Week Beginning 1st February 2021

I had two Zoom calls this week, the first on Wednesday with Kirsteen McCue to discuss a new, small project to publish a selection of musical settings to Burns poems and the second on Friday with Joanna Kopaczyk and her RA on the Scots Language Policy project to give a tutorial on how to use WordPress.

The majority of my week was divided between the Anglo-Norman Dictionary, the Dictionary of the Scots Language and the Place-names of Iona projects.  For the AND I made a few tweaks to the static content of the site and migrated some more blog posts across to the new site (these are not live yet).  I also added commentaries to more than 260 entries, which took some time to test.  I also worked on the DTD file that the editors reference from their XML editing software to ensure that all of the elements and attributes found within commentaries are ‘allowed’ in the XML.  Without doing this it was possible to add the tags in, but this would give errors in the editing software.  I also batch updated all of the entries on the site to reference the new DTD and exported all of the files, zipped them up and sent them to the editors so they can work on them as required.  I also began to think about migrating the TextBase from the old site to the new one, and managed to source the XML files that comprise this system.  It looks like it may be quite tricky to work with these as there are more than 70 book-length XML files to deal with and so far I have not managed to locate the XSLT that was originally used to process these files.

For the DSL I completed work on the new bibliography search pages that use the new ‘V4’ data.  These pages allow the authors and titles of bibliographical items to be searched, results to be viewed and individual items to be displayed.  I also made some minor tweaks to the live site and had a discussion with Ann Fergusson about transferring the project’s data to the people who have set up a new editing interface for them, something I’m hoping to be able to tackle next week.

For the Place-names of Iona project I had a discussion about implementing a new ‘work of the month’ feature and spent quite a bit of time investigating using 10-digit OS grid references in the project’s CMS.  The team need to use up to 10-digit grid references to get 1m accuracy for individual monuments, but the library I use in the CMS to automatically generate latitude and longitude from the supplied grid reference will only work with a 6-digit NGR.  The automatically generated latitude and longitude are then automatically passed to Google Maps to ascertain the altitude of the location and all of this information is stored in the database whenever a new place-name record is created or an existing record is edited.

As the library currently in use will only accept 6-digit NGRs I had to do a bit of research into alternative libraries, and I managed to find one that can accept NGRs of 2,4,6,8 or 10 digits.  Information about the library, including text boxes where you can enter an NGR and see the results can be found here: http://www.movable-type.co.uk/scripts/latlong-os-gridref.html along with an awful lot of description about the calculations and some pretty scary looking formulae.

The library is written in JavaScript, which runs in the client’s browser, whereas the previous library was written in PHP, which runs on the server.  This means I needed to change the way the CMS works – previously you’d enter an NGR and then when the form was submitted to the server the PHP library would generate the latitude and longitude whereas now the latitude and longitude need to be generated in the browser as soon as the NGR is entered into the textbox, and two further textboxes for latitude and longitude will appear in the form and will then be automatically populated with the results.


This does mean the person filling out the form can see the generated latitude and longitude and also tweak it if required before submitting the form, which is a potentially useful thing.  I may even be able to add a Google Map to the form so you can see (and possibly tweak) the point before submitting the form, but I’ll need to look into this further.  I also still need to work on the format of the latitude and longitude as the new library generates them with a compass point (e.g. 6.420848° W) and we need to store them as a purely decimal value (e.g. -6.420848) with ‘W’ and ‘S’ figures being negatives.

However, whilst researching this I discovered a potentially worrying thing that needs discussion with the wider team.  The way the Ordnance Survey generates latitude and longitude from their grid references was changed in 2014.  Information about this can be found in the page linked to above in the ‘Latitude/longitudes require a datum’ section.  Previously the OS used ‘OSGB-36’ to generate latitude and longitude, but in 2014 this was changed to ‘WGS84’, which is used by GPS systems.  The difference in the latitude / longitude figures generated by the two systems is about 100 metres, which is quite a lot if you’re intending to pinpoint individual monuments.

The new library has facilities to generate latitude and longitude using either the new or old systems, but defaults to the new system.  I’ve checked the output of the library we currently use and it uses the old ‘OSGB-36’ system.  This means all of the place-names in the system so far (and all those for the previous projects) have latitudes and longitudes generated using the now obsolete (since 2014) system. To give an example of the difference, the place-name A’ Mhachair in the CMS has this location: https://www.google.com/maps/place/56%C2%B019’33.2%22N+6%C2%B025’11.4%22W/@56.3258889,-6.422022,582m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d56.325885!4d-6.419828 and with the newer ‘WGS84’ system it would have this location: https://www.google.com/maps/place/56%C2%B019’32.7%22N+6%C2%B025’15.1%22W/@56.325744,-6.4230367,582m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d56.325744!4d-6.420848

So what we need to decide before I replace the old library with the new one in the CMS is whether we switch to using ‘WGS84’ or we keep using ‘OSGB-36’.  As I say, this will need further discussion before I implement any changes.

Also this week I responded to a query from Cris Sarg of the Medical Humanities Network project, spoke to Fraser Dallachy about future updates to the HT’s data from the OED, made some tweaks to the structure of the SCOSYA website for Jennifer Smith, added a plugin to the Editing Burns site for Craig Lamont and had a chat with the Books and Borrowing people about cleaning the authors data, importing the Craigston data and how to deal with a lot of borrowers that were excluded from the Selkirk data that I previously imported.

Next week I’ll be on holiday from Monday to Wednesday to cover the school half term.