Week Beginning 21st June 2021

This was a four-day week for me as I’m off on Friday and will be off all of next week too.  A big thing I ticked off my ‘to do’ list this week was completing work on the ‘Browse’ facility for the Anglo-Norman Textbase, featuring each text on its own continuous page rather than split into sometimes hundreds of individual pages.  I finished updating the way footnotes work, and they are now renumbered starting at [1] on each page of each text no matter what format they originally had.  All of the issues I’d noted about footnote numbers in my previous couple of blog posts have now been addressed (e.g. numbering out of sequence, numbers getting erroneously repeated).

With the footnotes in place I then we through each of the 77 texts to check their layout, which took quite some time but also raised a few issues that needed to be fixed.  The biggest thing was I needed to regenerate the page number data (used in the ‘jump to page’ feature) as I realised the previously generated data was including all <pb> tags, but some of the texts such as ‘indentures’ use <pb> to mean something else.  For example, ‘<pb ed=”MS” n=”Dorse”/>’ is not an actual page break and there are numerous of these occurrences throughout the text, resulting in lots of ‘Dorse’ options in the ‘jump to page’ list.  Instead I limited the page breaks to just those that have ‘ed=”base”’ in them, e.g. ‘<pb n=”49″ ed=”base”/>’ and this seems to have done the trick.

I also noticed some issues with paragraph and table tags in footnotes causing the notes to display in the wrong place or display only partially, and the ‘dorse’ issue was also resulting in footnotes getting added to the wrong page sometimes.  Thankfully I managed to fix these issues and so as far as I can tell that’s the ‘browse’ facility of the Textbase complete.  The editors don’t want to launch the Textbase until the search facilities have also been developed, so it’s going to be a while until they’re actually available, what with summer holidays and commitments to other projects.

Also this week I continued to work on the Books and Borrowings project, having an email conversation with the digitisers at the NLS about file formats and methods of transferring files, and making further updates to the CMS to add features and make things run quicker.  I managed to reduce the number of database calls on the ‘Books’ tab in the library view again, which should mean the page loads faster.  Previously all book holding records were returned and then a separate query was executed for each to count the number of borrowings whereas I’ve now nested the count query in the initial query.  So for St Andrews with its 7471 books this has cut out 7471 individual queries.

I’d realised that the ‘borrowing records’ count column in this ‘Books’ table isn’t actually a count of borrowing records at all, but a count of the number of book items that have been borrowed for the book holding.  I’ve figured out a way to return a count of borrowing records instead, and I replaced the old way with the new way, so the ‘Borrowing Records’ column now does what it should do.  This means the numbers listed have changed, e.g. ‘Universal History’ now has 177 borrowing records rather than 269 and is no longer the most borrowed book holding at St Andrews.  I also changed the popup so that each borrowing record only appears once (e.g. David Gregory on 1748-6-7 now only has one borrowing record listed).  I added a further ‘Total borrowed items’ column in as well, to hold the information that was previously in the ‘Borrowing Records’ column, and it’s possible to order the table by this column too.  I also noticed that I’d accidentally removed columns displaying additional fields from the table, so I have reinstated these.  For St Andrews this means the ‘Classmark’ column is now back in the table.  I also realised that my new nested count queries were not limiting their counts when a specific register was selected so updated them to take this into consideration too.

Also this week I updated all of the WordPress sites I manage to the latest version and ensured all plugins were updated too.  I then began working on the public interfaces for the Comparative Kingship place-names project, which will have separate interfaces for its Scotland and Ireland data.  So far I’ve modified the existing place-names API so that it works with a database table prefix and got the API working for the Scotland data.  I then began working on the front-end that connects to this API and have managed to get the ‘browse’ option sort of working, although there are still some issues with layout and JavaScript due to the site using a different theme to the other place-names sites.  I’ll continue looking into this once I’m back from my holidays on the 5th of July.