Week Beginning 5th October 2020

This was a four-day week for me as I’d taken Friday off as it was an in-service day at my son’s school before next week’s half-term, which I’ve also taken off.  I had rather a lot to try and get done before my holiday so it was a pretty intense week, split mostly between the Historical Thesaurus and the Anglo-Norman Dictionary.

For the Historical Thesaurus I continued with the preparations for the second edition, starting off by creating a little statistics page that lists all of the words and categories that have been updated for the second edition and the changelog code that have been applied to them.  Marc had sent a list of all of the category number sequences that we have updated so I then spent a bit of time updating the database to apply the changelog codes to all of these categories.  It turns out that almost 200,000 categories have been revised and relocated (out of about 235,000) so it’s pretty much everything.  At our meeting last week we had proposed updating the ‘new OED words’ script I’d written last week to separate out some potential candidates into an eighth spreadsheet (these are words that have a slash in them, which now get split up on the slash and each part is compared against the HT’s search words table to see whether they already exist).  Whilst working through some of the other tasks I realised that I hadn’t included the unique identifiers for OED lexemes in the output, which was going to make it a bit difficult to work with the files programmatically, especially since there are some occasions where the OED has two identical lexemes in a category.  I therefore updated my script and regenerated the output to include the lexeme ID making it possible to differentiate identical lexemes and also making it easier to grab dates for the lexeme in question.

The issue of there being multiple identical lexemes in an OED category was a strange one.  For example, one category had two ‘Amber pudding’ lexemes.  I wrote a script that extracted all of these duplicates and there are possibly a hundred or so of them, and also other OED lexemes that appear to have no associated dates.  I passed these over to Marc and Fraser for them to have a look at.  After that I worked on a script to go through each of the almost 12,000 lexemes that we have identified as OED lexemes that are definitely not present in the HT data, extract their OED dates and then format these as HT dates.

The script generates date entries as they would be added to the HT lexeme dates table (used for timelines), the HT fulldate field (used for display) and the HT firstdate and lastdate fields (used for searching).  Dates earlier than 1150 are stored as their actual values in the dates table, but are stored at ‘650’ in the ‘firstdate’ field and are displayed as ‘OE’ in the ‘fulldate.  Dates after 1945 are stored as ‘9999’ in both the dates table and the ‘lastdate’ field.  Where there is a ‘yearend’ in the OED date (i.e. the date is a range) this is stored as the ‘year_b’ in the HT date and appears after a slash in the ‘fulldate’, following the rules for slashes.  If the date is the last date then the ‘year_b’ is used as the HT lastdate.  If the ‘year_b’ is after 1945 but the ‘year’ isn’t then ‘9999’ is used.  So for example ‘maiden-skate’ has a last date of ‘1880/1884’, which appears in the ‘fulldate’ as ‘1880/4’ and the ‘lastdate’ is ‘1884’.  Where there is a gap of more than 150 years between dates the connector between dates is a dash and where the gap is less then this it is a plus.  One thing that needed further work was how we handle multiple post 1945 dates.  In my initial script if there are multiple post 1945 dates then only one of these is carried over as an HT date, and it’s set to ‘9999’.  The is because all post-1945 dates are stored as ‘9999’ and having several of these didn’t seem to make sense and confused the generation of the fulldate.  There was also an issue with some OED lexemes only having dates after 1945.  In my first version of the script these ended up with only one HT date entry of 9999 and 9999 as both firstdate and lastdate, and a fulldate consisting of just a dash, which was not right.  After further discussion with Marc I updated the script so that in such cases the date information that is carried over is the first date (even if it’s after 1945) and a dash to show that it is current.  For example, ‘ecoregion’ previously had a ‘full date’ of ‘-‘, one HT date of ‘9999’ and a start date of ‘9999’ and in the updated output has a full date of ‘1962-‘, two HT dates and a start date of 1962.  Where a lexeme has a single date this also now has a specific end date rather than it being ‘9999’.  I passed the output of the script over the Marc and Fraser for them to work with whilst I was on holiday.

For the Anglo-Norman Dictionary I continued to work on the entry page.  I added in the cognate references (i.e. references to other dictionaries), which proved to be rather tricky due to the way they have been structured in the Editors’ XML files (in the current live site the cognate references are stored in a separate hash file and are somehow injected into the entry page when it is generated, but we wanted to rationalise this so that the data that appears on the site is all contained in the Editors’ XML where possible).  The main issue was with how the links to other online dictionaries were stored, as it was not entirely clear how to generate actual links to specific pages in these resources from them.  This was especially true for links to FEW (I have no idea what FEW stands for as the acronym doesn’t appear to be expanded anywhere, even on the FEW website).

They appear in the Editors’ XML like this:

<FEW_refs siglum=”FEW” linkable=”yes”><link_form>A</link_form><link_loc>24,1a</link_loc></FEW_refs>

Which ends up linking to here:

https://apps.atilf.fr/lecteurFEW/lire/volume/240/page/1

And this:

<FEW_refs siglum=”FEW” linkable=”yes”> <link_form>posse</link_form><link_loc>9,231b</link_loc> </FEW_refs>

Which ends up linking to here:

https://apps.atilf.fr/lecteurFEW/lire/volume/90/page/231

Based on this my script for generating links needed to:

  1. Store the base URL https://apps.atilf.fr/lecteurFEW/lire/volume
  2. Split the <link_loc> on the comma
  3. multiply the part before the comma by 10 (so 24 becomes 240, 9 becomes 90 etc)
  4. strip out any non-numeric character from the part after the comma (i.e. getting rid of ‘a’ and ‘b’)
  5. generate the full URL, such as https://apps.atilf.fr/lecteurFEW/lire/volume/240/page/1 using these two values.

After discussion with Heather and Geert at the AND it turned out to be even more complicated than this, as some of the references are further split into subvolumes using a slash and a Roman numeral, so we have things like ‘15/i,108b’ which then needs to link to https://apps.atilf.fr/lecteurFEW/lire/volume/151/page/108.  It took some time to write a script that could cope with all of these quirks, but I got there in the end.

Also this week I updated the citation dates so they now display their full information with ‘MS:’ where required and superscript text.  I then finished work on the commentaries, adding in all of the required formatting (bold, italic, superscript etc) and links to other AND entries and out to other dictionaries.  Where the commentaries are longer than a few lines they are cut off and an ‘expand’ button is shown.  I also updated the ‘Results’ tab so it shows you the number of results in the tab header and have added in the ‘entry log’ feature that tracks which entries you have looked at in a session.  The number of these also appears in the tab header and I’m personally finding it a very useful feature as I navigate around the entries for test purposes.  The log entries appear in the order you opened them and there is no scrolling of entries as I would imagine most people are unlikely to have more than 20 or so listed.  You can always clear the log by pressing on the ‘Clear’ button.  I also updated the entry page so that the cross references in the ‘browse’ now work.  If the entry has a single cross reference then this is automatically displayed when you click on its headword in the ‘browse’, with a note at the top of the page stating it’s a cross reference.  If the entry has multiple cross references these are not all displayed but instead links to each entry are displayed.  There are two reasons for this:  Firstly, displaying multiple entries can result in long and complicated pages that may be hard to navigate; secondly, the entry page as it currently stands was designed to display one entry, and uses HTML IDs to identify certain elements.  An HTML ID must be unique on a page so if multiple entries were displayed things would break.  There is still a lot of work to do on the site, but the entry page is at least nearing completion.  Below is a screenshot showing the entry log, the cognate references and the commentary complete with formatting and the ‘Expand’ option:

I did also work on some other projects this week as well.  For Books and Borrowing I set up a user account for a volunteer and talked her through getting access to the system.  For the Mull / Ulva site I automatically generated historical forms for all of the place-names that had come from the GB1900 crowdsourced data.  These are now associated with the ‘OS 6 inch 2nd edn’ source and about 1670 names have been updated, although many of these are abbreviations like ‘F.P.’.  I also updated the database and the CMS to incorporate a new field for deciding which ‘front-end’ the place-name will be displayed on.  This is a drop-down list that can be selected when adding or editing a place-name, allowing you to choose from ‘Both’, ‘Mull / Ulva only’ and ‘Iona only’.  There is still a further option for stating whether the place-name appears on the website or not (‘on website: Y/N’) so it will be possible to state that a place-name is associated with one project but shouldn’t appear on that project’s website.  I also updated the search option on the ‘Browse placenames’ page to allow a user to limit the displayed placenames to those that have ‘front-end display’ set to one of the options.  Currently all place-names are set to ‘Mull / Ulva only’.  With this all in place I then created user accounts for the CMS for all of the members of the Iona project team who will be using this CMS to work with the data.  I also made a few further tweaks to the search results page of the DSL.  After all of this I was very glad to get away for a holiday.

