I continued to develop the ‘Dictionary Management System’ for the Anglo-Norman Dictionary this week, following on with the work I began last week to allow the editors to drag and drop sets of entry XML files into the system. I updated the form to add in another option underneath the selection of phase statement called ‘Phase Statements for existing records’. Here the editor can choose whether to retain existing statements or replace them. If ‘retain’ is selected then any XML entries attached to the form that either have an existing entry ID in their filename or have a slug that matches an existing entry in the system will retain whatever phase statement the existing entry has, no matter what phase statement is selected in the form. The phase statement selected in the form will still be applied to any XML entries attached to the form that don’t have an existing entry in the system. Selecting ‘replace existing statements’ will ignore all phase statements of existing entries and will overwrite them with whatever phase statement is selected in the form. I also updated the system so that it extracts the earliest date for an entry at the point of upload. I added two new columns to the holding area (for earliest date and the date that is displayed for this) and have ensured that the display date appears on the ‘review’ page too. In addition, I added in an option to download the XML of an entry in the holding area, if it needs further work.
I ran a large-scale upload test, comprising of around 3,200 XML files from the ‘R’ data to see how the system would cope with this, but unfortunately I ran into difficulties with the server rejecting too many requests in a short space of time and only about 600 of the files made it through. I asked Arts IT Support to see whether the server limits can be removed for this script, but haven’t heard anything back yet. I ran into a similar issue when processing files for the Mull and Ulva place-names project in January last year and Raymond was able to update the whitelist for the Apache module mod_evasive that was blocking such uploads and I’m hoping he’ll be able to do something similar this time. Alternatively, I’ll need to try and throttle the speed of uploads in the browser.
In the meantime, I continued with the scripts for publishing entries that had been uploaded to the holding area, using a test version of the site that I set up on my local PC to avoid messing up the live database. I updated the ‘holding area’ page quite significantly. At the top of the page is a box for publishing selected items, and beneath this is the table containing the holding items. Each row now features a checkbox, and there is an option above the table to select / deselect all rows on the page (so currently up to 200 entries can be published in one batch as 200 is the page limit). The ‘preview’ button has been replaced with an ‘eye’ icon but the preview page works in the same way as before. I was intending to add the ‘publish’ options to this page but I’ve moved this to the holding area page instead to allow multiple entries to be selected for publication at any one time.
Once all of the selected items are published there is one final task that the page performs, which is to completely regenerate the cross references data. This is something that unfortunately needs to be done after each batch (even if it’s only one record) because cross references rely on database IDs and when a new version of an existing entry is published it receives a new ID. This means any existing cross references to that item will no longer work. The publication log will state that the regeneration is taking place and then after about 30 seconds another statement will say it is complete. I tested this process on my local PC, publishing single items, a few items and entire pages (200 items) at a time and all seemed to be working fine so I then copied the new scripts to the server.
Also this week I continued with the processing of library registers for the Books and Borrowing project. These are coming in rather quickly now and I’m getting a bit of a backlog. This is because I have to download the image files, then process then to generate tilesets, and then upload all of the images and their tilesets to the server. It’s the tilesets that are the real sticking point, as these consist of thousands of small files. I’m only getting an upload speed of about 70KB/s and I’m having to upload many gigabytes of data. I did a test where I zipped up some of the images and uploaded this zip file instead and was getting a speed of around 900KB/s and as it looks like I can get command-line access to the server I’m going to investigate whether zipping up the files, then uploading them then unzipping them will be a quicker process. I also had to spend some time sorting out connection issues to the server as the Stirling VPN wasn’t letting me connect. It turned out that they had switched to multi-factor authentication and I needed to set this up before I could continue.
Also this week I wrote a summary of the work I’ve done so far for the Place-names of Iona project for a newsletter they’re putting together, spoke to people about the new ‘Comparative Kingship’ place-names project I’m going to be involved with, spoke to the Scots Language Policy people about setting up a mailing list for the project(it turns out that the University has software to handle this, available here: https://www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/it/emaillists/) and fixed an issue relating to the display of citations that have multiple dates for the DSL.
My son returned to school on Monday this week, marking an end to the home-schooling that began after the Christmas holidays. It’s quite a relief to no longer have to split my day between working and home-schooling after so long. This week I continued with some Data Management Plan related activities, completing a DMP for the metaphor project involving Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee and drafting a third version of the DMP for Kirsteen McCue’s proposal following a Zoom call with her on Wednesday.
