With the help of Raymond at Arts IT Support we migrated the test version of the DSL website to the new server this week, and also set up the Solr free-text indexes for the new DSL data too. This test version of the site will become the live version when we’re ready to launch it in April and the migration all went pretty smoothly, although I did encounter an error with the htaccess script that processed URLs for dictionary pages due to underscores not needing to be escaped on the old server but requiring a backslash as an escape character on the new server.
I also replaced the test version’s WordPress database with a copy of the live site’s WordPress database, plus copied over some of the customisations from the live site such as changes to logos and the content of the header and the footer, bringing the test version’s ancillary content and design into alignment with the live site whilst retaining some of the additional tweaks I’d made to the test site (e.g. the option to hide the ‘browse’ column and the ‘about this entry’ box).
One change to the structure of the DSL data that has been implemented is that dates are now machine readable, with ‘from’, ‘to’ and ‘prefix’ attributes. I had started to look at extracting these for use in the site (e.g. maybe displaying the earliest citation date alongside the headword in the ‘browse’ lists) when I spotted an issue with the data: Rather than having a date in the ‘to’ attribute, some entries had an error code – for example there are 6,278 entries that feature a date with ‘PROBLEM6’ as a ‘to’ attribute. I flagged this up with the DSL people and after some investigation they figured out that the date processing script wasn’t expecting to find a circa in a date ending a range (e.g. c1500-c1512). When the script encountered such a case it was giving an error instead. The DSL people were able to fix this issue and a new data export was prepared, although I won’t be using it just yet, as they will be sending me a further update before we go live and to save time I decided to just wait until they send this on. I also completed work on the XSLT for displaying bibliography entries and created a new ‘versions and changes’ page, linking to it from a statement in the footer that notes the data version number.
For the ‘Speak For Yersel’ project I made a number of requested updates to the exercises that I’d previously created. I added a border around the selected answer and ensured the active state of a selected button doesn’t stay active and I added handy ‘skip to quiz’ and ‘skip to explore’ links underneath the grammar and lexical quizzes so we don’t have to click through all those questions to check out the other parts of the exercise. I italicised ‘you’ and ‘others’ on the activity index pages and I fixed a couple of bugs on the grammar questionnaire. Previously only the map rolled up and an issue was caused when an answer was pressed on whilst the map was still animating. Now the entire question area animates so it’s impossible to press on an answer when the map isn’t available. I updated the quiz questions so they now have the same layout as the questionnaire, with options on the left and the map on the right and I made all maps taller to see how this works.
For the ‘Who says what where’ exercise the full sentence text is now included and I made the page scroll to the top of the map if this isn’t visible when you press on an item. I also updated the map and rating colours, although there is still just one placeholder map that loads so the lexical quiz with its many possible options doesn’t have its own map that represents this. The map still needs some work – e.g. adding in a legend and popups. I also made all requested changes to the lexical question wording and made the ‘v4’ click activity the only version, making it accessible via the activities menu and updated the colours for the correct and incorrect click answers.
For the Books and Borrowing project I completed a first version of the requirements for the public website, which has taken a lot of time and a lot of thought to put together, resulting in a document that’s more than 5,000 words long. On Friday I had a meeting with PI Katie and Co-I Matt to discuss the document. We spent an hour going through it and a list of questions I’d compiled whilst writing it, and I’ll need to make some modifications to the document based on our discussions. I also downloaded images of more library registers from St Andrews and one further register from Glasgow that I will need to process when I’m back at work too.
I also spent a bit of time writing a script to export a flat CSV version of the Historical Thesaurus, then made some updates based on feedback from the HT team before exporting a further version. We also spotted that adjectives of ‘parts of insects’ appeared to be missing from the website and I investigated what was going on with it. It turned out that there was an empty main category missing, and as all the other data was held in subcategories these didn’t appear, as all subcategories need a main category to hang off. After adding in a maincat all of the data was restored.
