to the setting up of the Polyglot database to which the server connects.  The documentation got a little shaky at this point and it was unclear whether by installing the server we had also automatically installed the database, or whether we still needed to manually get this set up.  We contacted Montreal and were quickly told that we didn’t need to install the database separately, which was good.  We’re now at the stage where we can try to start running some tests on some sample data, although once more we’re not entirely sure how to proceed.  It’s a bit tricky when we don’t actually know exactly what the software does and how it does it.  It would have been useful to have had a demo of the system before we tried to set up our own.  We’ll press on with the test scripts next week.  Also for SPADE this week I extracted some data from the SCOTS corpus that had been missed out of the dataset that Montreal had previously been given.

I had a meeting with Graeme to discuss some development issues, and I spent most of the rest of the week continuing with the reworking of the DSL website.  I updated the ‘support DSL’ page of the live site as I’d realised it had a broken link and some out of date information on it.  I then continued migrating the DSL website to WordPress.  The big task this week was to handle the actual dictionary pages – i.e. the search results page, the advanced search page, the bibliography page and the actual entry page itself – all of the pages that actually connect to the DSL’s database and display dictionary data.  For the most part this was a fairly straightforward process.  I needed to strip out any references to my own layout scripts, incorporate a link to the WordPress system and then add in the WordPress calls that display the WordPress header, footer and sidebar content.  This then means any changes to the installed WordPress theme are reflected on these dictionary pages, even though the pages themselves are not part of the WordPress instance.  There were of course a few more things that needed done.  I’m replacing all of the PNG icons with Font Awesome icons, so I needed to update all of the occurrences of these.  I also noticed that the bibliography search results page wasn’t working properly if the user enters text and then presses ‘search’ rather than selecting an option from the ‘autocomplete’ facility.  The results page loads with the ‘next’ and ‘previous’ links all messed up and not actually working.  I spent some time fixing this in my new WordPress version of the site, but I’m not going to fix the live site as it’s a minor thing that I’m guessing no-one has actually even noticed.  With these pages all working I spent some time testing things out and it would appear to me that the new DSL dictionary pages are all working in the same way as the old pages, which is great.

With the dictionary pages out of the way I continued migrating some of the ancillary pages to the new site.  I’ve managed to get all pages other than the ‘history of scots’ pages complete.  I’m about half-way through the latter, which is a massive amount of content.  It’s taking some time to migrate, not just because of its length, but also because it incorporates lots of images that I need to upload to WordPress, and even a couple of OpenLayers powered maps that I needed to migrate too.  Hopefully I’ll get this section of the site fully migrated early next week.  After that I’ll need to think about incorporating a sidebar, and I also need to tweak a few more aspects of the site, such as the HTML titles that get displayed in the entry pages.  After that I’ll need some further input from SLD about how we’re going to include the pages from the main SLD website.