 

 

Week Beginning 28th September 2020

I was off on Monday this week for the September Weekend holiday.  My four working days were split across many different projects, but the main ones were the Historical Thesaurus and the Anglo-Norman Dictionary.

For the HT I continued with the preparations for the second edition.  I updated the front-end so that multiple changelog items are now checked for and displayed (these are the little tooltips that say whether a lexeme’s dates have been updated in the second edition).  Previously only one changelog was being displayed but this approach wasn’t sufficient as a lexeme may have a changed start and end date.  I also fixed a bug in the assigning of the ‘end date verified as after 1945’ code, which was being applied to some lexemes with much earlier end dates.  My script set the type to 3 in all cases where the last HT date was 9999.  What it needed to do was to only set it to type 3 if the last HT date was 9999 and the last OED date was after 1945.  I wrote a little script to fix this, which affected about 7,400 lexemes.

I also wrote a script to check off a bunch of HT and OED categories that had been manually matched by an RA.  I needed to make a few tweaks to the script after testing it out, but after running it on the data we had a further 846 categories matched up, which is great.  Fraser had previously worked on a document listing a set of criteria for working out whether an OED lexeme was ‘new’ or not (i.e. unlinked to an HT lexeme).  This was a pretty complicated document with many different stages, and the output of the various stages needing to be outputted into seven different spreadsheets and it took quite a long time to write and test a script that would handle all of these stages.  However, I managed to complete work on it and after a while it finished executing and resulted in the 7 CSV files, one for each code mentioned in the document.  I was very glad that I had my new PC as I’m not sure my old one could have coped with it – for the Levenshtein tests data every word in the HT had to be stored in memory throughout the script’s execution, for example.  On Friday I had a meeting with Marc and Fraser where we discussed the progress we’d been making and further tweaks to the script were proposed that I’ll need to implement next week.

For the Anglo-Norman Dictionary I continued to work on the ‘Entry’ page, implementing a mixture of major features and minor tweaks.  I updated the way the editor’s initials were being displayed as previously these were the initials of the editor who made the most recent update in the changelog where what was needed were the initials of the person who created the record, contained in the ‘lead’ attribute of the main entry.  I also attempted to fix an issue with references in the entry that were set to ‘YBB’.  Unlike other references, these were not in the data I had as they were handled differently.  I thought I’d managed to fix this, but it looks like ‘YBB’ is used to refer to many different sources so can’t be trusted to be a unique identifier.  This is going to need further work.

Minor tweaks included changing the font colour of labels, making the ‘See Also’ header bigger and clearer, removing the final semi-colon from lists of items, adding in line breaks between parts of speech in the summary and other such things.  I then spent quite a while integrating the commentaries.  These were another thing that weren’t properly integrated with the entries but were added in as some sort of hack.  I decided it would be better to have them as part of the editors’ XML rather than attempting to inject them into the entries when they were requested for display.  I managed to find the commentaries in another hash file and thankfully managed to extract the XML from this using the Python script I’d previously written for the main entry hash file.  I then wrote a script that identified which entry the commentary referred to, retrieved the entry and then inserted the commentary XML into the middle of it (underneath the closing </head> element.

It took somewhat longer than I expected to integrate the data as some of the commentaries contained Greek, and the underlying database was not set up to handle multi-byte UTF-8 characters (which Greek are), meaning these commentaries could not be added to the database.  I needed to change the structure of the database and re-import all of the data as simply changing the character encoding of the columns gave errors.  I managed to complete this process and import the commentaries and then begin the process of making them appear in the front-end.  I still haven’t completely finished this (no formatting or links in the commentaries are working yet) and I’ll need to continue with this next week.

Also this week I added numbers to the senses.  This also involved updating the editor’s XML to add a new ‘n’ attribute to the <sense> tag, e.g. <sense id=”AND-201-47B626E6-486659E6-805E33CE-A914EB1F-S001″ n=”1″>.  As with the current site, the senses reset to 1 when a new part of speech begins.  I also ensured that [sic] now appears, as does the language tag, with a question mark if the ‘cert’ attribute is present and not 100.  Uncertain parts of speech are also now visible too (again if ‘cert’ is present and not 100), I increased the font size of the variant forms and citation dates are now visible.  There is still a huge amount of work to do, but progress is definitely being made.

Also this week I reviewed the transcriptions from a private library that we are hoping to incorporate into the Books and Borrowing project and tweaked the way ‘additional fields’ are stored to enable the Ras to enter HTML characters into them.  I also created a spreadsheet template for a recording the correspondence of Robert Burns for Craig Lamont and spoke to Eila Williamson about the design of the new Names Studies website.  I updated the text on the homepage of this site, which Lorna Hughes sent me and gave some advice to Luis Gomes about a data management plan he is preparing.  I also updated the working on the search results page for ‘V3’ of the DSL to bring it into line with ‘V2’ and participated in a Zoom call for the Iona project where we discussed the new website and images that might be used in the design.

Week Beginning 21st September 2020

I’d taken Thursday and Friday off this week as it was the Glasgow September Weekend holiday, meaning this was a three-day week for.  It was a week where focussing on any development tasks was rather tricky as I had four Zoom calls and a dentist’s appointment on the other side of the city during my three working days.

On Monday I had a call with the Historical Thesaurus people to discuss the ongoing task of integrating content from the OED for the second edition.  There’s still rather a lot to be done for this, and we’re needing to get it all complete during October, so things are a little stressful.  After the meeting I made some further updates to the display of icons signifying a second edition update.  I updated the database and front-end to allow categories / subcats to have a changelog (in addition to words).  These appear in a transparent circle with a white border and a white number, right aligned.  I also updated the display of the icon for words.  These also appear as a transparent circle, right aligned, but have the teal colour for a border and the number.  I also realised I hadn’t added in the icons for words in subcats, so put these in place too.

After that I set about updated the dates of HT lexemes based on some rules that Fraser had developed.  I created and ran scripts that updated the start dates of 91,364 lexemes based on OED dates and then ran a further scrip that updated the end dates of 157,156 lexemes.  These took quite a while to run (the latter I was dealing with during my time off) but it’s good that progress is being made.

My second Zoom call of the week was for the Books and Borrowing project, and was with the project PI and Co-I and someone who is transcribing library records from a private library that we’re now intending to incorporate into the project’s system.  We discussed the data and the library and made a plan for how we’re going to work with the data in future.  My third and fourth Zoom call were for the new Place-names of Iona project that is just starting up.  It was a good opportunity to meet the rest of the project team (other than the RA who has yet to be appointed) and discuss how and when tasks will be completed.  We’ve decided that we’ll use the same content management system as the one I already set up for the Mull and Ulva project, as this already includes Iona data from the GB1900 project.  I’ll need to update the system so that we can differentiate place-names that should only appear on the Iona front-end, the Mull and Ulva front-end or both.  This is because for Iona we are going to be going into much more detail, down to individual monuments and other ‘microtoponyms’ whereas the names in the Mull and Ulva project are much more high level.

For the rest of my available time this week I made some further updates to the script I wrote last week for Fraser’s Scots Thesaurus project, ordering the results by part of speech and ensuring that hyphenated words are properly searched for (as opposed to being split into separate words joined by an ‘or’).  I also spent some time working for the DSL people, firstly updating the text on the search results page and secondly tracking down the certificate for the Android version of the School Dictionary app.  This was located on my PC at work, so I had arranged to get access to my office whilst I was already in the West End for my dentist’s appointment.  Unfortunately what I thought was the right file turned out to be the certificate for an earlier version of the app, meaning I had to travel all the way back to my office again later in the week (when I was on holiday) to find the correct file.

I also managed to find a little time to continue to work on the new Anglo-Norman Dictionary site, continuing to work on the display of the ‘entry’ page.  I updated my XSLT to ensure that ‘parglosses’ are visible and that cross reference links now appear.  Explanatory labels are also now in place.  These currently appear with a grey background but eventually these will be links to the label search results page.  Semantic labels are also now in place and also currently have a grey background but will be links through to search results.  However,  the System XML notes whether certain semantic labels should be shown or not.  So, for example <label type=”sem” show=”no”>med.</label> doesn’t get shown.  Unfortunately there is nothing comparable in the Editors’ XML (it’s just <semantic value=”med.”/>) so I can’t hide such labels.  Finally, the initials of the editor who made the last update now appear in square brackets to the right of the end of the entry.

Also, my new PC was delivered on Thursday and I spent a lot of time over the weekend transferring all of my data and programs across from my old PC.