Finally, I did a bit of work for the Speech Star project. Firstly, I fixed a couple of layout issues with the ExtIPA chart symbols. There was an issue with the diacritics for the symbol that looks like a theta, resulting in them being offset. I reduced the size of the symbol slightly and have adjusted the margins of the symbols above and below and this seems to have done the trick. In addition, I did a little bit of research into setting the playback speed and it looks like this will be pretty easy to do whilst still using the default video player. See this page: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/3027707/how-to-change-the-playing-speed-of-videos-in-html5. I added a speed switcher to the popup as a little test to see how it works. The design would still need some work (buttons with the active option highlighted) but it’s good to have a proof of concept. Pressing ‘normal’ or ‘slow’ sets the speed for the current video in the popup and works both when the video is playing and when it’s stopped.
Also, I was sure that jumping to points in the videos wasn’t working before, but it seems to work fine now – you can click and drag the progress bar and the video jumps to the required point, either when playing or paused. I wonder if there was something in the codec that was previously being used that prevented this. So fingers cross we’ll be able to just use the standard HTML5 video player to achieve everything the projects requires.
I’ll be participating in the UCU strike action for all of next week so it will be the week beginning the 28th of March before I’m back in work again.
This was my first five-day week after the recent UCU strike action and it was pretty full-on, involving many different projects. I spent about a day working on the Speak For Yersel project. I added in the content for all 32 ‘I would never say that’ questions and completed work on the new ‘Give your word’ lexical activity, which features a further 30 questions of several types. This includes questions that have associated images and questions where multiple answers can be selected. For the latter no more than three answers are allowed to be selected and this question type needs to be handed differently as we don’t want the map to load as soon as one answer is selected. Instead the user can select / deselect answers. If at least one answer is selected a ‘Continue’ button appears under the question. When you press on this the answers become read only and the map appears. I made it so that no more than three options can be selected – you need to deselect one before you can add another. I think we’ll need to look into the styling of the buttons, though, as currently ‘active’ (when a button is hovered over or has been pressed and nothing else has yet been pressed) is the same colour is ‘selected’. So if you select ‘ginger’ then deselect it the button still looks selected until you press somewhere else, which is confusing. Also if you press a fourth button it looks like it has been selected when in actual fact it’s just ‘active’ and isn’t really selected.
I also spent about a day continuing to work on the requirements document for the Books and Borrowing project. I haven’t quite finished this initial version of the document but I’ve made good progress and I aim to have it completed next week. Also for the project I participated in a Zoom call with RA Alex Deans and NLS Maps expert Chris Fleet about a subproject we’re going to develop for B&B for the Chambers Library in Edinburgh. This will feature a map-based interface showing where the borrowers lived and will use a historical map layer for the centre of Edinburgh.
Chris also talked about a couple of projects at the NLS that were very useful to see. The first one was the Jamaica journal of Alexander Innes (https://geo.nls.uk/maps/innes/) which features journal entries plotted on a historical map and a slider allowing you to quickly move through the journal entries. The second was the Stevenson maps of Scotland (https://maps.nls.uk/projects/stevenson/) that provides options to select different subjects and date periods. He also mentioned a new crowdsourcing project to transcribe all of the names on the Roy Military Survey of Scotland (1747-55) maps which launched in February and already has 31,000 first transcriptions in place, which is great. As with the GB1900 project, the data produced here will be hugely useful for things like place-name projects.
I also participated in a Zoom call with the Historical Thesaurus team where we discussed ongoing work. This mainly involves a lot of manual linking of the remaining unlinked categories and looking at sensitive words and categories so there’s not much for me to do at this stage, but it was good to be kept up to date.
