Week Beginning 18th December 2017

This was a short week for me as I only worked from Monday to Wednesday due to Christmas coming along.  I spent most of Monday and Tuesday continuing to work on the Technical Plan for Joanna Kopaczyk’s proposal.  As it’s a project with quite a large technical component there was a lot to think about and lots of detail to try and squeeze into the maximum of four pages allowed for a Plan.  My first draft was five pages long, so I had to chop some information out and reformat things to try and bring the length down a bit, but thankfully I managed to get it within the limit whilst still making sense and retaining the important points.  I also chatted with Graeme some more about some of the XML aspects of the project and had an email conversation with Luca about it too.  It was good to get the Plan sent on to Joanna, although it’s still very much a first draft that will need some further tweaking as other aspects of the proposal are firmed up.

I had to fix an issue with the Thesaurus of Old English staff pages on Monday.  The ‘edit lexemes’ form was set to not allow words to be more than 21 characters long.  Jane Roberts had been trying to update the positioning of the word ‘(ge)mearcian mid . . . rōde’, and as  this is more than 21 characters any changes made to this row were being rejected.  I’m not sure why I’d set the maximum word length to 21 as the database allows up to 60 characters in this field.  But I updated the check to allow up to 60 characters and that fixed the problem.  I also spent a bit of time on Tuesday gathering some stats for Wendy about the various Mapping Metaphor resources (i.e. the main website, the blog, the iOS app and the Android app).  I also had a chat with Jane Stuart Smith about an older but still very important site that she would like me to redesign at some point next year, and I started looking through this and thinking how it could be improved.

On Wednesday, as it was my last day before the hols, I decided to focus on something from my ‘to do’ list that would be fun.  I’d been wanting to make a timeline for the Historical Thesaurus for a while so I thought I’d look into that.  What I’ve created so far is a page through which you can pass a category ID and then see all of the words in the category in a visualisation that shows when the word was used, based on the ‘apps’ and ‘appe’ fields in the database.  When a word’s ‘apps’ and ‘appe’ fields are the same it appears as a dot in the timeline, and where the fields are different the word appears as a coloured bar showing the extent of the attested usage.  Note that more complicated date structures such as ‘a1700 + 1850–‘ are not visualised yet, but could be incorporated (e.g. a dot for 1700 then a bar from 1850 to 2000).

When you hover over a dot or bar the word and its dates appear below the visualisation.  Eventually (if we’re going to use this anywhere) I would instead have this as a tool-tip pop-up sort of thing.

Here are a couple of screenshots of fitting examples for the festive season.  First up is words for ‘Be gluttonous’:

And here are words for ‘Excess in drinking’:

The next step with this would be to incorporate all subcategories for a category, with different shaded backgrounds for sections for each subcategory and a subcategory heading added in.  I’m not entirely sure where we’d link to this, though.  We could allow people to view the timeline by clicking on a button in the category browse page.  Or we might not want to incorporate it at all, as it might just clutter things up.  BTW, this is a D3 based visualisation created by adapting this code: https://github.com/denisemauldin/d3-timeline

That’s all from me for 2017.  Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year to one and all!