I also spent some further time on the Books and Borrowing project, creating tilesets and page records for several new volumes. In fact, we ran out of space on the server. The project is digitising around 20,000 pages of library records from 1750-1830 and we’re approaching 5,000 pages so far. I’d originally suggested that we’d need about 60GB of server space for the images (3MB per image x 20,000). However, the JPEGS we’ve been receiving from the digitisation units have been generated at maximum quality / minimum compression and are around 9MB each, so my estimates were out. Dropping the JPEG quality setting down from 12 to 10 would result in 3MB files so I could do this to save space if required. However, there is another issue. The tilesets I’m generating for each image so that they can be zoomed and panned like a Google Map are taking up as much as 18MB per image. So we may need a minimum of 540GB of space (possibly 600GB to be safe): 9×20,000 for the JPEGs plus 18×20,000 for the tilesets. This is an awful lot of space, and storing image tilesets isn’t actually necessary these days of an IIIF server (https://iiif.io/about/) could be set up. IIIF is now well established as the best means of hosting images online and it would be hugely useful to use. Rather than generating and hosting thousands of tilesets at different zoom levels we could store just one image per page on the server and it would serve up the necessary subsection at the required zoom level based on the request from the client. This issue is that people in charge of servers don’t’ like having to support new software. I entered into discussions with Stirling’s IT people about the possibility of setting up an IIIF server, and these talks are currently ongoing, so in the meantime I still need to generate the tilesets.
Also this week I discussed a couple of issues with the Thesaurus of Old English with Jane Roberts. A search was bringing back some word results but when loading the category browser no content was being displayed. Some investigations uncovered that these words were in subcategories of ’02.03.03.03.01’ but there was no main category with that number in the system. A subcategory needs a main category in order to display in the tree browser and as none was available nothing was displaying. Looking at the underlying database I discovered that while there was no ’02.03.03.03.01’ main category there were two ’02.03.03.03.01|01’ subcategories: ‘A native people’ and ‘Natives of a country’. I bumped the former up from subcategory to main category and the search results then worked.
I spent the rest of the week continuing with the development of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary. I made the new bibliography pages live this week (https://anglo-norman.net/bibliography/), which also involved updating the ‘cited source’ popup in the entry page so that it displays all of the new information. For example, go to this page: https://anglo-norman.net/entry/abanduner and click on the ‘A-N Med’ link to see a record with multiple items in it. I also updated the advanced search for citations so that the ‘Citation siglum’ drop-down list uses the new data too.
After that I continued to update the Dictionary Management System. I updated the ‘View / Download Entry’ page so that the ‘Phase’ of the entry can be updated if necessary. In the ‘Phase’ section of the page all of the phases are now listed as radio buttons, with the entry’s phase checked. If you need to change the entry’s phase you can select a different radio button and press the ‘Update Phase’ button. I also added facilities to manage phase statements via the DMS. In the menu there’s now an ‘Add Phase’ button, through which you can add a new phase, and a ‘Browse Phases’ button which lists all of the active phases, the number of entries assigned to each, and an option to edit the phase statement. If there’s a phase statement that has no associated entries you’ll find an option to delete it here too.
I’m still working on the facilities to upload and manage XML entry files via the DMS. I’ve added in a new menu item labelled ‘Upload Entries’ that when pressed on loads a page through which you can upload entry XML files. There’s a text box where you can supply the lead editor initials to be added to the batch of files you upload (any files that already have a ‘lead’ attribute will not be affected) and an option to select the phase statement that should be applied to the batch of files. Below this area is a section where you can either click to open a file browser and select files to upload or drag and drop files from Windows Explorer (or other file browser). When files are attached they will be processed, with the results shown in the ‘Update log’ section below the upload area. Uploaded files are kept entirely separate from the live dictionary until they’ve been reviewed and approved (I haven’t written these sections yet). The upload process will generate all of the missing attributes I mentioned last week – ‘lead’ initials, the various ID fields, POS, sense numbers etc. If any of these are present the system won’t overwrite them so it should be able to handle various versions of files. The system does not validate the XML files – the editors will need to ensure that the XML is valid before it is uploaded. However, the ‘preview’ option (see below) will quickly let you know if your file is invalid as the entry won’t display properly. Note also that you can change the ‘lead’ and the phase statement between batches – you can drag and drop a set of files with one lead and statement selected, then change these and upload another batch. You can of course choose to upload a single file too.