Week Beginning 7th September 2020

This was a pretty busy week, involving lots of different projects.  I set up the systems for a new place-name project focusing on Ayrshire this week, based on the system that I initially developed for the Berwickshire project and has subsequently been used for Kirkcudbrightshire and Mull.  It didn’t take too long to port the system over, but the PI also wanted the system to be populated with data from the GB1900 crowdsourcing project.  This project has transcribed every place-name on the GB1900 Ordnance Survey maps across the whole of the UK and is an amazing collection of data totalling some 2.5 million names.  I had previously extracted a subset of names for the Mull and Ulva project so thankfully had all of the scripts needed to get the information for Ayrshire.  Unfortunately what I didn’t have was the data in a database, as I’d previously extracted it to my PC at work.  This meant that I had to run the extraction script again on my home PC, which took about three days to work through all of the rows in the monstrous CSV file.  Once this was complete I could then extract the names found in the Ayrshire parishes that the project will be dealing with, resulting in almost 4,000 place-names.  However, this wasn’t the end of the process as while the extracted place-names had latitude and longitude they didn’t have grid references or altitude.  My place-names system is set up to automatically generate these values and I could customise the scripts to automatically apply the generated data to each of the 4000 places.  Generating the grid reference was pretty straightforward but grabbing the altitude was less so, as it involved submitting a query to Google Maps and then inserting the returned value into my system using an AJAX call.  I ran into difficulties with my script exceeding the allowed number of Google Map queries and also the maximum number of page requests on our server, resulting in my PC getting blocked by the server and a ‘Forbidden’ error being displayed instead, but with some tweaking I managed to get everything working within the allowed limits.

I also continued to work on the Second Edition of the Historical Thesaurus.  I set up a new version of the website that we will work on for the Second Edition, and created new versions of the database tables that this new site connects to.  I also spent some time thinking about how we will implement some kind of changelog or ‘history’ feature to track changes to the lexemes, their dates and corresponding categories.  I had a Zoom call with Marc and Fraser on Wednesday to discuss the developments and we realised that the date matching spreadsheets I’d generated last week could do with some additional columns from the OED data, namely links through to the entries on the OED website and also a note to say whether the definition contains ‘(a)’ or ‘(also’ as these would suggest the entry has multiple senses that may need a closer analysis of the dates.

I then started to update the new front-end to use the new date structure that we will use for the Second Edition (with dates stored in a separate date table rather than split across almost 20 different date fields in the lexeme table).  I updated the timeline visualisations (mini and full) to use this new date table, and although this took quite some time to get my head around the resulting code is MUCH less complicated than the horrible code I had to write to deal with the old 20-odd date columns.  For example, the code to generate the data for the mini timelines is about 70 lines long now as opposed to over 400 previously.

The timelines use the new data tables in the category browse and the search results.  I also spotted some dates weren’t working properly with the old system but are working properly now.  I then updated the ‘label’ autocomplete in the advanced search to use the labels in the new date table.  What I still need to do is update the search to actually search for the new labels and also to search the new date tables for both ‘simple’ and ‘complex’ year searches.  This might be a little tricky, and I will continue on this next week.

Also this week I gave Gerry McKeever some advice about preserving the data of his Regional Romanticism project, spoke to the DSL people about the wording of the search results page, gave feedback on and wrote some sections for Matthew Creasy’s Chancellor’s Fund proposal, gave feedback to Craig Lamont regarding the structure of a spreadsheet for holding data about the correspondence of Robert Burns and gave some advice to Rob Maslen about the stats for his ‘City of Lost Books’ blog.  I also made a couple of tweaks to the content management system for the Books and Borrowers project based on feedback from the team.

I spent the remainder of the week working on the redevelopment of the Anglo-Norman dictionary.  I updated the search results page to style the parts of speech to make it clearer where one ends and the next begins.  I also reworked the ‘forms’ section to add in a cut-off point for entries that have a huge number of forms.  In such cases the long list of cut off and an ellipsis is added in, together with an ‘expand’ button.  Pressing on this scrolls down the full list of forms and the button is replaced with a ‘collapse’ button.  I also updated the search so that it no longer includes cross references (these are to be used for the ‘Browse’ list only) and the quick search now defaults to an exact match search whether you select an item from the auto-complete or not.  Previously it performed an exact match if you selected an item but defaulted to a partial match if you didn’t.  Now if you search for ‘mes’ (for example) and press enter or the search button your results are for “mes” (exactly).  I suspect most people will select ‘mes’ from the list of options, which already did this, though.  It is also still possible to use the question mark wildcard with an ‘exact’ search, e.g. “m?s” will find 14 entries that have three letter forms beginning with ‘m’ and ending in ‘s’.

I also updated the display of the parts of speech so that they are in order of appearance in the XML rather than alphabetically and I’ve updated the ‘v.a.’ and ‘v.n.’ labels as the editor requested.  I also updated the ‘entry’ page to make the ‘results’ tab load by default when reaching an entry from the search results page or when choosing a different entry in the search results tab.  In addition, the search result navigation buttons no longer appear in the search tab if all the results fit on the page and the ‘clear search’ button now works properly.  Also, on the search results page the pagination options now only appear if there is more than one page of results.

On Friday I began to process the entry XML for display on the entry page, which was pretty slow going, wading through the XSLT file that is used to transform the XML to HTML for display.  Unfortunately I can’t just use the existing XSLT file from the old site because we’re using the editor’s version of the XML and not the system version, and the two are structurally very different in places.

So far I’ve been dealing with forms and have managed to get the forms listed, with grammatical labels displayed where available and commas separating forms and semi-colons separating groups of forms.  Deviant forms are surrounded by brackets.  Where there are lots of forms the area is cut off as with the search results.  I still need to add in references where these appear, which is what I’ll tackle next week.  Hopefully now I’ve started to get my head around the XML a bit progress with the rest of the page will be a little speedier, but there will undoubtedly be many more complexities that will need to be dealt with.

Week Beginning 24th August 2020

I needed a further two trips to the dentist this week, which lost me some time due to my dentist being the other side of the city from where I live (but very handy for my office at work that I’m not currently allowed to use).  Despite these interruptions I managed to get a decent amount done this week.  For the Books and Borrowing project I processed the images of a register from Westerkirk library.  For this register I needed to stitch together the images of the left and right pages to make a single image, as each spread features a table that covers both pages.  As we didn’t want to have to manually join hundreds of images I wrote a script that did this, leaving a margin between the two images as they don’t line up perfectly.  I used the command-line tool Imagemagick to achieve this – firstly adding the margin to the left-hand image and secondly joining this to the right-hand image.  I then needed to generate tilesets of the images using Zoomify, but when I came to do so the converter processed the images the wrong way round – treating them as portrait rather than landscape and resulting in tilesets that were all wrong.  I realised that when joining the page images together the image metadata hadn’t been updated:  two portrait images were joined together to make one landscape image, but the metadata still suggested that the image was portrait, which confused the Zoomify converter.  I therefore had to run the images through Imagemagick again to strip out all of the metadata and then rotate the images 90 degrees clockwise, which resulted in a set of images I could then upload to the server.

Also this week I made some further tweaks to Matthew Sangster’s pilot project featuring the Glasgow Student data, which we will be able to go live with soon.  This involved adding in a couple of missing page images, fixing some encoding issues with Greek characters in a few book titles, fixing a bug that was preventing the links to pages from the frequency lists working, ensuring any rows that are to be omitted from searches were actually being omitted and adding in tooltips for the table column headers to describe what the columns mean.

I also made some progress with the redevelopment of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary.  I had a Zoom meeting with the editors on Wednesday, which went very well, and resulted in me making some changes to the system documentation I had previously written.  I also worked on an initial structure for the new dictionary website, setting up WordPress for the ancillary pages and figuring out how to create a WordPress theme that is based on Bootstrap.  This was something I hadn’t done before and it was a good learning experience.  It mostly went pretty smoothly, but getting a WordPress menu to use Bootstrap’s layout was a little tricky.  Thankfully someone has already solved the issue and has made the code available to use (see https://github.com/wp-bootstrap/wp-bootstrap-navwalker) so I could just integrate this with my theme.

I completed work on the theme and generated placeholder pages and menu items for all the various parts of the site.  The page design is just my temporary page design for now, looking very similar to the Books and Borrowing CMS design, but this will be replaced with something more suitable in time.  With this in place I regenerated the XML data from the existing CMS based on the final ‘entry_hash’ data I had.  This was even more successful than my first attempt with an earlier version of the data last week and resulted in all but 35 of the 54,025 dictionary entries being generated.  This XML has the same structure as the files being used by the editors, so we will now be able to standardise on this structure.

With the new data imported I then started work on an API for the site.  This will process all requests for data and will then return the data in either JSON or CSV format (with the front-end using JSON).  I created the endpoints necessary to make the ‘browse’ panel work – returning a section of the dictionary as headwords and links either based on entry ‘slugs’ (the URL-safe versions of headwords) or headword text, depending on whether the ‘browse up/down’ option or the ‘jump to’ option is chosen.  I also created an endpoint for displaying an entry, which returns all of the data for an entry including its full XML record.

