I headed into the University for the first time this year on Wednesday this week to collect a new iPad that I’d ordered and to get some files from my office. It was great to see the old place again, but it did take quite a chunk out of my day to travel there and back, especially as I’m still home-schooling either a morning or an afternoon each day at the moment too.
As with last week, I mainly divided my time this week between the Dictionary of the Scots Language, the Anglo-Norman Dictionary and the Books and Borrowing project, with a few other bits and bobs added in as well. For the DSL I retrieved the source code for my original Scots School Dictionary app from my office so we can host this somewhere on the DSL website. This is because the DSL have commissioned someone else to make a new School Dictionary app, which launched this week, but doesn’t include an ‘English to Scots’ feature as the old app does, so we’re going to make the old app available as a website for those people who miss the feature. I also made a few minor tweaks to the main DSL site, and then focussed on adding bibliography search facilities to the new version of the API, a task that I’d begun last week.
I created a new table for the bibliographical data that includes the various fields used for DOST (note, author, editor, date, longtitle etc) and a field for the XML data used for SND. I then created two further tables for searching, one that contains every author and editor name for each item (for DOST there may be different names in the author, editor, longauthor and longeditor fields while for SND there may be any number of <author> tags) and the other containing every title for each item (DOST may have different text in title and longtitle while SND items can have any number of <title> tags). These tables allow you to search for any variant author, editor or title and find the item.
I also created two additional fields in the bibliography table that contain the ‘display author’ and ‘display title’. These are the forms that get displayed in the search results before you click on an item to open the full bibliographical entry. I then updated the V4 API to add in facilities to search and retrieve the bibliographies. I didn’t have the time to connect to this API and to implement the search on the Sienna test site, which is something I hope to do next week, but the logic behind the search and display of bibliographies is all there. There is a predictive search that will be used to generate the autocomplete list, similar to how the live site currently works: You will be able to select whether your search is for authors, titles or both and when you start typing in some text a list of matching items will appear, e.g. typing in ‘ham’ for authors in both dictionaries will display the following all items containing ‘ham’ and when you select an item this will then perform a search for the specific text. You will then be able to click on an item to view the full bibliography. This is a bit different to how the live site currently works, as with these if you enter ‘ham’ and select (for example) ‘Hamilton, J,’ from the autocomplete list you are taken directly to a page that lists all of the items for the author. However, we can’t do that any more as we no longer have unique identifiers that group bibliographical items by author. I may be able to do something similar with the page that comes up when you select an author, but this would have to rely on the name to group items together and a name may not be unique.
For the AND I made some tweaks to the website, such as adding a link to the search page if you type some text into the ‘jump to entry’ option and no matching entries are found. I then spent the rest of my time continuing to develop the new content management system, specifically the pages for managing source texts. I finished work on this, adding in facilities to add, edit, browse and delete source texts from the database. I then migrated the DTD to the new site, which is referenced by the editors’ XML editor when they work on the entry XML files. The DTD on the old server referenced several lists of things that are then used to populate drop-down lists of options in the XML editor. I migrated these too, making them dynamically generated from the underlying database rather than statis lists, meaning when (for example) new source texts are added to the CMS these will automatically become available when using the XML editor.
For the Books and Borrowing project I participated in the project’s Zoom call on Monday to discuss the project’s CMS and how to amalgamate the various duplicate author records that resulted from data uploads from different libraries. After the call I made some required changes to the CMS, such as making the editor’s notes fields visible by default again, and worked on the duplicate authors matching script to add in further outputs when comparing the author names with Levenshtein ratings of 1 and 2. I also reviewed some content that was sent to us from another library.
Also this week I responded to an email from James Caudle in Scottish Literature about a potential project he’s setting up, made a couple of changes to the Scots Language Policy website, made some tweaks to the menu structure for the Scots Syntax Atlas project and gave some advice to a post-grad student who had contacted me about setting up a corpus.
I worked on many different projects this week, with most of my time being split between the Dictionary of the Scots Language, the Anglo-Norman Dictionary, the Books and Borrowing project and the Scots Language Policy project. For the DSL I began investigating adding the bibliographical data to the new API and developing bibliographical search facilities. Ann Ferguson had sent me spreadsheets containing the current bibliographical data for DOST and SND and I migrated this data into a database and began to think about how the data needs to be processed in order to be used on the website. At the moment links to bibliographies from SND entries are not appearing in the new version of the API, while DOST bibliographical links do appear but don’t lead anywhere. Fixing the latter should be fairly straightforward but the former looks to be a bit trickier.
For SND for the live site using the original V1 API it looks like the bibliographical links are stored in a database table and these are then injected into the XML entries whenever an entry is displayed. A column in the table contains the order the citation appears in the entry and this is how the system knows which bibliographical ID to assign to which link in the entry. This raises some questions about what happens when an entry is edited. If the order of the citations in the XML is changed, or a new citation is added then all of the links to the bibliographies will be out of sync. Plus, unless the database table is edited no new bibliographical links will ever display. It is possible that the data in bibliographical links table is already out of date and we are going to need to try and find a way to add these bibliographical links into the actual XML entries rather than retaining the old system of storing them separately and then injected then each time the entry is requested. I emailed Ann for further discussion about these points. Also this week I made a few updates to the live DSL website, changing the logos that are used and making ‘Dictionary’ in the title plural.