I continued to work on the new extIPA charts for the Speech Star project, which I had started on last week. Last week I had some difficulties replicating the required phonetic symbols but this week Eleanor directed me to an existing site that features the extIPA chart (https://teaching.ncl.ac.uk/ipa/consonants-extra.html). This site uses standard Unicode characters in combinations that work nicely, without requiring any additional fonts to be used. I’ve therefore copied the relevant codes from there (this is just character codes like b̪ – I haven’t copied anything other than this from the site). With the symbols in place I managed to complete an initial version of the chart, including pop-ups featuring all of the videos, but unfortunately the videos seem to have been encoded with an encoder that requires QuickTime for playback. So although the videos are MP4 they’re not playing properly in browsers on my Windows PC – instead all I can hear is the audio. It’s very odd as the videos play fine directly from Windows Explorer, but in Firefox, Chrome or MS Edge I just get audio and the static ‘poster’ image. When I access the site on my iPad the videos play fine (as QuickTime is an Apple product). Eleanor is still looking into re-encoding the videos and will hopefully get updated versions to me next week.
I also did a bit more work for the Anglo-Norman Dictionary this week. I fixed a couple of minor issues with the DTD, for example the ‘protect’ attribute was an enumerated list that could either be ‘yes’ or ‘no’ but for some entries the attribute was present but empty, and this was against the rules. I looked into whether an enumerated list could also include an empty option (as opposed to not being present, which is a different matter) but it looks like this is not possible (see for example http://lists.xml.org/archives/xml-dev/200309/msg00129.html). What I did instead was to change the ‘protect’ attribute from an enumerated list with options ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to a regular data field, meaning the attribute can now include anything (including being empty). The ‘protect’ attribute is a hangover from the old system and doesn’t do anything whatsoever in the new system so it shouldn’t really matter. And it does mean that the XML files should now validate.
The AND people also noticed that some entries that are present in the old version of the site are missing from the new version. I looked through the database and also older versions of the data from the new site and it looks like these entries have never been present in the new site. The script I ran to originally export the entries from the old site used a list of headwords taken from another dataset (I can’t remember where from exactly) but I can only assume that this list was missing some headwords and this is why these entries are not in the new site. This is a bit concerning, but thankfully the old site is still accessible. I managed to write a little script that grabs the entire contents of the browse list from the old website, separating it into two lists, one for main entries and one for xrefs. I then ran each headword against a local version of the current AND database, separating out homonym numbers then comparing the headword with the ‘lemma’ field in the DB and the hom with the hom. Initially I ran main and xref queries separately, comparing main to main and xref to xref, but I realised that some entries had changed types (legitimately so, I guess) so stopped making a distinction.
The script outputted 1540 missing entries. This initially looks pretty horrifying, but I’m fairly certain most of them are legitimate. There are a whole bunch of weird ‘n’ forms in the old site that have a strange character (e.g. ‘nun⋮abilité’) that are not found in the new site, I guess intentionally so. Also, there are lots of ‘S’ and ‘R’ words but I think most of these are because of joining or splitting homonyms. Geert, the editor, looked through the output and thankfully it turns out that only a handful of entries are missing, and also that these were also missing from the old DMS version of the data so their omission occurred before I became involved in the project.
Finally this week I worked with a new dataset of the Dictionaries of the Scots Language. I successfully imported the new data and have set up a new ‘dps-v2’ api. There are 80,319 entries in the new data compared to 80,432 in the previous output from DPS. I have updated our test site to use the new API and its new data, although I have not been able to set up the free-text data in Solr yet so the advanced search for full text / quotations only will not work yet. Everything else should, though.
Also today I began to work on the layout of the bibliography page. I have completed the display of DOST bibs but haven’t started on SND yet. This includes the ‘style guide’ link when a note is present. I think we may still need to tweak the layout, however. I’ll continue to work with the new data next week.
I participated in the UCU strike action from Monday to Wednesday this week, making it a two-day week for me. I’d heard earlier in the week that the paper I’d submitted about the redevelopment of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary had been accepted for DH2022 in Tokyo, which was great. However, the organisers have decided to make the conference online only, which is disappointing, although probably for the best given the current geopolitical uncertainty. I didn’t want to participate in an online only event that would be taking place in Tokyo time (nine hours ahead of the UK) so I’ve asked to withdraw my paper.