I then began work on the ‘entry’ page in the front-end, focussing initially on the ‘browse’ feature.  By the end of the week this was fully operational, allowing the user to scroll up and down the list, select an item to load it or enter text into the ‘jump to’ box.  There’s also a pop-up where info about how to use the browse can be added.  The ‘jump to’ still needs some work as if you type fast into it it sometimes gets confused as to what content to show.  I haven’t done anything about displaying the entry yet, other than displaying the headword.  Currently the full versions of both the editor’s and the existing system XML are displayed.  Below is a screenshot of how things currently look:

My last task of the week for the AND was to write a script to extract all of the headwords, variants and deviants from the entries to enable the quick search to work.  I set the script running and by the time it had finished executing there were more than 150,000 entries in the ‘forms’ table I’d created.

Also this week I helped Rob Maslen to migrate his ‘City of Lost Books’ blog to a new URL, had a chat with the DSL people about updates to the search results page based on the work I did last week and had a chat with Thomas Clancy about three upcoming place-names projects.

I also returned to the Historical Thesaurus project and our ongoing attempts to extract dates from the Oxford English Dictionary in order to update the dates of attestation in the Historical Thesaurus.  Firstly, I noticed that there were some issues with end dates for ranged dates before 1000 and I’ve fixed these (there were about 50 or so).  Secondly, I noticed there are about 20 dates that don’t have a ‘year’ as presumably the ‘year’ attribute in the XML was empty.  Some of these I can fix (and I have), but others also have an empty ‘fullyear’ too, meaning the date tag was presumably empty in the XML and I therefore deleted these.

We still needed to figure out how to handle OED dates that have a dot in them.  These are sometimes used (well, used about 4,000 times) to show roughly where a date comes so that it is placed correctly in the sequence of dates (e.g. ’14..’ is given the year ‘1400’).  But sometimes a date has a dot and a specific year (e.g. ’14..’ but ‘1436’).  We figured out that this is to ensure the correct ordering of the date after an earlier specific date.  Fraser therefore wanted these dates to be ‘ante’ the next known date.  I therefore wrote a script that finds all lexemes that have at least one date that has a dot and a specific year, then for each of these lexemes it gets all of the dates in order.  Each date is displayed, with the ‘fullyear’ displayed first and the ‘year’ in brackets.  If the date is a ‘.’ date then it is highlighted in yellow.  For each of these the script then tries to find the next date in sequence that isn’t another ‘.’ date (as sometimes there are several).  If it finds one then the date becomes this row’s ‘year’ plus ‘a’.  If it doesn’t find one (e.g. if the ‘.’ date is the last date for the lexeme) then it retains the year from the ‘.’ date but with ‘a’ added.  Next week I will run this script to actually update the data and we will then move on to using the new OED data with the HT’s lexemes.

Week Beginning 17th August 2020

I lost most of Tuesday this week to root canal surgery, which was uncomfortable and exhausting but thankfully not too painful.  Unfortunately my teeth are still not right and I now have a further appointment booked for next week, but at least the severe toothache that I had previously has now stopped.

I continued to work on the requirements document for the redevelopment of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary this week, and managed to send a first completed version of it to Heather Pagan for feedback.  It will no doubt need some further work, but it’s good to have a clearer picture of how the new version of the website will function.  Also this week I investigated another bizarre situation with the AND’s data.  I have access to the full dataset as is used to power the existing website as a single XML file containing all of the entries.  The Editors are also working on individual entries as single XML files that are then uploaded to the existing website using a content management system.  What we didn’t realise up until now is that the structure of the XML files is transformed when an entry is ingested into the online system.  For example, the ‘language’ tag is changed from <language lang=”M.E.”/> to <lbl type=”lang”>M.E.</lbl>.  Similarly, part of speech has been transformed from <pos type=”s.”/> to <gramGrp><pos>s.</pos></gramGrp>.  We have no idea why the developer of the system chose to do this, as it seems completely unnecessary and it’s a process that doesn’t appear to be documented anywhere.  The crazy thing is that the transformed XML still then needs to be further transformed to HTML for display so what appears on screen is two steps removed from the data the editors work with.  It also means that I don’t have access to the data in the form that the editors are working with, meaning I can’t just take their edits and use them in the new site.

As we ideally want to avoid the situation where we have two structurally different XML datasets for the dictionary I wanted to try and find a way to transform the data I have into the structure used by the editors.  I attempted to do this by looking at the code for the existing content management system to try to decipher where the XML is getting transformed.  There is an option for extracting an entry from the online system for offline editing and this transforms the XML into the format used by the editors.  I figured that if I can understand how this process works and replicate it then I will be able to apply this to the full XML dictionary file and then I will have the complete dataset in the same format as the editors are working with and we can just use this in the redevelopment.

It was not easy to figure out what the system is up to, but I managed to ascertain that when you enter a headword for export this then triggers a Perl script and this in turn uses an XSLT stylesheet, which I managed to track down a version of that appears to have been last updated in 2014.  I then wrote a little script that takes the XML of the entry for ‘padlock’ as found in online data and applies this stylesheet to it, in the hope that it would give me an XML file identical to the one exported by the CMS.

The script successfully executed, but the resulting XML was not quite identical to the file exported by the CMS.  There was no ‘doctype’ and DTD reference, the ‘attestation’ ID was the entry ID with an auto-incrementing ‘C’ number appended to it (AND-201-02592CE7-42F65840-3D2007C6-27706E3A-C001) rather than the ID of the <cit> element (C-11c4b015), and <dateInfo> was not processed, and only the contents of the tags within <dateInfo> were being displayed.

I’m not sure why these differences exist.  It’s possible I only have access to an older version of the XSLT file.  I’m guessing this must be the case because the missing or differently formatted data is does not appear to be instated elsewhere (e.g. in the Perl script).  What I then did was to modify the XSLT file to ensure that the changes are applied: doctype is added in, the ‘attestation’ ID is correct and the <dateInfo> section contains the full data.

I could try applying this script to every entry in the full data file I have, although I suspect there will be other situations that the XSLT file I have is not set up to successfully process.

I therefore tried to investigate another alternative, which was to write a script that will pass the headword of every dictionary item to the ‘Retrieve an entry for editing’ script in the CMS, saving the results of each.  I considered that might be more likely to work reliably for every entry, but that we may run into issues with the server refusing so many requests.  After a few test runs, I set the script loose on all 53,000 or so entries in the system and although it took several hours to run, the process did appear to work for the most part.  I now have the data in the same structure as the editors work with, which should mean we can standardise on this format and abandon the XML structure used by the existing online system.

Also this week I fixed an issue with links through to the Bosworth and Toller Old English dictionary from the Thesaurus of Old English.  Their site has been redeveloped and they’ve changed the way their URLs work without putting redirects from the old URLs, meaning all our links for words in the TOE to words on their site are broken.  URLs for their entries now just use a unique ID rather than the word (e.g. http://bosworthtoller.com/28286), which seems like a bit of a step backwards.  They’ve also got rid of length marks and are using acute accents on characters instead, which is a bit strange.  The change to an ID in the URL means we can no longer link to a specific entry as we can’t possibly know what IDs they’re using for each word.  However, we can link to their search results page instead, e.g. http://bosworthtoller.com/search?q=sōfte works and I updated TOE to use such links.

I also continued with the processing of OED dates for use in the Historical Thesaurus, after my date extraction script finished executing over the weekend.  This week I investigated OED dates that have a dot in them instead of a full date.  There are 4,498 such dates and these mostly all have the lower date as the one recorded in the ‘year’ attribute by the OED.  E.g. 138. Is 1380, 17.. is 1700.  However, sometimes a specific date is given in the ‘year’ attribute despite the presence of a full stop in the date tag.  For example, one entry has ‘1421’ in the ‘year’ attribute but ’14..’ in the date tag.  There are just over a thousand dates where there are two dots but the ‘year’ given does not end in ‘00’.  Fraser reckons this is to do with ordering the dates in the OED and I’ll need to do some further work on this next week.

In addition to the above I continued to work on the Books and Borrowing project.  I made some tweaks to the CMS to make is easier to edit records.  When a borrowing record is edited the page automatically scrolls down to the record that was edited.  This also happens for books and borrowers when accessed and edited from the ‘Books’ and ‘Borrowers’ tabs in a library.  I also wrote an initial script that will help to merge some of the duplicate author records we have in the system due to existing data with different formats being uploaded from different libraries.  What it does is strip all of the non-alpha characters from the forename and surname fields, makes them lower case then joins them together.  So for example, author ID (AID) 111 has ‘Arthur’ as forename and ‘Bedford’ as surname while AID 1896 has nothing for forename and ‘Bedford, Arthur, 1668-1745’ as surname.  When stripped and joined together these both become ‘bedfordarthur’ and we have a match.