For the AND this week I added in the missing academic articles that Geert had managed to track down and then began focusing on updating the source texts and working with the commentaries for the R data. The commentaries were sent to me in two Word files, and although we had hoped to be able to work out a mechanism for automatically extracting these and adding them to their corresponding entries it looks like this will be very difficult to achieve with any accuracy. I concluded that I could split the entries up in Geert’s document based on the ‘**’ characters between commentaries and possibly split Heather’s up based on blank lines. I could possibly retain the formatting (bold, italic, superscript text etc) and convert this to HTML, although even this would be tricky, time consuming and error-prone. The commentaries include links to other entries in bold, and I would possibly be able to automatically add in links to other entries based on entries appearing in bold in the commentaries, but again this would be highly error-prone as bold text is used for things other than entries, and sometimes the entry number follows a hash while at other times it’s superscript. It would also be difficult to automatically ascertain which entry a commentary belongs to as there is some inconsistency here too – e.g. the commentary for ‘remuement’ is listed as ‘[remuement]??’ and there are other occasions where the entry doesn’t appear on its own on a line – e.g. ‘Retaillement xref with recelement’ and ‘Reverdure—Geert says to omit’. Then there are commentaries that are all crossed out, e.g. ‘resteot’. We decided that attempting to automatically process the commentaries would not be feasible and instead the editors would add them to the entry XML files manually, adding the tags for bold, italic, superscript and other formatting as required. Geert added commentaries to two entries to see how this would work and it worked very well.
For the source texts, we had originally discussed the editors editing these via a spreadsheet that I’d generated from the online data last year, but I decided it would be better if I just start work on the new online Dictionary Management System (DMS) and create the means of adding, listing and editing the source texts as the first thing that can be managed via the new DMS. This seemed preferable to establishing a new, temporary workflow that may take some time to set up and may end up not being used for very long. I therefore created the login and initial pages for the DMS (by repurposing earlier content management systems I’d created). I then set up database tables for holding the new source text data, which includes multiple potential items for each source and a range of new fields that the original source text data does not contain. With this in place I created the DMS pages for browsing the source texts and deleting them, and I’m midway through writing the scripts for editing existing and adding new source texts. I aim to have this finished next week.
For the Books and Borrowing project I continued to make refinements to the CMS, namely reducing the number of books and borrowers from 500 to 200 to speed up page loads, adding in the day of the week that books were borrowed and returned, based on the date information already in the system, removing tab characters for edition titles as these were causing some issues for the system, replacing the editor’s notes rich text box with a plain text area to save space on the edit page and adding a new field to the borrowing record that allows the editor to note when certain items appear for display only and should otherwise be overlooked, for example when generating stats. This is to be used for duplicate lines and lines that are crossed out. I also had a look through the new sample data from Craigston that was sent to us this week.
For the Scots Language Policy project I set up the project’s website, including the user interface, adding in fonts, plugins, initial page structure, site graphics, logos etc. Also this week I fixed an issue with song downloads on the Burns website (the plugin the controls the song downloads is very old and had broken. I needed to install a newer version and upgrade the song data for the downloads to work again. I also continued my email conversation with Rachel Fletcher about a project she’s putting together and created a user account to allow Simon Taylor to access the Ayr Placenames CMS.
This was my first full week back of the year, although it was also the first week of a return to homeschooling, which made working a little trickier than usual. I also had a dentist’s appointment on Tuesday and lost some time to that due to my dentist being near the University rather than where I live. However, despite these challenges I was able to achieve quite a lot this week. I had two Zoom calls, the first on Monday to discuss a new ESRC grant that Jane Stuart-Smith is putting together with colleagues at Strathclyde while the second on Wednesday was with a partner in Joanna Kopaczyk’s new RSC funded project about Scots Language Policy to discuss the project’s website and the survey they’re going to put out. I also made a few tweaks to the DSL website, replied to Kirsteen McCue about the AHRC proposal she’s currently putting together, replied to a query regarding the technologies behind the Scots Syntax Atlas, made a few further updates to the Burns Supper map and replied to a query from Rachel Fletcher in English Language about lemmatising Old English.
Other than these various tasks I split my time between the Anglo-Norman Dictionary and the Books and Borrowing projects. For the former I completed adding explanatory notes to all of the ‘Introducing the AND’ pages. This was a very time consuming task as there were probably about 150 explanatory notes in total to add in, each appearing in a Bootstrap dialog box, and each requiring me to copy the note form the old website, add in any required HTML formatting, find and check all of the links to AND entries on the old site and add these in as required. It was pretty tedious to do, but it feels great to get it done, as the notes were previously just giving 404 errors on the new live site, and I don’t like having such things on a site I’m responsible for. I also migrated the academic articles from the old site to the new one (https://anglo-norman.net/articles/) which also required some manual formatting of the content. There are five other articles that I haven’t managed to migrate yet as they are full of character encoding errors on the old site. Geert is looking for copies of these articles that actually work and I’ll add them in once he’s able to get them to me. I also begin migrating the blog posts to the new site too. Currently the blog is hosted on Blogspot and there are 55 entries, but we’d like these to be an internal part of the new site. Migrating these is going to take some time as it means copying the text (which thankfully retains formatting) and then manually saving and embedding any images in the posts. I’m just going to do a few of these a week until they’re all done and so far I’ve migrated seven. I also needed to look into how the blogs page works in the WordPress theme I created for the AND, as to start with the page was just listing the full text of every post rather than giving summaries and links through to the full text of each. After some investigation I figured out that in my theme there is a script called ‘home.php’ and this is responsible for displaying all of the blog posts on the ‘blog’ page. It in turn calls another template called ‘content-blog.php’ which was previously set to display the full content of the blog. Instead I set it to display the title as a link through to the full post, the date and then an excerpt from the full blog, which can be accessed through a handy WordPress function called ‘the_excerpt()’.
For the Books and Borrowing project I made some improvements and fixes to the Content Management System. I’d been meaning to enhance the CMS for some time, but due to other commitments to other projects I didn’t have the time to delve into it. It felt good to find the time to return to the project this week.
I updated the ‘Books’ and ‘Borrowers’ tabs when viewing a library in the CMS. I added in pagination to speed up the loading of the pages. Pages are now split into 500 record blocks and you can navigate between pages using the links above and below the tables. For some reason the loading of the page is still a bit slow on the Stirling server whereas it was fine on the Glasgow server I was using for test purposes. I’m not entirely sure why as I’d copied the database over too – presumably the Stirling server is slower. However, it is still a massive improvement on the speed of the page previously.
