Week Beginning 23rd October 2023

After a delightful holiday last week I was back at work again this week.  This involved spending quite a bit of time catching up with emails and dealing with the ongoing issue of migrating sites from old servers to either our new external supplier or a newer server hosted internally.  I was involved with the migration of the SCOTS Corpus to a new server, with my work including fixing a few PHP errors that were cropping up on the more up to date server.  There were also some issues relating to database connections as the original code (which I didn’t write) uses rather a lot of connections – more than the new server was set to allow.  We had thought we’d fixed the issue but it looks like further investigation will be required.

We also migrated the thesaurus.ac.uk site and the Bilingual Thesaurus of Everyday Life in Medieval England (https://thesaurus.ac.uk/bth/) to a new server, which also required tweaking some of the code.  The new server was caching scripts that generated different output each time they were run (e.g. to generate the random category on the homepage), meaning the category wasn’t random but was constantly stuck on ‘Lard a roast’, which wasn’t very helpful.  Thankfully we managed to unstick the cache.

Also this week I investigated an issue with the advanced search of the Dictionaries of the Scots Language as the full-text search had stopped working.  It turned out that the Solr index that powers this search had entirely disappeared from the server, which is more than a little concerning.  It wasn’t a huge issue to rectify as I had the configuration scripts and the data on my PC, but we’re in the dark as to how the index could have been removed.  It had also been brought to my attention that some of the video files I’d uploaded for the Speech Star project before I went on holiday had also disappeared and I’ve reuploaded them too.  Our IT people are investigating what might have caused these issues and if they are linked, but it is concerning.

I also spent a bit of time looking through the old arts.gla.ac.uk server to try and figure out what needed to be retained from it.  It’s mostly old subject area sites that were long ago superseded by T4, plus old conference sites that are no longer needed.  A few of the other sites I’ve already previously moved to T4 myself (e.g. https://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/critical/aboutus/resources/stella/projects/starn/  and https://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/critical/aboutus/resources/stella/projects/bibliography-of-scottish-literature/).  The only site that I think need to be retained are the STELLA apps that I developed from old teaching resources in around 2015.  I therefore requested a new subdomain be set up to host them and migrated them over.  I’ve also requested we set up external hosting for arts.gla.ac.uk, purely to host redirects from old URLs so we don’t end up with broken links.  The new sites are now available (see https://stella.glasgow.ac.uk/aries/, https://stella.glasgow.ac.uk/grammar/, https://stella.glasgow.ac.uk/eoe/, https://stella.glasgow.ac.uk/metre/ and https://stella.glasgow.ac.uk/readings/) but  the redirects from the old URLs are not yet in place.  I’d really like to spend some time redeveloping all of these old apps (apart from ARIES, which has already been redeveloped).  Maybe next year I’ll find some time.

I also set up a new project website for Rhona Brown in Scottish Literature.  I’ve created a bare-bones website at the moment and I’m awaiting further instruction from her on things like themes, colour schemes, site structure and logos.  I also tweaked the project website I’d set up a couple of weeks ago for Petra Poncarova in Scottish Literature to improve the URLs for the Gaelic version of the homepage and helped a project team member get access to a site I’d set up for Matthew Creasy in English Literature.

On Wednesday morning this week I participated in a networking event for the new Research Professional Staff Network.  The event went well and it was very interesting to find out more about other people involved in research support across the University.

For the remainder of the week I began work on the development of the new ‘map first’ interface for the place-names projects, which I’m developing initially for the Iona project.  Below is a screenshot of how things look so far:

At the moment the interface consists of a narrow bar at the top of the browser window with the site’s icon, title and subtitle using the blue colour of the site’s banner as a background.  You can press on the logo or site title to navigate to the main site.  The rest of the browser is taken up with the map.  On the left is the side menu.  As discussed in the requirements document I previously wrote, it consists of four collapsible sections, with ‘Home’ open by default.  I haven’t had the time to implement the search and browse options yet, but the ‘Display options’ section is operational, as you can see above.  Pressing on the section’s title will open the section and you can access the various options.  You can show or hide the side menu by pressing on the button above it.

For the moment the map displays all data that has been marked as ‘on web’ in the CMS (362 records, I think).  By default these are colour-coded by classification code.  The legend is displayed in the top right, allowing you to turn specific features on or off.  You can also show or hide the legend to free up space.  In the bottom right are zoom options plus a ‘full screen’ button that does what you’d expect.  You can press on a map marker to open up the pop-up.  As of yet there is no link through to the full record and some Gaelic fields may be visible.  These will be removed at some point.

Using the ‘Display options’ in the side menu you can change how the map markers are classified.  We may need to be a little more fine-grained with start date and especially altitude.  Also colours for classification codes are currently arbitrarily assigned but we might want to change this – having blue for ‘field’ seems a bit daft, for example.  You can also change the base map and these options are currently the same as for the other place-name sites.  We still need to figure out if / how we can integrate another map of Iona that we discussed at a meeting before I went on holiday.  There is also an option to turn labels on or off.

That’s as far as I’ve got this week.  There’s still a lot to do but I’ve made pretty good progress.  I’ll hopefully find some time to continue with this next week.  I also discovered that the Leaflet mapping library has a method to set the map view so as to show all markers at the closest zoom possible so I’ll ensure I use this when I develop the search and the browse.  I’m currently already using it when the map is first opened to ensure that all of Iona, Soa in the south-west and Eilean Annraidh in the north-east are always visible, no matter what dimensions your screen / browse window are.