When XML files are uploaded, in the ‘update log’ there will be links directly through to a preview of the entry, but you can also find all entries that have been uploaded but not yet published on the website in the ‘Holding Area’, which is linked to in the DMS menu. There are currently two test files in this. The holding area lists the information about the XML entries that have been uploaded but not yet published, such as the IDs, the slug, the phase statement etc. There is also an option to delete the holding entry. The last two columns in the table are links to any live entry. There are two columns. The first links to the entry as specified by the numerical ID in the XML filename, which will be present in the filename of all XML files exported via the DMS’s ‘Download Entry’ option. This is the ‘existing ID’ column in the table. The second linking column is based on the ‘slug’ of the holding entry (generated from the ‘lemma’ in the XML). The ‘slug’ is unique in the data so if a holding entry has a link in this column it means it will overwrite this entry if it’s made live. For XML files exported view the DMS and them uploaded both ‘live entry’ links should be the same, unless the editor has changed the lemma. For new entries both these columns should be blank.
The ‘Review’ button opens up a preview of the uploaded holding entry in the interface of the live site. This allows the editors to proofread the new entry to ensure that the XML is valid and that everything looks right. You can return to the holding area from this page by pressing on the button in the left-hand column. Note that this is just a preview – it’s not ‘live’ and no-one else can see it.
There’s still a lot I need to do. I’ll be adding in an option to publish an entry in the holding area, at which point all of the data needed for searching will be generated and stored and the existing live entry (if there is one) will be moved to the ‘history’ table. I also maybe need to extract the earliest date information to display in the preview and in the holding area. This information is only extracted when the data for searching is generated, but I guess it would be good to see it in the holding area / preview too. I also need to add in a preview of cross reference entries as these don’t display yet. I should probably also add in an option to allow the editors to view / download the holding entry XML as they might want to check how the upload process has changed this. So still lots to tackle over the coming weeks.
It was another Data Management Plan heavy week this week. I created an initial version of a DMP for Kirsteen McCue’s project at the start of the week and then participated in a Zoom call with Kirsteen and other members of the proposed team on Thursday where the plan was discussed. I also continued to think through the technical aspects of the metaphor-related proposal involving Wendy and colleagues at Duncan Jordanstone College of Art and Design at Dundee and reviewed another DMP that Katherine Forsyth in Celtic had asked me to look at.
Also this week I spent a bit of time working on the Books and Borrowing project, generating more page image tilesets and their corresponding pages for two more of the Edinburgh ledgers and adding an ‘Events’ page to the project website and giving more members of the project team permission to edit the site. I also had an email chat with Thomas Clancy about the Iona project and created a ‘Call for Papers’ page including submission form on the project website (it’s not live yet, though).
I spent the rest of my week continuing to work on the Anglo-Norman Dictionary. We received the excellent news this week that our AHRC application for funding to complete the remaining letters of the dictionary (and carry out more development work) was successful. This week I mage some further tweaks to the new blog pages, adding in the first image in the blog post to the right of the blog snippet on the blog summary page. I also made the new blog pages live, and you can now access them here: https://anglo-norman.net/blog/.
I also made some updates to the bibliography system based on requests from the editors to separate out the display of links to the DEAF website from the actual URLs (previously just the URLs were displayed). I updated the database, the DMS and the new bibliography page to add in a new ‘DEAF link text’ field for both main source text records and items within source text records. I copied the contents of the DEAF field into this new field for all records, I updated the DMS to add in the new fields when adding / editing sources and I updated the new bibliography page so that the text that gets displayed for the DEAF link uses the new field, whereas the actual link through to the DEAF website uses the original field.
The scripts I written when uploading the new ‘R’ dataset needed to make changes to the data to bring it into line with the data already in the system as the ‘R’ data didn’t include some attributes that were necessary for the system to work with the XML files, namely:
In the <main_entry> tag the attribute ‘lead’, which is used to display the editor’s initials in the front end (e.g. “gdw”) and the ‘id’ attribute, which although not used to uniquely identify the entries in my new system is still used in the XML for things like cross-references and therefore is required and must be unique. In the <sense> tag the attribute ‘n’, which increments from 1 within each part of speech and is used to identify senses in the front-end. In the <senseInfo> tag the ID attribute, which is used in the citation and translation searches and the POS attribute which is used to generate the summary information at the top of each entry page. In the <attestation> tag the ID attribute, which is used in the citation search.
We needed to decide how these will be handled in future – whether they will be manually added to the XML as the editors work on them or whether the upload script needs to add them in at the point of upload. We also needed to consider updates to existing entries. If an editor downloads an entry and then works on it (e.g. adding in a new sense or attestation) then the exported file will already include all of the above attributes, except for any new sections that are added. In such cases should the new sections have the attributes added manually, or do I need to ensure my script checks for the existence of the attributes and only adds the missing ones as required?