I also changed the way tables scroll horizontally. Previously if a table was wider than the page a scrollbar appeared above and below the table, but this was rather awkward to use if you were looking at the middle of the table (you had to scroll up or down to the beginning or end of the table, then use the horizontal scrollbar to move the table along a bit, then navigate back to the section of the page you were interested in). Now the scrollbar just appears at the bottom of the browser window and can always be accessed no matter where in the table you are.
I also removed the editorial notes from tables by default to reduce clutter, and added in a button for showing / hiding the editors’ notes near the top of each page. I also added a limit option in the ‘Books’ and ‘Borrowers’ pages within a library to limit the displayed records to only those found in a specific ledger. I added in a further option to display those records that are not currently associated with any ledgers too.
I then deleted the ‘original borrowed date’ and ‘original returned date’ fields in St Andrews data as these were no longer required. I deleted these additional fields from the system and all data that were contained in these fields.
It had been noted that the book part numbers were not being listed numerically. As part numbers can contain text as well as numbers (e.g. ‘Vol. II’), this field in the database needed to be set as text rather than an integer. Unfortunately the database doesn’t order numbers correctly when they are contained in a non-numerical field – instead all the ones come first (1, 10, 11) then all the twos (2, 20, 22) etc. However, I managed to find a way to ensure that the numbers are ordered correctly.
I also fixed the ‘Add another Edition/Work to this holding’ button that was not working. This was caused by the Stirling server running a different version of PHP that doesn’t allow functions to have variable numbers of arguments. The autocomplete function was also not working at edition level and I investigated this. The issue was being caused by tab characters appearing in edition titles, and I updated my script to ensure these characters are stripped out before the data is formatted as JSON.
There may be further tweaks to be made – I’ll need to hear back from the rest of the team before I know more, but for now I’m up to date with the project. Next week I intend to get back into some of the larger and more trickier outstanding AND tasks (of which there are, alas, many) and to begin working towards adding the DSL bibliography data into the new version of the API.
This was my first week back after the Christmas holidays, and I only worked the Thursday and the Friday. We’re back in full lockdown and homeschooling again now, so it’s not the best of starts to the new year. I spent my two days this week catching up with emails and finishing off some outstanding tasks from last year. I spoke to Joanna Kopaczyk about her new RSE funded project that I need to set up a website for, and I had a chat with the DSL people about the outstanding tasks that still need to be tackled for the Dictionary of the Scots Language. I also added a few more Burns Suppers to the Supper Map that I created over the past year for Paul Malgrati in Scottish Literature, which was a little time consuming as the data is contained in a spreadsheet featuring more than 70 columns.
I spent the remainder of the week continuing to work on the new Anglo-Norman Dictionary site, which we launched just before Christmas. The editors, Geert and Heather, had spotted some issues with the site whilst using it so I had a few more things to add to my ‘to do’ list, some of which I ticked off. One such thing was that entries with headwords that consisted of multiple words weren’t loading. This required an update to the way the API handles variables passed in URL strings, and after I implemented that such entries then loaded successfully.
A bigger issue was the fact that some citations were not appearing in the entries. This took some time to investigate but I eventually tracked down the problem. I’d needed to write a script that reordered all of the citations in every sense in every entry by date, as previously the citations were not in date order. However, when looking at the entries that had missing citations it would appear that where a sense has more than one citation in the same year only one of these citations was appearing. This is because within each sense I was placing the citations in an array with the year as the key, e.g:
$citation[“1134”] = citation 1
$citation[“1362”] = citation 2
$citation[“1247”] = citation 3
I was then reordering the array based on the key to get things in year order. But where there were multiple citations in a single year for a sense this approach wasn’t working as the array key needs to be unique. So if there were two ‘1134’ citations only one was being retained. To fix this I updated the reordering script to add a further incrementing number to the key, so if there are two ‘1134’ citations the key for the first is ‘1134-1’ and the second is ‘1134-2’. This ensures all citations for a year are retained and the sorting by key still works. After implementing the fix and rerunning the citation ordering script I updated the XML in the online database and the missing citations are now thankfully appearing online.
I ended the week by continuing to work through the ancillary pages of the dictionary, focusing on the ‘Introducing the AND’ pages (https://anglo-norman.net/introducing-the-and/). I’d managed to get the main content of the pages in place before Christmas, but explanatory notes and links were not working. There are about 50 explanatory notes in the ‘Magna Carta’ page and I needed to copy all of these from the old site and add them to a Bootstrap dialog pop-up, which was rather time-consuming. I also had to update the links through to the dictionary entries as although I’d added redirects to ensure the old links worked, some of the links in these pages didn’t feature an entry number where one was required. For example on the page about food there was a link to ‘pere’ but the dictionary contains three ‘pere’ entries and the correct one is actually the third (the fruit pear). I still need to fix links and explanatory notes in the two remaining pages of the introduction, which I will try to get sorted next week.
This was my last week before the Christmas holidays, and it was a four-day week as I’d taken Friday off to use up some unspent holidays. Despite only being four days long it was a very hectic week, as I had lots of loose ends to tie up before the launch of the new Anglo-Norman Dictionary website on Wednesday. This included tweaking the appearance of ‘Edgloss’ tags to ensure they always have brackets (even if they don’t in the XML), updating the forms to add line breaks between parts of speech and updating the source texts pop-ups and source texts page to move the information about the DEAF website.
I also added in a lot of the ancillary page data, including the help text, various essays, the ‘history’ page, copyright and privacy pages, the memorial lectures and the multi-section ‘introduction to the AND’. I didn’t quite manage to get all of the links working in the latter and I’ll need to return to this next year. I also overhauled the homepage and footer, adding in the project’s Twitter feed, a new introduction and adding links to Twitter and Facebook to the footer.
I also identified and fixed an error with the label translations, which were sometimes displaying the wrong translation. My script that extracted the labels was failing to grab the sense ID for subsenses. This ID is only used to pull out the appropriate translation, but because of the failure the ID of the last main sense was being used instead. I therefore had to update my script and regenerate the translation data. I also updated the label search to add in citations as well as translations. This means the search results page can get very long as both labels and translations are applied at sense level, so we end up with every citation in a matching sense listed, but apparently this is what’s wanted.
