Week Beginning 2nd September 2019

I had my PDR session this week, so I needed to spend some time preparing for it, attending it, and reworking some of my PDR sections after it.  I think it all went pretty well, though, and it’s good to get it over with for another year.  I had one other meeting this week, with Sophie Vlacos from English Literature.  She is putting a proposal together and I get her some advice on setting up a website and other technical matters.

My main project of the week once again was SCOSYA, and this week I was able to really get stuck into the Experts Atlas interface, which I began work on last week.  I’ve set up the Experts Atlas to use the same grey map as the Public Atlas, but it currently retains the red to yellow markers of the CMS Atlas.  The side panel is slightly wider than the Public Atlas and uses different colours, taken from the logo.  The fractional zoom from the Public Atlas is also included, as is the left-hand menu style (i.e. not taking the full height of the Atlas).  The ‘Home’ map shows the interview locations, with each appearing as a red circle.  There are no pop-ups on this map, but the location name appears as a tooltip when hovered over.

The ‘Search Attributes’ option is mostly the same as the ‘Attribute Search’ option in the CMS Atlas.  I’ve not yet updated the display of the attributes to allow grouping at three as opposed to two levels, probably using a tree-based approach.  This is something I’ll need to tackle next week.  I have removed the ‘interviewed by’ option, but as of yet I haven’t changed the Boolean display.  At a team meeting we had discussed making the joining of multiple attributes default to ‘And’ and to hide ‘Or’ and ‘Not’ but I just can’t think of a way of doing this without ending up with more clutter and complexity.  ‘And’ is already the default option and I personally don’t think it’s too bad to just see the other options, even if they’re not used.

The searches all work in the same way as in the CMS Atlas, but I did need to change the API a little, as when multiple attributes were selected these weren’t being ordered by location (e.g. all the D3 data would display then all the D4 data rather than all the data for both attributes for Aberdeen etc).  This was meaning the full information was not getting displayed in the pop-ups.  I’ve also completely changed the content of the pop-ups so as to present the data in a tabular format.  The average rating appears in a circle to the right of the pop-up, with a background colour reflecting the average rating.  The individual ratings also appear in coloured circles, which I personally think works rather well.  Changing the layout of the popup was a fairly major undertaking as I had to change the way in which the data was processed, but I’d say it’s a marked improvement on the popups in the CMS Atlas.  I removed the descriptions from the popups as these were taking up a lot of space and they can be viewed in the left-hand menu anyway.  Currently if a location doesn’t meet the search criteria and is given a grey marker the popup still lists all of the data that is found for the selected attributes at that location.  I did try removing this and just displaying the ‘did not meet criteria’ message, but figured it would be more interesting for users to see what data there is and how it doesn’t meet the criteria.  Below is a screenshot of the Experts Atlas and an ‘AND’ search selected:

Popups for ‘Or’ and ‘Not’ searches are identical, but for an ‘Or’ search I’ve updated the legend to try and make it more obvious what the different colours and shapes refer to.  In the CMS Atlas the combinations appear as ‘Y/N’ values.  E.g. if you have selected ‘D3 ratings 3-5’ OR ‘Q14 ratings 3-5’ then locations where neither are found were identified as ‘NN’, locations were the D3 was present at these ratings but Q14 wasn’t were identified as ‘YN’, locations without D3 but with Q14 were ‘NY’ and locations with both were ‘YY’.  This wasn’t very easy to understand, so now the legend includes the codes, as the following screenshot demonstrates:

I think works a lot better, but there is a slight issue in that if someone chooses the same code but with different criteria (e.g. ‘D3 rated 4-5 by Older speakers’  OR ‘D3 rated 4-5 by Younger speakers’) the legend doesn’t differentiate between the different ‘D3’s, but hopefully anyone doing such a search would realise the first ‘D3’ relates to their first search selection while the second refers to their second selection.

I have omitted the ‘spurious’ tags from the ratings in the popups and also the comments.  I wasn’t sure whether these should be included, and if so how best to incorporate them.  I’ve also not included the animated dropping down of markers in the Experts Atlas as firstly it’s supposed to be more serious and secondly the drop down effect won’t work with the types of markers used for the ‘Or’ search.  I have also not currently incorporated the areas.  We had originally decided to include these, but they’ve fallen out of favour somewhat, plus they won’t work with ‘Or’ searches, which rely on differently shaped markers as well as colour, and they don’t work so well with group highlighting either.

The next menu item is ‘My search log’, which is what I’ve renamed the ‘History’ feature from the CMS Atlas.  This now appears in the general menu structure rather than replacing the left-hand menu contents.  Previously the rating levels just ran together (e.g. 1234), which wasn’t very clear so I’ve split these up so the description reads something like:

“D3: I’m just after, age: all, rated by 1 or more people giving it at score of 3, 4 or 5 Or Q14: Baremeasurepint, age: all, rated by 1 or more people giving it at score of 3, 4 or 5 viewed at 15:41:00”

As with the CMS Atlas, pressing on a ‘Load’ button loads the search back into the map.  The data download option has also been given its own menu item, and pressing on this downloads the CSV version of the data that’s displayed on the map.  And that’s as far as I’ve got.  The main things still to do are replacing the attribute drop-down list with a three-level tree-based approach and adding in the group statistics feature.  Plus I still need to create the facility for managing users who have been authorised to download the full dataset and creating the login / download options for this.