There are 162 matches that have been identified, some consisting of more than two matched author records.  I exported these as a spreadsheet.  Each row includes the author’s AID, title, forename, surname, othername, born and died (each containing ‘c’ where given), a count of the number of books the record is associated with and the AID of the record that is set to be retained for the match.  This defaults to the first record, which also appears in bold, to make it easier to see where a new batch of duplicates begins.

The editors can then go through this spreadsheet and reassign the ‘AID to keep’ field to a different row.  E.g. for Francis Bacon the AID to keep is given as 1460.  If the second record for Francis Bacon should be kept instead the editor would just need to change the value in this column for all three Francis Bacons to the AID for this row, which is 163.  Similarly, if something has been marked as a duplicate and it’s wrong, then set the ‘AID to keep’ accordingly.  E.g. There are four ‘David Hume’ records, but looking at the dates at least one of these is a different person.  To keep the record with AID 1610 separate, replace the AID 1623 in the ‘AID to keep’ column with 1610.  It is likely that this spreadsheet will be used to manually split up the imported authors that just have all their data in the surname column.  Someone could, for example take the record that has ‘Hume, David, 1560?-1630?’ in the surname column and split this into the correct columns.

I also generated a spreadsheet containing all of the authors that appear to be unique.  This will also need checking for other duplicates that haven’t been picked up as there are a few.  For example AID 1956 ‘Heywood, Thomas, d. 1641’ and 1570 ‘Heywood, Thomas, -1641.’ Haven’t been matched because of that ‘d’.  Similarly, AID 1598 ‘Buffon, George Louis Leclerc, comte de, 1707-1788’ and 2274 ‘Buffon, Georges Louis Leclerc, comte de, 1707-1788.’ Haven’t been matched up because one is ‘George’ and the other ‘Georges’.  Accented characters have also not been properly matched, e.g. AID 1457 ‘Beze, Theodore de, 1519-1605’ and 397 ‘Bèze, Théodore de, 1519-1605.’.  I could add in a Levenshtein test that matches up things that are one character different and update the script to properly take into account accented characters for matching purposes, or these are things that could just be sorted manually.

Ann Fergusson of the DSL got back to me this week after having rigorously tested the search facilities of our new test versions of the DSL API (V2 containing data from the original API and V3 containing data that has been edited since the original API was made).  Ann had spotted some unexpected behaviour in some of the searches and I spent some time investigating these and fixing things where possible.  There were some cases where incorrect results were being returned when a ‘NOT’ search was performed on a selected source dictionary, due to the positioning of the source dictionary in the query.  This was thankfully easy to fix.  There was also an issue with some exact searches of the full text failing to find entries.  When the full text is ingested into Solr all of the XML tags are stripped out.  If there are no spaces between tagged words then words have ended up squashed together. For example: ‘Westminster</q></cit></sense><sense><b>B</b>. <i>Attrib</i>’.  With the tags (and punctuation) stripped out we’re left with ‘WestminsterB’.  So an exact search for ‘westminster’ fails to find this entry.  A search for ‘westminsterb’ finds the entry, which confirms this.  I suspect this situation is going to crop up quite a lot, so I will need to update the script that prepares content for Solr to add spaces after tags before stripping tags and then removes multiple spaces between words.

Week Beginning 13th July 2020

This was week 18 of Lockdown, which is now definitely easing here.  I’m still working from home, though, and will be for the foreseeable future.  I took Friday off this week, so it was a four-day week for me.  I spent about half of this time on the Books and Borrowing project, during which time I returned to adding features to the content management system, after spending recent weeks importing datasets.  I added a number of indexes to the underlying database which should speed up the loading of certain pages considerably.  E.g. the browse books, borrowers and author pages.  I then updated the ‘Books’ tab when viewing a library (i.e. the page that lists all of the book holdings in the library) so that it now lists the number of book holdings in the library above the table.  The table itself now has separate columns for all additional fields that have been created for book holdings in the library and it is now possible to order the table by any of the headings (pressing on a heading a second time reverses the ordering).  The count of ‘Borrowing records’ for each book in the table is now a button and pressing on it brings up a popup listing all of the borrowing records that are associated with the book holding record, and from this pop-up you can then follow a link to view the borrowing record you’re interested in.  I then made similar changes to the ‘Borrowers’ tab when viewing a library (i.e. the page that lists all of the borrowers the library has). It also now displays the total number of borrowers at the top.  This table already allowed the reordering by any column, so that’s not new, but as above, the ‘Borrowing records’ count is now a link that when clicked on opens a list of all of the borrowing records the borrower is associated with.

The big new feature I implemented this week was borrower cross references.   These can be added via the ‘Borrowers’ tab within a library when adding or editing a borrower on this page.  When adding or editing a borrower there is now a section of the form labelled ‘Cross-references to other borrowers’.  If there are any existing cross references these will appear here, with a checkbox beside each that you can tick if you want to delete the cross reference (the user can tick the box then press ‘Edit’ to edit the borrower and the reference will be deleted).  Any number of new cross references can be added by pressing on the ‘Add a cross-reference’ button (multiple times, if required).  Doing so adds two fields to the form, one for a ‘description’, which is the text that shows how the current borrower links to the referenced borrowing record, and one for ‘referenced borrower’, which is an auto-complete.  Type in a name or part of a name and any borrower that matches in any library will be listed.  The library appears in brackets after the borrower’s name to help differentiate records.  Select a borrower and then when the ‘Add’ or ‘Edit’ button is pressed for the borrower the cross reference will be made.

Cross-references work in both directions – if you add a cross reference from Borrower A to Borrower B you don’t then need to load up the record for Borrower B to add a reference back to Borrower A.  The description text will sit between the borrower whose form you make the cross reference on and the referenced borrower you select, so if you’re on the edit form for Borrower A and link to Borrower B and the description is ‘is the son of’ then the cross reference will appear as ‘Borrower A is the son of Borrower B’.  If you then view Borrower B the cross reference will still be written in this order.  I also updated the table of borrowers to add in a new ‘X-Refs’ column that lists all cross-references for a borrower.

I spent the remainder of my working week completing smaller tasks for a variety of projects, such as updating the spreadsheet output of duplicate child entries for the DSL people, getting an output of the latest version of the Thesaurus of Old English data for Fraser, advising Eleanor Lawson on ‘.ac.uk’ domain names and having a chat with Simon Taylor about the pilot Place-names of Fife project that I worked on with him several years ago.  I also wrote a Data Management Plan for a new AHRC proposal the Anglo-Norman Dictionary people are putting together, which involved a lengthy email correspondence with Heather Pagan at Aberystwyth.

Finally, I returned to the ongoing task of merging data from the Oxford English Dictionary with the Historical Thesaurus.  We are currently attempting to extract citation dates from OED entries in order to update the dates of usage that we have in the HT.  This process uses the new table I recently generated from the OED XML dataset which contains every citation date for every word in the OED (more than 3 million dates).  Fraser had prepared a document listing how he and Marc would like the HT dates to be updated (e.g. if the first OED citation date is earlier than the HT start date by 140 years or more then use the OED citation date as the suggested change).  Each rule was to be given its own type, so that we could check through each type individually to make sure the rules were working ok.

It took about a day to write an initial version of the script, which I ran on the first 10,000 HT lexemes as a test.  I didn’t split the output into different tables depending on the type, but instead exported everything to a spreadsheet so Marc and Fraser could look through it.

In the spreadsheet if there is no ‘type’ for a row it means it didn’t match any of the criteria, but I included these rows anyway so we can check whether there are any other criteria the rows should match.  I also included all the OED citation dates (rather than just the first and last) for reference.  I noted that Fraser’s document doesn’t seem to take labels into consideration.  There are some labels in the data, and sometimes there’s a new label for an OED start or end date when nothing else is different, e.g. htid 1479 ‘Shore-going’:  This row has no ‘type’ but does have new data from the OED.

Another issue I spotted is that as the same ‘type’ variable is set when a start date matches the criteria and then when an end date matches the criteria, the ‘type’ as set during start date is then replaced with the ‘type’ for end date.  I think, therefore, that we might have to split the start and end processes up, or append the end process type to the start process type rather than replacing it (so e.g. type 2-13 rather than type 2 being replaced by type 13).  I also noticed that there are some lexemes where the HT has ‘current’ but the OED has a much earlier last citation date (e.g. htid 73 ‘temporal’ has 9999 in the HT but 1832 in the OED.  Such cases are not currently considered.