I also fixed the display of ‘YBB’ sources, which for some unknown reason are handled differently to all other sources in the system and fixed the issue with deviant forms and their references and parts of speech.
On Wednesday we made the site live, replacing the old site with the new one, which you can now access here: https://anglo-norman.net/. It wasn’t entirely straightforward to get the DNS update working, but we got there in the end, and after making some tweaks to paths and adding in Google Analytics the site was ready to use, which is quite a relief. There is still a lot of work to do on the site, but I’m very happy with the progress I’ve made with the site since I began the redevelopment in October.
Also this week I set up a new website for phase two of the ‘Editing Burns for the 21st Century’ project and upgraded all of the WordPress sites I manage to the most recent version. I also arranged a meeting with Jane Stuart-Smith to discuss a new project in the New Year, replied to Kirsteen McCue about a proposal she’s finishing off, replied to Simon Taylor about a new place-name project he wants me to be involved with and replied to Carolyn Jess-Cooke about a project of hers that will be starting next year.
That’s all for 2020. Here’s hoping 2021 is not going to be quite so crazy!
I spent most of the week working on the Anglo-Norman Dictionary as we’re planning on launching this next week and there was still much to be done before that. One of the big outstanding tasks was to reorder all of the citations in all senses within all entries so they are listed by their date. This was a pretty complex task as each entry may any number of up to four different types of sense: main senses, subsenses and then main senses and subsenses within locutions. My script needed to be able to extract the dates for each citation within each of these blocks, figure out their date order, rearrange the citations by this order and then overwrite the XML section with the reordered data. Any loss of or mangling of the data would be disastrous and with almost 60,000 entries being updated it would not be possible to manually check that everything worked in all circumstances.
Updating the XML proved to be a little tricky as I had been manipulating the data with PHP’s simplexml functionsand it doesn’t include a facility to replace a child node. This meant that I couldn’t tell the script to identify a sense and replace its citations with a new block. In addition, the XML was not structured to include a ‘citations’ element that contained all of the individual citations for an entry but instead just listed each citation as an ‘attestation’ element within the sense, therefore it wasn’t straightforwardly possible to replace the clock of citations with an updated block. Instead I needed to reconstruct the sense XML in its entirety, including both the complete set of citations and all other elements and attributes contained within the sense, such as IDs, categories and labels. With a completely new version of the sense XML stored in memory by the script I then needed to write this to the XML, and for this I needed to use PHP’s DOM manipulation functions because (as mentioned earlier) simplexml has no means of identifying and replacing a child node.
I managed to get a version of my script working and all seemed to be well with the entries I was using for test purposes so I ran the script on the full dataset and replaced the data on the website (ensuring that I kept a record of the pre-reordered data handy in case of any problems). When the editors reviewed the data they noticed that while the reordering had worked successfully for some senses, it had not reordered others. This was a bit strange and I therefore had to return to my script to figure out what had gone wrong. I noticed that only the citations in the first sense / subsense / locution sense / locution subsense had been reordered, with others being skipped. But when I commented out the part of the script that updated the XML all senses were successfully being picked out. This seemed strange to me as I didn’t see why the act of identifying senses should be affected by the writing of data. After some investigation I discovered that with PHP’s simplexml implementation if you iterate through nodes using a ‘foreach’ and then update the item picked out by the loop (so for example in ‘foreach($sense as $s)’ updating $s) then subsequent iterations fail. It would appear that updating $s in this example changes the XML string that’s loaded into memory which then means the loop reckons it’s reached the end of the matching elements and stops. My script had different loops for going through senses / subsenses / locution senses / locution subsenses which is why the first of each type was being updated while others weren’t. After I figured this out I updated my script to use a ‘for’ loop instead of a ‘foreach’ and stored $s within the scope of the loop only and this worked. With the change in place I reran the script on the full dataset and uploaded it to the website and all thankfully appears to have worked.
For the rest of the week I worked through my ‘to do’ list, ticking items off. I updated the ‘Blog’ menu item to point to the existing blog site (this will eventually be migrated across). The ‘Textbase’ menu item now loads a page stating that this feature will be added in 2021. I managed to implement the ‘source texts’ page as it turns out that I’d already developed much of the underpinnings for this page whilst developing other features. As with citation popups, it links into the advanced search and also to the DEAF website. I figured out how to ensure that words with accented characters is citation searches now appear separately in the list from their non-accented versions. E.g. a search for ‘apres*’ now has ‘apres (28)’ separate from ‘après (4)’ and ‘aprés (2229)’. We may need to think about the ordering, though, as accented characters are currently appearing at the end of the list. I also made the words lower case here – they were previously being transformed into upper case. Exact searches (surrounded by quotes) are still accent-sensitive. This is required so that the link through the list of forms to the search results works (otherwise the results display all accented and non-accented forms). I also ensured that word highlighting in snippets in results now works as it should with accented characters and upper case initial letters are now retained too.
I added in an option to return to the list of forms (i.e. the intermediate page) from the search results. In addition to ‘Refine your search’ there is also a ‘Select another form’ button and I ensured that the search results page still appears when there is only one search result for citation and translation searches now. I also figured out why multiple words were sometimes being returned in the citation and translation searches. This was because what looked like spaces between words in the XML were sometimes not regular spaces but non-breaking space characters (\u00a0). As my script split up citations and translations on spaces these were not being picked up as divisions between words. I needed to update my script to deal with these characters and then regenerate all of the citation and translation data again in order to fix this.
I also ensured that when conducting a label search the matching labels in an entry page are now highlighted and the page automatically scrolls down to the first matching label. I also made several tweaks to the XSLT, ensuring that where there are no dates for citations the text ‘TBD’ appears instead and ensuring a number of tags that were not getting properly transformed were handled.
Also this week I made some final changes to the interactive map of Burns Suppers, including tweaking the site icon so it looks a bit nicer and adding in a ‘read more’ button to the intro text and fixing the scrolling issue on small screens, plus updating the text to show 17 filters. I fixed the issue with the attendance filter and have also updated the layout of the filters so they look better on both monitors and mobile devices.
