Week Beginning 28th May 2018

Monday was a bank holiday so this was a four-day working week.  The big news this weeks was that we went live with the new timeline and mini-timeline feature for the Historical Thesaurus.  This is a feature I started working on just for fun during a less busy period in the week before Christmas and it’s grown and grown since then into what I think is a hugely useful addition to the site.  It’s great to see it live at last.  Marc has been showing the feature to people at a conference this week and the feedback so far has been very positive, which is excellent.  The only slight teething problem was I inadvertently broke the Sparkline interface when I made this feature live (as the Sparkline page was using a test version of the site’s layout script that I deleted when the timelines went live).  Thankfully that was a two-second job to fix.  Anyway, here’s an example page with the timeline options available: https://historicalthesaurus.arts.gla.ac.uk/category/?type=search&qsearch=physician&word=physician&page=1#id=14766

I met with Gary Thoms this week to discuss the public interface for the SCOSYA atlas.  It looks like this is now going to be worked on later this year, possibly from September or October onward, with an aim of launching it in April next year.  We also talked about further updates to the staff version of the atlas that Gary would like to be incorporated, such as better options to save map images and facilities to select groups of locations and automatically display statistics about the group.  I’m hoping to spend some time on these updates over the next few weeks.

I also had a meeting with Thomas Clancy this week to discuss some possible future place-name projects that I might be involved with in some capacity, and I was in communication with SLD about some issues relating to the Google developer account for the Scots School dictionary.  I also fixed a minor error with the Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing that had cropped up during the move to HTTPS and gave further feedback to the latest (and possibly final) version of the Data Management Plan for Faye Hammill’s project.

Other than that I spent my time this week working on the redevelopment of the Seeing Speech and Dynamic Dialect websites for Jane Stuart-Smith.  I’d realised that we never decided how we’d redevelop the interface for the Dynamic Dialects website, so I spent some time setting this up.  As a starting point I took the same interface as for the new Seeing Speech website, but added in the Dynamic Dialects navigation structure (with links to the chart and map at the top).  I wasn’t sure what to do about the logo.  Unfortunately there is no version of the current logo on the server that doesn’t have the ‘Dynamic Dialects’ text in front of it.  Instead I found a couple of free images that might work and created mockups of the interface with them so that Jane and Eleanor could see which might work best.

I then decided to focus on the redevelopment of the Seeing Speech IPA chart interface to the videos, as I figured that in terms of content there probably wouldn’t be many changes to be made.  The charts now appear within the overall site structure rather than on an isolated page.  I’ve split the four charts into separate tabs.  Within each tab there are then buttons for setting the video type and speaker.  The charts all now use the ‘Doulos SIL’ font automatically, so no need to worry about missing symbols.

I’ve added a line of help text above the tables just in case people don’t know they can click on a symbol to open videos.  I can change this text if required.  The charts themselves should be pretty much identical to the existing charts.  The only difference is I’ve removed the hover-over title text, as to me it didn’t seem necessary for things like ‘U+00F0: LATIN SMALL LETTER ETH’ to be visible.  One other tiny difference is I’ve greyed out the ‘Affricates and double articulation’ symbols in the ‘other’ tab as these don’t have videos.

Regarding the videos, these now open in an overlay rather than in a new browser window.  The page greys out and the overlay drops down from the top.  When you click outside of the overlay, or on the ‘close’ button in the top right of the overlay, the page fades back into view and the overlay slides up the screen and disappears.  Most browsers now also display a ‘full screen’ button in the video player options if people want to see a bigger video, and some browsers (e.g. Chrome) also give the user a ‘download’ option.  When the video overlay is open an extra ID is added to the browser’s address bar.  If you copy the full URL when the overlay is open you can then link to a specific video.  This means we could add ‘cite’ text to the overlay to allow people to cite specific videos.  When you close the overlay the information is removed from the address bar, to allow people to bookmark / cite the full page.

I haven’t copied all of the copyright text across as it seemed a bit confusing.  The link to the International Phonetic Association was broken and it was unclear why the chart has copyright attributed to three organisations.  The ‘Weston Ruter’ one is particularly confusing as the link just leads to a personal website for a WordPress developer.  So for now what is displayed is ‘Charts reprinted with permission from The International Phonetic Association’ (with a link to https://www.internationalphoneticassociation.org/).

In terms of responsiveness (i.e. things working on all screen sizes), I’ve tested things out on my phone and the charts and video overlays work fine.  The tabs end up stacked vertically, which I think is fine.  Once the screen narrows beyond a certain point the tables (particularly the pulmonic consonants table) stops getting narrower and instead a scrollbar appears underneath the table.  This ensures the structure of the table is never compromised – i.e. no dropping down of columns onto new lines or anything).  As this feature and the new site design is still in development I can’t post any screenshots yet, but I think it’s coming along nicely.  Eleanor noticed some strange formatting with one of the tables in Internet Explorer, so I’ll have to investigate this next week.