We decided that I’d set up the systems to automatically check for the existence of the attributes and add them in if they’re not already present. It will take more time to develop such a system but it will make it more robust and hopefully will result in fewer errors. I’ll also add an option to specify the ‘lead’ initials for the batch of files that are being uploaded, but this will not overwrite the ‘lead’ attribute for any XML files in the batch that already have the attribute specified.
I’ll hopefully get a chance to work on this next week. Thankfully this is the last week of home-schooling for us so I should have a bit more time from next week onwards.
There was quite a bit of work to be done for the Books and Borrowing project this week. Several more ledgers had been digitised and needed tilesets and page records generated for them. The former requires the processing and upload of many gigabytes of images files which takes quite some time to complete, especially as the upload speed from my home computer to the server never gets beyond about 56Kb per second. However, I just end up leaving my PC on overnight and generally the upload has completed by the morning. Generating page records generally involves me updating a script to change image filename parts and page numbers, and to specify the first and last page and the script does the rest, but there are some quirks that need to be sorted out manually. For the Wigtown data some of the images were not sequentially numbered, which meant I couldn’t rely on my script to generate the correct page structure. For one of the Edinburgh ledgers the RA has already manually created some pages and had added more than a hundred borrowing records to them so I had to figure out a way to incorporate these. The page images are a double spread (so two pages per image) but the pages the RA had made were individual, so what I needed to do was to remove the manual pages, generate a new set and then update the page references for each of the borrowing records so they appeared on the correct new page.
Also this week I continued to migrate the blogs over to the new Anglo-Norman Dictionary website, a process which I managed to complete. The new blog isn’t live yet, as I asked for feedback from the Editors before I replaced the link to the old blog site, and there are a couple of potential tweaks that I need to make before we’re ready to go. I also had a chat with the Dictionary of the Scots Language people about migrating to a new DNS provider and the impact this might have on email addresses.
The rest of my week was spent working on proposals for two new projects, one for Kirsteen McCue and the other for Wendy Anderson. This involved reading through all of the documentation, making notes and beginning to write the required Data Management Plans. For Wendy’s proposal we also had a Zoom meeting with partners in Dundee and for Kirsteen’s proposal I had an email discussion with partners at the British Library. There’s not really much more I can say about the work I’m doing for these projects, but I’ll be continuing to work on the respective DMPs next week.
I had a couple of Zoom meetings this week, then first on Monday was with the Historical Thesaurus team and members of the Oxford English Dictionary’s team to discuss how our two datasets will be aligned and updated in future. It was an interesting meeting, but there’s still a lot of uncertainty regarding how the datasets can be tracked and connected as future updates are made, at least some of which will probably only become apparent when we get new data to integrate.
My second Zoom meeting was on Tuesday with the Place-Names of Iona project to discuss how we will be working with the QGIS package that team members will be using to access some of the archaeological data and Lidar maps, and also to discuss the issue of 10 digit grid references and the potential change from the old OSGB-36 means of generating latitude and longitude from grid references to the new WGS84 method. It was a productive meeting and we decided that we would switch over to WGS84 and I would update the CMS to incorporate the new library for generating latitude and longitude from grid references.
Also this week I continued to work on the Books and Borrowing project, generating image tilesets for the scans of several volumes of ledgers from Edinburgh University Library and writing scripts to generate pages in the Content Management System, creating ‘next’ and ‘previous’ links as required and associating the relevant images. I also had an email correspondence about some of the querying methods we will develop for the data, such as collocation information.
I also gave some feedback on a data management plan for a project I’m involved with, had a chat with Wendy Anderson about a possible future project she’s trying to set up and spent some time making updates to the underlying data of the Interactive Map of Burns Suppers that launched last month. I didn’t have the time to do a huge amount of work on the Anglo-Norman Dictionary this week, but I still managed to migrate some of the project’s old blog posts to our new site over the course of the week.
Finally, I made some updates to the bibliography system for the Dictionary of the Scots Language, updating the new system so it works in a similar manner to the live site. I added ‘Author’ and ‘Title’ to the drop-down items when searching for both to help differentiate them and a search for an item when the user ignores the drop-down options and manually submits the search now works as it does in the live site. I also fixed the issue with selecting ‘Montgomerie, Norah & William’ resulting in a 404 error. This was caused by the ampersand. There were some issues with other non-alphanumeric characters that I’ve fixed too, including slashes and apostrophes.