My other main task of the week was to restructure the Mapping Metaphor website based on suggestions for REF from Wendy and Carole. This required a lot of work as the visualisations needed to be moved to different URLs and the Old English map, which was previously a separate site in a subdirectory, needed to be amalgamated with the main site.
I removed the top-level tabs that linked between MM, MMOE and MetaphorIC and also the ‘quick search’ box. The ‘metaphor of the day’ page now displays both a main and an OE connection and the ‘Metaphor Map of English’ / ‘Metaphor Map of Old English’ text in the header has been removed. I reworked the navigation bar in order to allow a sub-navigation bar to appear. It is now positioned within the header and is centre-aligned. ‘Home’ now features introductory text rather than the visualisation. ‘About the project’ now has the new secondary menu rather than the old left-panel menu. This is because the secondary menu on the map pages couldn’t have links in the left-hand panel as it’s already used for something else. It’s better to have the sub-menu displaying consistently across different sections of the site. I updated the text within several ‘About’ pages and ‘How to Use’, which also now has the new secondary menu. The main metaphor map is now in the ‘Metaphor Map of English’ menu item. This has sub-menu items for ‘search’ and ‘browse’. The OE metaphor map is now in the ‘Metaphor Map of Old English’ menu item. It also has sub-menu items for ‘search’ and ‘browse’. The OE pages retain their purple colour to make a clear distinction between the OE map and the main one. MetaphorIC retains the top-level navigation bar but now only features one link back to the main MM site. This is right-aligned to avoid getting in the way of the ‘Home’ icon that appears in the top left of sub-pages. The new site replaced the old one on Friday and I also ensured that all of the old URLs continue to work (e.g. the ‘cite this’ will continue to work.
I took Friday off again this week as I needed to go and collect a new pair of glasses from my opticians in the West End, which is quite a trek from my house. Although I’d taken the day off I ended up working for about three hours as on Thursday Fraser Dallachy emailed me to ask about the location of the semantically tagged EEBO dataset that we’d worked on a couple of years ago. I didn’t have this at home but I was fairly certain I had it on a computer in my office so I decided to take the opportunity to pop in and locate the data. I managed to find a 10Gb tar.gz file containing the data on my desktop PC, along with the unzipped contents (more than 25,000 files) in another folder. I’d taken an empty external hard drive with me and began the process of copying the data, which took hours. I’d also remembered that I’d developed a website where the tagged data could be searched and that this was on the old Historical Thesaurus server, but unfortunately it no longer seemed to be accessible. I also couldn’t seem to find the code or data for it on my desktop PC, but I remembered the previously I’d set up one of the four old desktop PCs I have sitting in my office as a server and the system was running on this. It took me a while to get the old PC connected and working, but I managed to get it to boot up. It didn’t have a GUI installed so everything needed to be done at the command line, but I located the code and the database. I had planned to copy this to a USB stick, but the server wasn’t recognising USB drives (in either NTFS or FAT format) so I couldn’t actually get the data off the machine. I decided therefore to install Ubuntu Linux on a bootable USB stick and to get the old machine to boot into this rather than run the operating system on the hard drive. Thankfully this worked and I could then access the PC’s hard drive from the GUI that ran from the USB stick. I was able to locate the code and the data and copy them onto the external hard drive, which I then left somewhere that Fraser would be able to access it. Not a bad bit of work for a supposed holiday.
As with previous week’s I split my time mostly between the Anglo-Norman Dictionary and the Dictionary of the Scots Language. For the AND I finally updated the user interface. I added in the AND logo and updated the colour schemes to reflect the colours used in the logo. I’m afraid the colours used in the logo seem to be straight out of a late 1990s website so unfortunately the new interface has that sort of feel about it too. The header area now has a white background as the logo needs a white background to work. The ‘quick search’ option is now better positioned and there is a new bar for the navigation buttons. The active navigation button and other site buttons are now the ‘A’ red, panels are generally the ‘N’ blue and the footer is the ‘D’ green. The main body is now slightly grey so that the entry area stands out from it. I replaced the header font (Cinzel) with a Cormorant Garamond as this more closely resembles the font used in the logo.
The left-hand panel has been reworked so that entries are smaller and their dates and right-aligned. I also added stripes to make it easier to keep your eye on an entry and its date. The fixed header that appears when you scroll down a longer entry now features the AND logo/ The ‘Top’ button that appears when you scroll down a long entry now appears to the right so it doesn’t interfere with the left-hand panel. The footer now only features the logos for Aberystwyth and AHRC and these appear on the right, with links to some pages on the left.
I have also updated the appearance of the ‘Try and Advanced Search’ button so it only appears on the ‘quick search’ results page (which is what should have happened originally). I also removed the semantic tags that were added from the XML but need to be edited out of the XML. I have also ticked a few more things off my ‘to do’ list, including replacing underscores with spaces in parts of speech and language tags and replacing ‘v.a.’ and ‘v.n’ as requested. I also updated the autocomplete styles (when you type into the quick search box) so they fit in with the site a bit better.
I then began looking into reordering the citations in the entries so they appear in date order within their senses, but I remembered that Geert wanted some dates to be batch processed and realised that this should be attempted first. I had a conversation with Geert about this, but the information he sent wasn’t well structured enough to be used and it looks like the batch updating of dates will need to wait until after the launch. Instead I moved on to updating the source text pop-ups in the entry. These feature links to the DEAF website and a link to search the AND entries for all others that feature the source.
On the old site the DEAF links linked through to another page on the old site that included the DEAF text and then linked through to the DEAF website. I figured it would be better to cut out this middle stage and link directly through to DEAF. This meant figuring out which DEAF page should be linked to and formatting the link so their page jumps to the right place. I also added in a note about the link under it.