Finally, according to the document, Antes and Circas are only considered for update if the OED and HT date is the same, but there are many cases where the start / end OED date is picked to replace the HT date (because it’s different) and it has an ‘a’ or ‘c’ and this would then be lost.  Currently I’m including the ‘a’ or ‘c’ in such cases, but I can remove this if needs be (e.g. HT 37 ‘orb’ has HT start date 1601 (no ‘a’ or ‘c’) but this is to be replaced with OED 1550 that has an ‘a’.  Clearly the script will need to be tweaked based on feedback from Marc and Fraser, but I feel like we’re finally making some decent progress with this after all of the preparatory work that was required to get to this point.

Next Monday is the Glasgow Fair holiday, so I won’t be back to work until the Tuesday.

Week Beginning 6th July 2020

Week 16 of Lockdown and still working from home.  I continued working on the data import for the Books and Borrowers project this week.  I wrote a script to import data from Haddington, which took some time due to the large number of additional fields in the data (15 across Borrowers, Holdings and Borrowings), but are executing it resulted in a further 5,163 borrowing records across 2 ledgers and 494 pages being added, including 1399 book holding records and 717 borrowers.

I then moved onto the datasets from Leighton and Wigtown.  Leighton was a much smaller dataset, with just 193 borrowing records over 18 pages in one ledger and involving 18 borrowers and 71 books.  As before, I have just created book holding records for these (rather than project-wide edition records), although in this case there are authors for books too, which I have also created.  Wigtown was another smaller dataset.  The spreadsheet has three sheets, the first is a list of borrowers, the second a list of borrowings and the third a list of books.  However, no unique identifiers are used to connect the borrowers and books to the information in the borrowings sheet and there’s no other field that matches across the sheets to allow the data to be automatically connected up.  For example, in the Books sheet there is the book ‘History of Edinburgh’ by author ‘Arnot, Hugo’ but in the borrowings tab author surname and forename are split into different columns (so ‘Arnot’ and ‘Hugo’ and book titles don’t match (in this case the book appears as simply ‘Edinburgh’ in the borrowings).  Therefore I’ve not been able to automatically pull in the information from the books sheet.  However, as there are only 59 books in the books sheet it shouldn’t take too much time to manually add the necessary data when created Edition records.  It’s a similar issue with Borrowers in the first sheet – they appear with name in one column (e.g. ‘Douglas, Andrew’) but in the Borrowings sheet the names are split into separate forename and surname columns.  There are also instances of people with the same name (e.g. ‘Stewart, John’) but without unique identifiers there’s no way to differentiate these.  There are only 110 people listed in the Borrowers sheet, and only 43 in the actual borrowing data, so again, it’s probably better if any details that are required are added in manually.

I imported a total of 898 borrowing records for Wigtown.  As there is no page or ledger information in the data I just added these all to one page in a made-up ledger.  It does however mean that the page can take quite a while to load in the CMS.  There are 43 associated borrowers and 53 associated books, which again have been created as Holding records only and have associated authors.  However, there are multiple Book Items created for many of these 53 books – there are actually 224 book items.  This is because the spreadsheet contains a separate ‘Volume’ column and a book may be listed with the same title but a different volume.  In such cases a Holding record is made for the book (e.g. ‘Decline and Fall of Rome’) and an Item is made for each Volume that appears (in this case 12 items for the listed volumes 1-12 across the dataset).  With these datasets imported I have now processed all of the existing data I have access to, other than the Glasgow Professors borrowing records, but these are still being worked on.

I did some other tasks for the project this week as well, including reviewing the digitisation policy document for the project, which lists guidelines for the team to follow when they have to take photos of ledger pages themselves in libraries where no professional digitisation service is available.  I also discussed how borrower occupations will be handled in the system with Katie.

In addition to the Books and Borrowers project I found time to work on a number of other projects this week too.  I wrote a Data Management Plan for an AHRC Networking proposal that Carolyn Jess-Cooke in English Literature is putting together and I had an email conversation with Heather Pagan of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary about the Data Management Plan she wants me to write for a new AHRC proposal that Glasgow will be involved with.  I responded to a query about a place-names project from Thomas Clancy, a query about App certification from Brian McKenna in IT Services and a query about domain name registration from Eleanor Lawson at QMU.  Also (outside of work time) I’ve been helping my brother-in-law set up Beacon Genealogy, through which he offers genealogy and family history research services.

Also this week I worked with Jennifer Smith to make a number of changes to the content of the SCOSYA website (https://scotssyntaxatlas.ac.uk/) to provide more information about the project for REF purposes and I added a new dataset to the interactive map of Burns Suppers that I’m creating for Paul Malgrati in Scottish Literature.  I also went through all of the WordPress sites I manage and upgraded them to the most recent version of WordPress.

Finally, I spent some time writing scripts for the DSL people to help identify child entries in the DOST and SND datasets that haven’t been properly merged with main entries when exported from their editing software.  In such cases the child entries have been added to the main entries, but then they haven’t been removed as separate entries in the output data, meaning the child entries appear twice.  When attempting to process the SND data I discovered there were some errors in the XML file (mismatched tags) that prevented my script from processing the file, so I had to spend some time tracking these down and fixing them.  But once this had been done my script could do through the entire dataset, look for an ID that appeared as a URL in one entry and as an ID of another entry and in such cases pull out the IDs and the full XML of each entry and export it into an HTML table.  There were about 180 duplicate child entries in DOST but a lot more in SND (the DOST file is about 1.5mb, the SND one is about 50mb).  Hopefully once the DSL people have analysed the data we can then strip out the unnecessary child entries and have a better dataset to import into the new editing system the DSL is going to be using.

 

Week Beginning 29th June 2020

This was week 15 of Lockdown, which I guess is sort of coming to an end now, although I will still be working from home for the foreseeable future and having to juggle work and childcare every day.  I continued to work on the Books and Borrowing project for much of this week, this time focussing on importing some of the existing datasets from previous transcription projects.  I had previously written scripts to import data from Glasgow University library and Innerpeffray library, which gave us 14,738 borrowing records.  This week I began by focussing on the data from St Andrews University library.

The St Andrews data is pretty messy, reflecting the layout and language of the original documents, so I haven’t been able to fully extract everything and it will require a lot of manual correcting.  However, I did manage to migrate all of the data to a test version of the database running on my local PC and then updated the online database to incorporate this data.

The data I’ve got are CSV and HTML representations of transcribed pages that come from an existing website with pages that look like this: https://arts.st-andrews.ac.uk/transcribe/index.php?title=Page:UYLY205_2_Receipt_Book_1748-1753.djvu/100.  The links in the pages (e.g. Locks Works) lead through to further pages with information about books or borrowers.  Unfortunately the CSV version of the data doesn’t include the links or the linked to data, and as I wanted to try and pull in the data found on the linked pages I therefore needed to process the HTML instead.

I wrote a script that pulled in all of the files in the ‘HTML’ directory and processed each in turn.  From the filenames my script could ascertain the ledger volume, its dates and the page number.  For example ‘Page_UYLY205_2_Receipt_Book_1748-1753.djvu_10.html’ is ledger 2 (1748-1753) page 10.  The script creates ledgers and pages, and adds in the ‘next’ and ‘previous’ page links to join all the pages in a ledger together.

The actual data in the file posed further problems.  As you can see from the linked page above, dates are just too messy to automatically extract into our strongly structured borrowed and returned date system.  Often a record is split over multiple rows as well (e.g. the borrowing record for ‘Rollins belles Lettres’ is actually split over 3 rows).  I could have just grabbed each row and inserted it as a separate borrowing record, which would then need to be manually merged, but I figured out a way to do this automatically.  The first row of a record always appears to have a code (the shelf number) in the second column (e.g. J.5.2 for ‘Rollins’) whereas subsequent rows that appear to belong to the same record don’t (e.g. ‘on profr Shaws order by’ and ‘James Key’).  I therefore set up my script to insert new borrowing records for rows that have codes, and to append any subsequent rows that don’t have codes to this record until a row with a code is reached again.

I also used this approach to set up books and borrowers too.  If you look at the page linked to above again you’ll see that the links through to things are not categorised – some are links to books and others to borrowers, with no obvious way to know which is which.  However, it’s pretty much always the case that it’s a book that appears in the row with the code and it’s people that are linked to in the other rows.  I could therefore create or link to existing book holding records for links in the row with a code and create or link to existing borrower records for links in rows without a code.  There are bound to be situations where this system doesn’t quite work correctly, but I think the majority of rows do fit this pattern.

The next thing I needed to do was to figure out which data from the St Andrews files should be stored as what in our system.  I created four new ‘Additional Fields’ for St Andrews as follows:

  • Original Borrowed date: This contains the full text of the first column (e.g. Decr 16)
  • Code: This contains the full text of the second column (e.g. J.5.2)
  • Original Returned date: This contains the full text of the fourth column (e.g. Jan. 5)
  • Original returned text: This contains the full date of the fifth column (e.g. ‘Rollins belles Lettres V. 2d’)

In the borrowing table the ‘transcription’ field is set to contain the full text of the ‘borrowed’ column, but without links.  Where subsequent rows contain data in this column but no code, this data is then appended to the transcription.  E.g. the complete transcription for the third item on the page linked to above is ‘Rollins belles Lettres Vol 2<sup>d</sup> on profr Shaws order by James Key’.

