Week Beginning 23rd July 2018

I continued with the group statistics feature for the SCOSYA project this week.  Last week Gary had let me know that he was experiencing issues when using the feature with a large group he had created, so I did some checking of functionality.  I created a group with 140 locations in it and tried out the feature with a variety of searches on a variety of devices, operating systems and browsers but didn’t encounter any issues.  Thankfully it turned out that Gary needed to clear his browser’s cache, and with that done the feature worked perfectly for him.  Gary had also reported an issue with the data export facilitiy I created a while back for the project team to use.  It was working fine if limits on the returned data were included, but gave nothing but a blank page when all the data was requested.  After a bit of investigation I reached the conclusion that it must be a some kind of limit imposed on the server, and a quick check with Chris revealed that when the script returned all of the data it was exceeding a memory limit.  When Chris increased the limit the script began to work perfectly again.

In addition to these investigations I added a couple of new pieces of functionality to the group statistics feature.  I added in the option to show or hide locations that are not part of your selected group, allowing the user to cut down on the clutter and focus on the locations that they are partiuclarly interested in.  I also added in an option to download the data relating specifically to the user’s selected locations, rather than for all locations.  This meant updating the project’s API to allow any number of locations to be included in the GET request sent to the server.  Unfortunately this uncovered another server setting that was preventing certain requests working.  With many locations selected the URL sent to the API is very long, and in such cases the request was not fully getting through to my API scripts but was instead getting blocked by the server.  Rather than processing the API’s default index page was displaying, but wothout the CSS file properly loadng.  With shorter URLs the request got through fine.  I checked with Chris and a setting on the server was limiting URL parameters to 512 characters in length.  Chris increased this and the request got through and returned the required data.  With this issue out of the way the ‘download group data’ feature worked properly.  I had been making these changes on a temporary version of the atlas in the CMS, but with everything in place I moved my temporary version over to the main atlas, and all seems to be working well.

I had a few meetings this week.  The first was with someone from a start-up company who are wanting to develop some kind of transcription service.  We talked about the SCOTS corpus and its time-aligned transcriptions of audio files.  I’m not sure how much help I really was, however, as what they really need is a tool to create such transcriptions rather than publish them, and the SCOTS project used a different tool to do this called PRAAT.  The guy is going to meet with Jane Stuart-Smith who should be able to give more information on this side of things, and also with Wendy Anderson who knows a bit more about the history of the SCOTS project than I do, so maybe these subsequent meetings will be more useful.  I also met with Ewa Wanat, a PhD student in English Language, who is wanting to put together an app about rhythm and metre in English.  I gave her some advice about the sorts of tools she could use to develop the app and showed her the ‘English Metre’ app I created last year.  She already has a technical partner in mind for her project so probably won’t need me to do the actual work, but I think I was able to give her some useful advice.  I also met with Scott Spurlock from Theology, for whom I will be creating a crowdsourcing tool that will be used to transcribe some records of the Church of Scotland.  There has been a bit of a delay in getting the images for the project, and Scott hasn’t decided what URL he would like for the project, but once these things are sorted I’ll be able to start to work developing the tool, hopefully using some existing technologies.

Before I went away on holiday the SLD people were in touch to say that the Android version of the Scots Dictionary for Schools app had been taken down, and the person with the account details had retired without passing the account details on.  We tried various approaches to get access to the account but in the end it looked like the only thing to do would be to create a new account and republish the app.  Thomas Widmann set up the account just before I went away and I said I’d sort out the technical side of things when I got back to the office.  On Friday this week I tackled this task.  As I suspected, it look rather a long time to get all of the technologies up to date again.  I don’t develop apps all that often and it seems that every time I come to develop a new one (or create a new version of an old one) the software and methodologies needed to publish an app have all changed.  It took most of the morning to install the necessary software updates, and a fair bit of the afternoon to figure out how the new workflow for publishing an app would work.  However, I got there in the end and by the end of the day the new version was available for download (for free) via the Google Play store.  You can access the dictionary app here:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sld.ssd2

I’m on holiday on Monday to Wednesday next week, so next week’s report should be rather shorter.