This was pretty straightforward but the ‘AND Citations’ link was not. On the old site clicking on this link ran a search that displayed the citations. We had nothing comparable to this developed for the new site. So I needed to update the citation search to allow the user to search based on the sigla (source text). This in turn meant updating my citations table to add a field for holding the citation siglum and regenerating the citations and citation search words and then updating the API to allow a citation search to be limited by a siglum ID. I then updated the ‘Citations’ tab of the ‘Advanced Search’ page to add a new box for ‘citation siglum’. This is an autocomplete box – you type some text and a list of matching sigla are displayed, from which you can select one. This in turn meant updating the API to allow the sigla to be queried for this autocomplete. But for example type in ‘a-n’ into the box and a list of all sigla containing this are displayed. Select ‘A-N Falconry’ and you can then find all entries where this siglum appears. You can also combine this with citation text and date (although the latter won’t be much use).
I’ve also tweaked the search results tab on the entry page so that the up and down buttons don’t appear if you’re at the top or bottom of the results, and I’ve ensured if you’re looking at an entry towards the end of the results a sufficient number of results before the one you’re looking at appear. I’ve also ensured that the entry lemma and hom appear in the <title> of the web page (in the browser tab) so you can easily tell which tab contains which entry. Here’s a screenshot of the new interface:
For the DSL I spent some time answering emails about a variety of issues. I also completed my work on the issue of accents in the search, updating the search forms so that any accented characters that a user adds in are converted to their non-accented version before the search runs, ensuring someone searching for ‘Privacé’ will find all ‘privace’ in the full text. I also tweaked the wording of the search results to remove the ‘supplementary’ text from it as all supplementary items have now either been amalgamated or turned into main entries. I also put in redirects from all of the URLs for the deleted child entries to their corresponding main entries. This was rather time consuming to do as I needed to go through each deleted child entry, get each of its URLs, then get the main URL of the corresponding main entry, add these to a new database table and then add a new endpoint to the V4 API that accepts a child URL, then checks the database for any main URL and returns this. Then I needed to update the entry page so that the URL is passed to this new redirect checking API endpoint and if it matches a deleted item the page needs to redirect to the proper URL.
Also this week I had a conversation with Wendy Anderson about updates to the Mapping Metaphor website. I had thought these would just be some simple tweaks to the text of existing pages, but instead the site structure needs to be updated, which might prove to be tricky. I’m hoping to be able to find the time to do this next week.
Finally, I continued to work on the Burns Supper map, adding in the remaining filters. I also fixed a few dates, added in the introductory text and a ‘favicon’. I still need to work on the layout a bit, which I’ll hopefully do next week, but the bulk of the work for the map is now complete.
This was a four-day week for me as I had an optician’s appointment on Tuesday, and as my optician is over the other side of the city (handy for work, not so handy for working from home) I decided I’d just take the day off. I spent most of Monday working on the interactive map of Burns Suppers I’m developing with Paul Malgrati in Scottish Literature. This week I needed to update my interface to incorporate the large number of filters that Paul wants added to the map. In doing so I had to change the way the existing ‘period’ filter works to fit in with the new filter options, as previously the filter was being applied as soon as a period button was pressed. Now you need to press on the ‘apply filters’ button to see the results displayed, and this allows you to select multiple options without everything reloading as you work. There is also a ‘reset filters’ button which turns everything back on. Currently the ‘period’, ‘type of host’ and ‘toasts’ filters are in place, all as a series of checkboxes that allow you to combine any selections you want. Within a section (e.g. type of host) the selections are joined with an OR (e.g. ‘Burns Society’ OR ‘Church’). Between sections are joined with an AND (e.g. ‘2019-2020’ AND (‘Burns Society’ OR ‘Church’). For ‘toasts’ a location may have multiple toasts and the location will be returned if any of the selected toasts are associated with the location. E.g. if a location has ‘Address to a Haggis’ but not ‘Loyal Toast’ it will still be returned if you’ve selected both of these toasts. I also updated the introductory panel to make it much wider, so we can accommodate some text and also so there is more room for the filters. Even with this it is going to be a bit tricky to squeeze all of the filters in, but I’ll see what I can do next week.
I then turned my attention to the Dictionary of the Scots Language. Ann had noticed last week that the full text searches were ‘accent sensitive’ – i.e. entries containing accented characters would only be returned if your search term also contained the accented characters. This is not what we wanted and I spend a bit of time investigating how to make Solr ignore accents. Although I found a few articles dealing with this issue they were all for earlier versions of Solr and the process didn’t seem all that easy to set up, especially as I don’t have direct access to the sever that Solr resides on so tweaking settings is not an easy process. I decided instead to just strip out accents from the source data before it was ingested into Solr, which was a much more straightforward process and fitted in with another task I needed to tackle, which was to regenerate the DSL data from the old editing system, delete the duplicate child entries and set up a new version of the API to use this updated dataset. This process took a while to go through, but I go there in the end and we now have a new Solr collection set up for the new data, which has the accents and the duplicate child entries removed. I then updated one of our test front-ends to connect to this dataset so people can test it. However, whilst checking this I realised that stripped out the accents has introduced some unforeseen issues. The fulltext search is still ‘accent sensitive’, it’s just that I’ve replaced all accented characters with their non-accented equivalents. This means an accented search will no longer find anything. Therefore we’ll need to ensure that any accents in a submitted search string are also stripped out. In addition, stripping accents out of the Solr text also means that accents no longer appear in the snippets in the search results, meaning the snippets don’t fully reflect the actual content of the entries. This may be a larger issue and will need further discussion. I also wrote a little script to generate a list of entry IDs that feature an <su> inside a <cref> excluding those that feature </geo><su> or </geo> <su>. These entries will need to be manually updated to ensure the <su> tags don’t get displayed.
I spent the remainder of the week continuing with the redevelopment of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary site. My 51-item ‘to do’ list that I compiled last week has now shot up to 65 items, but thankfully during this week I managed to tick 20 of the items off. I have now imported all of the corrected data that the editors were working on, including not just the new ‘R’ records but corrections to other letters too. I also ensured that the earliest dates for entries now appear in the ‘search results’ and ‘log’ tabs in the left-hand panel, and these dates also appear in the fixed header that gets displayed when you scroll down long entries. I also added the date to the title in the main page.