The contents of all pages linked to in the transcriptions are added to the ‘editors notes’ field for future use if required.  Both the page URL and the page content are included, separated by a bar (|) and if there are multiple links these are separated by five dashes.  E.g. for the above the notes field contains:

‘Rollins_belles_Lettres| <p>Possibly: De la maniere d’enseigner et d’etuder les belles-lettres, Par raport à l’esprit &amp; au coeur, by Charles Rollin. (A Amsterdam : Chez Pierre Mortier, M. DCC. XLV. [1745]) <a href=”http://library.st-andrews.ac.uk/record=b2447402~S1″>http://library.st-andrews.ac.uk/record=b2447402~S1</a></p>

—– profr_Shaws| <p><a href=”https://arts.st-andrews.ac.uk/biographical-register/data/documents/1409683484″>https://arts.st-andrews.ac.uk/biographical-register/data/documents/1409683484</a></p>

—– James_Key| <p>Possibly James Kay: <a href=”https://arts.st-andrews.ac.uk/biographical-register/data/documents/1389455860″>https://arts.st-andrews.ac.uk/biographical-register/data/documents/1389455860</a></p>

—–‘

As mentioned earlier, the script also generates book and borrower records based on the linked pages too.  I’ve chosen to set up book holding rather than book edition records as the details are all very vague and specific to St Andrews.  In the holdings table I’ve set the ‘standardised title’ to be the page link with underscores replaced with dashes (e.g. ‘Rollins belles Lettres’) and the page content is stored in the ‘editors notes’ field.  One book item is created for each holding to be used to link to the corresponding borrowing records.

For borrowers a similar process is followed, with the link added to the surname column (e.g. Thos Duncan) and the page content added to the ‘editors notes’ field (e.g. <p>Possibly Thomas Duncan: <a href=”https://arts.st-andrews.ac.uk/biographical-register/data/documents/1377913372″>https://arts.st-andrews.ac.uk/biographical-register/data/documents/1377913372</a></p>’).  All borrowers are linked to records as ‘Main’ borrowers.

During the processing I noticed that the fourth ledger had a slightly different structure to the others, with entire pages devoted to a particular borrower, whose name then appeared in a heading row in the table.  I therefore updated my script to check for the existence of this heading row, and if it exists my script then grabs the borrower name, creates the borrower record if it doesn’t already exist and then links this borrower to every borrowing item found on the page.  After my script had finished running we had 11147 borrowing records, 996 borrowers and 6395 book holding records for St Andrew in the system.

I then moved onto looking at the data for Selkirk library.  This data was more nicely structured than the St Andrews data, with separate spreadsheets for borrowings, borrowers and books and borrowers and books connected to borrowings via unique identifiers.  Unfortunately the dates were still transcribed as they were written rather than being normalised in any way, which meant it was not possible to straightforwardly generate structured dates for the records and these will need to be manually generated.  The script I wrote to import the data took about a day to write, and after running it we had a further 11,431 borrowing records across two registers and 415 pages entered into our database.

As with St Andrews, I created book records as Holding records only (i.e. associated specifically with the library rather than being project-wide ‘Edition’ records.  There are 612 Holding records for Selkirk.  I also processed the borrower records, resulting in 86 borrower records being added.  I added the dates as originally transcribed to an additional field named ‘Original Borrowed Date’ and the only other additional field is in the Holding records for ‘Subject’, that will eventually be merged with our ‘Genre’ when this feature becomes available.

Also this week I advised Katie on a file naming convention for the digitised images of pages that will be created for the project.  I recommended that the filenames shouldn’t have spaces in them as these can be troublesome on some operating systems and that we’d want a character to use as a delimiter between the parts of the filename that wouldn’t appear elsewhere in the filename so it’s easy to split up the filename.  I suggested that the page number should be included in the filename and that it should reflect the page number as it will be written into the database – e.g. if we’re going to use ‘r’ and ‘v’ these would be included.  Each page in the database will be automatically assigned an auto-incrementing ID, and the only means of linking a specific page record in the database with a specific image will be via the page number entered when the page is created, so if this is something like ‘23r’ then ideally this should be represented in the image filename.

Katie had wondered about using characters to denote ledgers and pages in the filename (e.g. ‘L’ and ‘P’) but if we’re using a specific delimiting character to separate parts of the filename then using these characters wouldn’t be necessary and I suggested it would be better to not use ‘L’ as a lower case ‘l’ is very easy to confuse with a ‘1’ or a capital ‘I’ which might confuse future human users.

Instead I suggested using a ‘-‘ instead of spaces and a ‘_’ as a delimiter and pointed out that we should  ensure that no other non-alphanumeric characters are ever used in the filename – no apostrophes, commas, colons, semi-colons, ampersands etc and to make sure the ‘-‘ is really a minus sign and not one of the fancy dashes (–) that get created by MS Office.  This shouldn’t be an issue when entering a filename, but might be if a list of filenames is created in Word and then pasted into the ‘save as’ box, for example.

Finally, I suggested that it might be best to make the filenames entirely lower case, as some operating systems are case sensitive and if we don’t specify all lower case then there may be variation in the use of case.  Following these guidelines the filenames would look something like this:

  • jpg
  • dumfries-presbytery_2_3v.jpg
  • standrews-ul_9_300r.jpg

In addition to the Books and Borrowing project I worked on a number of other projects this week.  I gave Matthew Creasy some further advice on using forums in his new project website, and ‘Scottish Cosmopolitanism at the Fin de Siècle’ website is now available here: https://scoco.glasgow.ac.uk/.

I also worked a bit more on using dates from the OED data in the Historical Thesaurus.  Fraser had sent me a ZIP file containing the entire OED dataset as 240 XML files and I began analysing these to figure out how we’d extract these dates so that we could use them to update the dates associated with the lexemes in the HT.  I needed to extract the quotation dates as these have ‘ante’ and ‘circa’ notes, plus labels.  I noted that in addition to ‘a’ and ‘c’ a question mark is also used, somethings with an ‘a’ or ‘c’ and sometimes without.  I decided to process things as follows:

  • ?a will just be ‘a’
  • ?c will just be ‘c’
  • ? without an ‘a’ or ‘c’ will be ‘c’.

I also noticed that a date may sometimes be a range (e.g. 1795-8) so I needed to include a second date column in my data structure to accommodate this.  I also noted that there are sometimes multiple Old English dates, and the contents of the ‘date’ tag vary depending on the date – sometimes the content is ‘OE’ and othertimes ‘lOE’ or ‘eOE’.  I decided to process any OE dates for a lexeme as being 650 and to have only one OE date stored, so as to align with how OE dates are stored in the HT database (we don’t differentiate between date for OE words).

While running my date extraction script over one of the XML files I also noticed that there were lexemes in the OED data that were not present in the OED data we had previously extracted.  This presumably means the dataset Fraser sent me is more up to date than the dataset I used to populate our online OED data table.  This will no doubt mean we’ll need to update our online OED table, but as we link to the HT lexeme table using the OED catid, refentry, refid and lemmaid fields if we were to replace the online OED lexeme table with the data in these XML files the connections from OED to HT lexemes would be retained without issue (hopefully), but any matching processes we performed would need to be done again for the new lexemes.

I set my extraction script running on the OED XML files on Wednesday and processing took a long time.  The script didn’t complete until sometime during Friday night, but after it had finished it had processed 238,699 categories, 754,285 lexemes, generating 3,893,341 date rows.  It also found 4,062 new words in the OED data that it couldn’t process because they don’t exist in our OED lexeme database.

I also spent a bit more time working on some scripts for Fraser’s Scots Thesaurus project.  The scripts now ignore ‘additional’ entries and only include ‘n.’ entries that match an HT ‘n’ category.  Variant spellings are also removed (these were all tagged with <form> and I removed all of these).  I also created a new field to store only the ‘NN_’ tagged words and remove all others.

The scripts generated three datasets, which I saved as spreadsheets for Fraser.  The first (postagged-monosemous-dost-no-adds-n-only) contains all of the content that matches the above criteria. The second (postagged-monosemous-dost-no-adds-n-only-catheading-match) lists those lexemes where a postagged word fully matches the HT category heading.  The final (postagged-monosemous-dost-no-adds-n-only-catcontents-match) lists those lexemes where a postagged word fully matches a lexeme in the HT category.  For this table I’ve also added in the full list of lexemes for each HT category too.