Also this week I made some changes to the still to launch Glasgow Medical Humanities Network website for Gavin Miller.  I made some minor tweaks, such as adding in the Twitter feed and links to subscribe to the blog, updated the site text on pages that are not part of the WordPress interface.  Gavin also wanted me to grab a copy of all the blogs on another of his sites (http://mhrc.academicblogs.co.uk/) and migrate this to the new site.  However, getting access to this site has proved to be tricky.  Gavin reckoned the domain was set up by UoG, but I submitted a Helpdesk query about it and no-one in IT knows anything about the site.  Eventually someone in the Web Team get back to me to say that the site had been set up by someone in Research Strategy and Innovation and they’d try to get me access, but despite the best efforts of a number of people I spoke to I haven’t managed to get access yet.  Hopefully next week, though.

Also this week I continued to work on the 18th Century Borrowing site for Matthew Sangster.  I have now fixed the issue with the zoomable images that were landscape being displayed on their side, as demonstrated in last week’s post.  All zoomable images should now display properly, although there are a few missing images at the start or end of the registers.  I also developed all of the ‘browse’ options for the site.  It’s now possible to browse a list of all student borrower names.  This page displays a list of all initial letters of the surnames, with a count of the number of students with surnames beginning with the letter.  Clicking on a letter displays a list of all students with surnames beginning with the letter, and a count of the number of records associated with each student.  Clicking on a student brings up the results page, which lists all of the associated records in a tabular format.  This is pretty much identical to the tabular view offered when looking at a page, only the records can come from any page.  As such there is an additional column displaying the register and page number of each record, and clicking on this takes you to the page view, so you can see the record in context and view the record in the zoomable image if you so wish.  There are links back to the results page, and also links back from the results page to the student page.  Here’s an example of the list of students with surnames beginning with ‘C’:

The ‘browse professors’ page does something similar, only all professors are listed on one page rather than being split into different pages for each initial letter of the surname.  This is due to there being a more limited number of professors.  That there are some issues with the data, which is why we have professors listed with names like ‘, &’.  There are what look like duplicates listed as separate professors (e.g. ‘Traill, Dr’) because the surname and / or title fields must have contained additional spaces or carriage returns so the scripts considered the contents to be different.  Clicking on a professor loads the results page in the same way as the students page.  Note that currently there is no pagination of results, so for example clicking on ‘Mr Anderson’ will display all 1034 associated records in one long table.  I might split this up, although in these days of touchscreens people tend to prefer scrolling through long pages rather than clicking links to browse through multiple smaller pages.

‘Browse Classes’ does the same for classes.  I also created two new related tables to hold details of the classes, which enables me to pass a numerical ‘class ID’ in the URL rather than the full class text, which is tidier and more easy to control.  Again, there are issues with the data that results in multiple entries for what is presumably the same class – e.g. ‘Anat, Anat., Anat:, Anato., Anatom, Anatomy’.  Matthew is still working on the data and it might be that creating a ‘normalised’ text field for class is something that we should do.

‘Book Names’ does the same thing for book names.  Again, I’ve written a script that extracts all of the unique book names and stores them once, allowing me to pass a ‘book name ID’ in the URL rather than the full text.  As with ‘students’ an alphabetical list of book names is presented initially due to the number of different books.  And as with other data types, a normalised book name should ideally be recorded as there are countless duplicates with slight variations here, making the browse feature pretty unhelpful as it currently stands.  I’ve taken the same approach with book titles, although surprisingly there is less variation here, even though the titles are considerably longer.  One thing to note is that any book with a title that doesn’t start with an a-z character is currently not included.  There are several that start with ‘….’ And some with ‘[‘ that are therefore omitted.  This is because the initial letter is passed in the URL and for security reasons there are checks in place to stop characters other than a-z being passed.  ‘Browse Authors’ works in the same way, and generally there don’t appear to be too many duplicate variants, although there are some (e.g. ‘Aeschylus’ and ‘Aeschylus.’), and finally, there is browse by lending date, which groups records by month of lending.

Also this week I added a new section to Bryony Randall’s New Modernist Editing site for her AHRC follow-on funding project: https://newmodernistediting.glasgow.ac.uk/the-imprints-of-the-new-modernist-editing/ and I spent a bit of time on DSL duties too.  I responded to a long email from Rhona Alcorn about the data and scripts that Thomas Widmann had been working on before he left, and I looked at some bibliographical data that Ann Ferguson had sent me last week, investigating what the files contained and how the data might be used.

Next week I will continue to focus on the SCOSYA project and try to get the Experts Atlas finished.