I added content to the ‘cite this entry’ popup, which now contains the same citation options as found on the Historical Thesaurus site, and I added help text to the ‘browse’, ‘search results’ and ‘entry log’ pop-ups. I made the ‘clear search’ button right aligned and removed the part of speech tooltips as parts of speech appear all over the place and I thought it would confuse things if they had tooltips in the search results but not elsewhere. I also added a ‘Try an advanced search’ button at the top of the quick search results page.
I set up WordPress accounts for the editors and added the IP addresses used by the Aberystwyth VPN to our whitelist to ensure that the editors will be able to access the WordPress part of the site and I added redirects that will work from old site URLs once the new site goes live. I also put redirects in for all static pages that I could find too. We also now have the old site accessible via a subdomain so we should be able to continue to access the old site when we switch the main domain over to the new site.
I figured out why the entry for ‘ipocrite’ was appearing in all bold letters. This was caused by an empty XML tag and I updated the XSLT to ensure these don’t get displayed. I updated Variant/Deviant forms in the search results so they just have the title ‘Forms’ now and I think I’ve figured out why the sticky side panel wasn’t sticking and I think I’ve fixed it.
I updated my script that generates citation date text and regenerated all of the earliest date text to include the prefixes and suffixes and investigated the issue of commentary boxes was appearing multiple times. I checked all of the entries and there were about 5 that were like this, so I manually fixed them. I also ensured that when loading the advanced search after a quick search the ‘headword’ tab is now selected and the quick search text appears in the headword search box and I updated the label search so that label descriptions appear in a tooltip.
Also this week I participated in the weekly Iona Placenames Zoom call and made some tweaks to the content management systems for both Iona and Mull to added in researcher notes fields (English and Gaelic) to the place-name elements. I also had a chat with Wendy Anderson about making some tweaks to the Mapping Metaphor website for REF and spoke to Carole Hough about her old Cogtop site that is going to expire soon.
I spent two days each working on updates to the Dictionary of the Scots Language and the redevelopment of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary this week, with the remaining day spent on tasks for a few projects. For the DSL I fixed an issue with the way a selected item was being remembered from the search results. If you performed a search, then navigated to a page of results that wasn’t the first page then clicked on one of the results to view an entry this was setting a ‘current entry’ variable. This was used when loading the results from the ‘return to results’ button on the entry page to ensure that the page of the results that featured the entry you were looking at would be displayed. However, if you then clicked the ‘refine search’ button to return to the advanced search page this ‘current entry’ value would be retained, meaning that when you clicked the search button to perform a new search the results would load at whatever page the ‘current entry’ was located on, if it appeared in the new search results. As the ‘current entry’ would not necessarily be in the new results set the issue only cropped up every now and then. Thankfully having identified the issue it was easy to fix – whenever the search form loads as a result of a ‘refine search’ selection the ‘current entry’ variable is now cleared. It is still retained and used when you return to the search results from an entry page.
I also had a discussion with the editors about removing duplicate child entries from the data and grabbing an updated dataset from the old editing system one last time. Removing duplicate child entries will mean deleting several thousand entries and I was reluctant to do so on from the test systems we already have in case anything goes wrong, so I’ve decided to set up a new test version, which will be available via a new version of the API and will be accessible via one of the existing test front-ends I’ve created. I’ll be tackling this next week.
For the AND I focussed on importing more than 4,500 new or updated entries into the dictionary. In order to do this I needed to look at the new data and figure out how it differed structurally from the existing data, as previously the editors’ XML was passed through an online system that made changes to it before it was published on the old website. I discovered that there were five main differences:
- <main_entry> does not have an ID, or a ‘lead’ or a ‘unikey’. I’ll need to add in the ‘lead’ attribute as this is what controls that editor’s initials on the entry page and I decided to add in an ID as a means of uniquely identifying the XML, although there is already a new unique ID for each entry in the database. ‘unikey’ doesn’t seem to be used anywhere so I decided not to do anything about this.
- <sense> and <subsense> do not have IDs or ‘n’ numbers. The latter I already set up a script to generate so I could reuse that. The former aren’t used anywhere as each sense also has a <senseInfo> with another ID associated with it.
- <senseInfo> does not have IDs, ‘seq’ or ‘pos’. IDs here are important as they are used to identify senses / subsenses for the searches and I needed to develop a way of adding these in here. ‘seq’ does not appear to be used but ‘pos’ is. It’s used to generate the different part of speech sections between senses and in the ‘summary’ and this will need to be added in.
- <attestation> does not have IDs and these are needed as they are recorded in the translation data.
- <dateInfo> has an ID but the existing data from the DMS does not have IDs for <dateInfo>. I decided to retain these but they won’t be used anywhere.
I wrote a script that processed the XML to add in entry IDs, editor initials, sense numbers, senseInfo IDs, parts of speech and attestation IDs. This took a while to implement and test but it seemed to work successfully. After that I needed to work on a script that would import the data into my online system, which included regenerating all of the data used for search purposes, such as extracting cross references, forms, labels, citations and their dates, translations and earliest dates for entries. All seemed to work well and I made the new data available via the front-end for the editors to test out.
I also asked the editors about how to track different versions of data so we know which entries are new or updated as a result of the recent update. It turned out that there are six different statements that need to be displayed underneath entries depending on when the entries were published so I spent a bit of time applying these to entries and updating the entry page to display the notices.
After that I made a couple of tweaks to the new data (e.g. links to the MED were sometimes missing some information needed for the links to work) and discussed adding in commentaries with Geert. I then went through all of the emails to and from the editors in order to compile a big list of items that I still needed to tackle before we can launch the site. It’s a list that totals some 51 items, so I’m going to have my work cut out for me, especially as it is vital that the new site launches before Christmas.
The other projects I worked on this week included the interactive map of Burns Suppers for Paul Malgrati in Scottish Literature. Last week I’d managed to import the core fields from his gigantic spreadsheet and this week I made some corrections to the data and created the structure to hold the filters all of the filters that are in the data.