I also spent a bit of time working on the Data Management Plan for the new project for Jane Stuart-Smith and Eleanor Lawson at QMU and arranged for a PhD student to get access to the TextGrid files that were generated for the audio records for the SCOTS Corpus project.

Finally, I investigated the issue the DSL people are having with duplicate child entries appearing in their data.  This was due to something not working quite right in a script Thomas Widmann had written to extract the data from the DSL’s editing system before he left last year, and Ann had sent me some examples of where the issue was cropping up.

I have the data that was extracted from Thomas’s script last July as two XML files (dost.xml and snd.xml) and I looked through these for the examples Ann had sent.  The entry for snd13897 contains the following URLs:

<url>snd13897</url>

<url>snds3788</url>

<url>sndns2217</url>

The first is the ID for the main entry and the other two are child entries.  If I search for the second one (snds3788) this is the only occurrence of the ID in the file, as the child entry has been successfully merged.  But if I search for the third one (sndns2217) I find a separate entry with this ID (with more limited content).  The pulling in of data into a webpage in the V3 site uses URLs stored in a table linked to entry IDs. These were generated from the URLs in the entries in the XML file (see the <url> tags above).  For the URL ‘sndns2217’ the query finds multiple IDs, one for the entry snd13897 and another for the entry sdnns2217.  But it finds snd13897 first, so it’s the content of this entry that is pulled into the page.

The entry for dost16606 contains the following URLs:

<url>dost16606</url>

<url>dost50272</url>

(in addition to headword URLs).  Searching for the second one discovers a separate entry with the ID dost50272 (with more limited content).  As with SND, searching the URL table for this URL finds two IDs, and as dost16606 appears first this is the entry that gets displayed.

What we need to do is remove the child entries that still exist as separate entries in the data.  To do this I could is write a script that would go through each entry in the dost.xml and snd.xml files.  It would then pick out every <url> that is not the same as the entry ID and search the file to see if any entry exists with this ID.  If it does then presumably this is a duplicate that should then be deleted.  I’m waiting to hear back from the DSL people to see how we should proceed with this.

As you can no doubt gather from the above, this was a very busy week but I do at least feel that I’m getting on top of things again.

Week Beginning 15th June 2020

This was week 13 of Lockdown, with still no end in sight.  I spent most of my time on the Books and Borrowing project, as there is still a huge amount to do to get the project’s systems set up.  Last week I’d imported several thousand records into the database and had given the team access to the Content Management System to test things out.  One thing that cropped up was that the autocomplete that is used for selecting existing books, borrowers and authors was sometimes not working, or if it did work on selection of an item the script that then populates all of the fields about the book, borrower or author was not working.  I’d realised that this was because there were invisible line break characters (\n or \r) in the imported data and the data is passed to the autocomplete via a JSON file.  Line break characters are not allowed in a JSON file and therefore the autocomplete couldn’t access the data.  I spent some time writing a script that would clean the data of all offending characters and after running this the autocomplete and pre-population scripts worked fine.  However, a further issue cropped up with the text editors in the various forms in the CMS.  These use the TinyMCE widget to allow formatting to be added to the text area, which works great.  However, whenever a new line is created this adds in HTML paragraphs ( ‘<p></p>’, which is good) but the editor also adds a hidden line break character (‘\r’ or ‘\n’ which is bad).  When this field is then used to populate a form via the selection of an autocomplete value the line break makes the data invalid and the form fails to populate.  After identifying this issue I managed ensured all such characters are stripped out of any uploaded data and that fixed the issue.

I had to spend some time fixing a few more bugs that the team had uncovered during the week.  The ‘delete borrower’ option was not appearing, even when a borrower was associated with no records, and I fixed this.  There was also an issue with autocompletes not working in certain situations (e.g. when trying to add an existing borrower to a borrowing record that was initially created without a borrower).  I tracked down and fixed these.  Another issue involved the record page order incrementing whenever the record was edited, even when this had not been manually changed, while another involved book edition data not getting saved in some cases when a borrowing record was created.  I tracked down and fixed these issues too.

With these fixes in place I then moved on to adding new features to the CMS, specifically facilities to add and browse the book works, editions and authors that are used across the project.  Pressing on the ‘Add Book’ menu item  nowloads a page through which you can choose to add a Book Work or a Book Edition (with associated Work, if required).  You can also associate authors with the Works and Editions too. Pressing on the ‘Browse Books’ option now loads a page that lists all of the Book Works in a table, with counts of the number of editions and borrowing records associated with each.  There’s also a row for all editions that don’t currently have a work.  There are currently 1925 such editions so most of the data appears in this section, but this will change.

Through the page you can edit a work (including associating authors) by pressing on the ‘edit’ button.  You can delete a work so long as it isn’t associated with an Edition.  You can bring up a list of all editions in the work by pressing on the eye icon.  Once loaded, the editions are displayed in a table.  I may need to change this as there are so many fields relating to editions that the table is very wide.  It’s usable if I make my browser take up the full width of my widescreen monitor, but for people using a smaller screen it’s probably going to be a bit unwieldy.  From the list of editions you can press the ‘edit’ button to edit one of them – for example assigning one of the ‘no work’ editions to a work (existing or newly created via the edit form).  You can also delete an edition if it’s not associated with anything.  The Edition table includes a list of borrowing records, but I’ll also need to find a way to add in an option to display a list of all of the associated records for each, as I imagine this will be useful.

Pressing on the ‘Add Author’ menu item brings up a form allowing a new author to be added, which will then be available to associate with books throughout the CMS, while pressing on the ‘Browse Authors’  menu item brings up a list of authors.  At the moment this table (and the book tables) can’t be reordered by their various columns.  This is something else I still need to implement.  You can delete an author if it’s not associated with anything and also edit the author details.  As with the book tables I also need to add in a facility to bring up a list of all records the author is associated with, in addition to just displaying counts. I also noticed that there seems to be a bug somewhere that is resulting in blank authors occasionally being generated, and I’ll need to look into this.

I then spent some time setting up the project’s server, which is hosted at Stirling University.  I was given access details by Stirling’s IT Support people and managed to sign into the Stirling VPN and get access to the server and the database.  There was an issue getting write access to the server, but after that was resolved I was able to upload all of the CMS files, set up the WordPress instance that will be the main project website and migrate the database.

I was hoping I’d be able to get the CMS up and running on the new server without issue, but unfortunately this did not prove to be the case.  It turns out that the Stirling server uses a different (and newer) version of the PHP scripting language than the Glasgow server and some of the functionality is different, for example on the Glasgow server you can call a function with less parameters than it is set up to require (e.g. addAuthor(1) when the function is set up to take 2 parameters (e.g.addAuthor(1,2)).  The version on the Stirling server doesn’t allow this and instead the script breaks and a blank page is displayed.  It took a bit of time to figure out what was going on, and now I know what the issue is I’m going to have to go through every script and check how every function is called, and this is going to be my priority next week.

I also spent a bit of time finalising the website for the project’s pilot project, which deals with borrowing records at Glasgow.  This was managed by Matt Sangster, and he’d sent me a list of things we wanted to sort; I spent a few hours going through this, and we’re just about at the point where the website can be made publicly available.

I had intended to spend Friday working on the new way of managing dates for the Historical Thesaurus.  The script I’d created to generate the dates for all 790,000-odd lexemes completed during last Friday night and over the weekend I wrote another script that would then shift the connectors up one (so a dash would be associated with the date before the dash rather than the one after it, for example).  This script then took many hours to run.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to look further into this until Thursday, when I found a bit of time to analyse the output, at which point I realised that while the generation of the new fulldate field had worked successfully, the insertion of bracketed dates into the new dates table had failed, as the column was set as an integer and I’d forgotten to strip out the brackets.  Due to this problem I had to set my scripts running all over again.  The first one completed at lunchtime on Friday, but the second didn’t complete until Saturday so I didn’t manage to work on the HT this week.  However, this did mean that I was able to return to a Scots Thesaurus data processing task that Fraser asked me to look into at the start of May, so it’s not all bad news.

Fraser’s task required me to set up the Stanford Part of Speech tagger on my computer, which meant configuring Java and other such tasks that took a bit of time.  I then write a script that took the output of a script I’d written over a year ago that contained monosemous headwords in the DOST data, ran their definitions through the Part of Speech tagger and then outputted this to a new table.  This may sound straightforward, but it took quite some time to get everything working, and then another couple of hours for the script to process around 3,000 definitions.  But I was able to send the output to Fraser on Friday evening.

Also this week I gave advice to a few members of staff, such as speaking to Matthew Creasy about his new Scottish Cosmopolitanism project, Jane Stuart-Smith about a new project that she’s putting together with QMU, Heather Pagan of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary about a proposal she’s putting together, Rhona Alcorn about the Scots School Dictionary app and Gerry McKeever about publicising his interactive map.