I wrote a script that goes through all of the records in the spreadsheet and stores the filters in the database when required. Note that a filter is only stored for a record when it’s not set to ‘NA’, which cuts down on the clutter. There are a total of 24,046 filters now stored in the system. The next stage will be to update the front-end to add in the options to select any combination of filter and to build the queries necessary to process the selection and return the relevant locations, which is something I aim to tackle next week.
Also this week I participated in the weekly Zoom call for the Iona place-names project and I updated the Iona CMS to strip out all of the non-Iona names and gave the team access to the project’s Content Management system. The project website also went live this week, although as of yet there is still not much content on it. It can be found here, though: https://iona-placenames.glasgow.ac.uk/
Also this week I helped to export some data for a member of the Berwickshire place-names project team, I responded to a query from Gerry McKeever about the St. Andrews data in the Books and Borrowing project’s database and I fixed an issue with Rob Maslen’s City of Lost Books site, which had somehow managed to lose its nice header font.
I took Friday off this week as I had a dentist’s appointment across town in the West End and I decided to take the opportunity to do some Christmas shopping whilst all the shops in Glasgow are still open (there’s some talk of us having greater Covid restrictions imposed in the next week or so). I spent a couple of days this week working on the Dictionary of the Scots Language, a project I’ve been meaning to return to for many months but have been too busy with other work to really focus on. Thankfully in November with the launch of the second edition of the Historical Thesaurus out of the way I have a bit of time to get back into the outstanding DSL issues.
Rhona Alcorn had sent a list of outstanding tasks a while back and I spent some time going through this and commenting on each item. I then began to work through each item, starting with fixing cross references in our ‘V3’ test site (which features data that the editors have been working on in recent years). Cross references appear differently in the XML for this version so I needed to update the XSLT in order to make them work correctly. I then updated the full-text extraction script that prepares data for inclusion in the Solr search engine. Previously this was stripping out all of the XML tags in order to leave the plain text, but unfortunately there were occasions where the entries contains words separated by tags but no spaces, meaning when the tags were removed the words ended up joined together. I fixed this by adding a space character before every XML tag before the tags were stripped out. This resulted in plain text that often contained multiple spaces between words, but thankfully Solr ignores these when it indexes the text. I asked Raymond of Arts IT Support to upload the new text to the server and tested things out and all worked perfectly.
After this I moved on to creating a new ordering for the ‘browse’ feature. This new ordering takes into consideration parts of speech and ensures that supplemental entries appear below main entries. It also correctly positions entries beginning with a yogh. I’d created a script to generate the new browse order many months ago, so I could just tweak this and then use it to update the database. After that I needed to make some updates to the V2 and V3 front-ends to use the new ordering fields, which took a little time, but it seems to have worked successfully. I may need to tweak the ordering further, but will await feedback before I make any changes.
I then moved on to investigating searches for accented characters, that were apparently not working correctly. I noticed that the htaccess script was not set up to accept accented characters so I updated this. However, the advanced headword search itself was finding forms with accented characters in them if the non-accented version was passed. The ‘privace’ example was redirecting to the entry page as only one result was matched, but if you perform a search for ‘*vace’ it finds and displays the accented headword in both V2 and V3 but not the live site. Therefore I think this issue is now sorted. However, we should perhaps strip out accents from any submitted search terms as allowing accented characters to be submitted (e.g. for *vacé) gives the impression that we allow accented characters to be searched for distinctly from their unaccented versions and the results including both accented and unaccented might confuse people.
The last DSL issue I looked at involved hiding superscript characters in certain circumstances (after ‘geo’ tags in ‘cref’ tags). There are 3093 SND entries that include the text ‘</geo><su>’ or ‘</geo> <su>’ and I updated the XSLT file that transforms the XML into HTML to deal with these. Previously it transformed the <su> tag into the HTML superscript tag <sup>. I’ve updated it so that it now checks to see what the tag’s preceding sibling is. If it’s a <geo> tag it now adds the class ‘noSup’ to the generated <sup>. Currently I’ve set <sup> elements with this class to have a pink background so the editors can check to see how the match is performing, and once they’re happy with it I can update the CSS to hide ‘noSup’ elements.
Other than DSL work I also spent some time continuing to work on the redevelopment of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary and completed an initial version of the label search that I began working on last week. The search form as discussed last week hasn’t changed, but it’s now possible to submit the search, navigate through the search results, return to the search form to make changes to your selection and view entries. I have needed to overhaul how the search page works to accommodate the label search, which required some pretty major changes behind the scenes, but hopefully none of the other searches will have been affected by this. You can select a single label and search for that, e.g. ‘archit.’ and if you then refine your search you will see that the label is ‘remembered’ in the form so you can add to it or remove it, for example if you’re interested in all of the entries that are labelled ‘archit.’ and ‘mil’. As mentioned last week, adding or changing a citation year resets the boxes as different labels are displayed depending on the years chosen. The chosen year is remembered by the form if you choose to refine your search and the labels and selected labels and Booleans are pulled in alongside the remembered year. So for example if you want to find entries that feature a sense labelled ‘agricultural’ or ‘bot.’ that have a citation between 1400 and 1410 you can do this. On the entry page both semantic and usage labels are now links that lead through to the search results for the label in question. I’ve currently given both label types a somewhat garish pink colour, but this can be changed, or we could use two different colours for the two types.
Other than these projects, I fixed an issue with the 18th century Glasgow borrowers site (https://18c-borrowing.glasgow.ac.uk/) and made some tweaks to the place-names of Iona site, fixing the banner and creating Gaelic versions of the pages and menu items. The site is not live yet, but I’m pretty happy with how it’s looking. Here’s an image of the banner I created:
Also this week I spoke to Kirsteen McCue about the project she’s currently preparing a proposal for and I created a new version of the Burns Suppers map for Paul Malgrati. This was rather tricky as his data is contained in a spreadsheet that has more than 2,500 rows and more than 90 columns, and it took some time to process this in a way that worked, especially as some fields contained carriage returns which resulted in lines being split where they shouldn’t be when the data was exported. However, I got there in the end, and next week I hope to develop the filters for the data.