On Thursday I had a meeting with the Speak For Yersel project to discuss the content that the team have prepared and what I’ll need to work on next. I also spend a bit of time looking into creating a geographical word cloud which would fit word cloud output into a geoJSON polygon shape. I found one possible solution here: https://npm.io/package/maptowordcloud but I haven’t managed to make it work yet.
I also received a new set of videos for the Speech Star project, relating to the extIPA consonants, and I began looking into how to present these. This was complicated by the extIPA symbols not being standard Unicode characters. I did a bit of research into how these could be presented, and found this site http://www.wazu.jp/gallery/Test_IPA.html#ExtIPAChart but here the marks appear to the right of the main symbol rather than directly above or below. I contacted Eleanor to see if she had any other ideas and she got back to me with some alternatives which I’ll need to look into next week.
I spent a bit of time working for the DSL this week too, looking into a question about Google Analytics from Pauline Graham (and finding this very handy suite of free courses on how to interpret Google Analytics here https://analytics.google.com/analytics/academy/). The DSL people had also wanted me to look into creating a Levenshtein distance option, whereby words that are spelled similarly to an entered term are given as suggestions, in a similar way to this page: http://chrisgilmour.co.uk/scots/levensht.php?search=drech. I created a test script that allows you to enter a term and view the SND headwords that have a Levenshtein distance of two or less from your term, with any headwords with a distance of one highlighted in bold. However, Levenshtein is a bit of a blunt tool, and as it stands I’m not sure the results of the script are all that promising. My test term ‘drech’ brings back 84 matches, including things like ‘french’ which is unfortunately only two letters different from ‘drech’. I’m fairly certain my script is using the same algorithm as used by the site linked to above, it’s just that we have a lot more possible matches. However, this is just a simple Levenshtein test – we could also add in further tests to limit (or expand) the output, such as a rule that changes vowels in certain places as in the ‘a’ becomes ‘ai’ example suggested by Rhona at our meeting last week. Or we could limit the output to words beginning with the same letter.
Also this week I had a chat with the Historical Thesaurus people, arranging a meeting for next week and exporting a recent version of the database for them to use offline. I also tweaked a couple of entries for the AND and spent an hour or so upgrading all of the WordPress sites I manage to the latest WordPress version.
I participated in the UCU strike action for all of last week and on Monday and Tuesday this week. I divided the remaining three days between three projects: the Anglo-Norman Dictionary, the Dictionaries of the Scots Language and Books and Borrowing.
For AND I continued to work on the publication of a major update of the letter S. I had deleted all of the existing S entries and had imported all of the new data into our test instance the week before the strike, giving the editors time to check through it all and work on the new data via the content management system of the test instance. They had noticed that some of the older entries hadn’t been deleted, and this was causing some new entries to not get displayed (as both old and new entries had the same ‘slug’ and therefore the older entry was still getting picked up when the entry’s page was loaded). It turned out that I had forgotten that not all S entries actually have a headword beginning with ‘s’ – there are some that have brackets and square brackets. There were 119 of these entries still left in the system and I updated my deletion scripts to remove these additional entries, ensuring that only the older versions and not the new ones were removed. This fixed the issues with new entries not appearing. With this task completed and the data approved by the editors we replaced the live data with the data from the test instance.
The update has involved 2,480 ‘main’ entries, containing 4,109 main senses, 1,295 subsenses, 2,627 locutions, 1,753 locution senses, 204 locution subsenses and 16,450 citations. In addition, 4,623 ‘xref’ entries have been created or updated. I also created a link checker which goes through every entry, pulls out all cross references from anywhere in the entry’s XML and checks to see whether each cross-referenced entry actually exists in the system. The vast majority of links were all working fine but there were still a substantial number that were broken (around 800). I’ve passed a list of these over to the editors who will need to manually fix the entries over time.
For the DSL I had a meeting on Thursday morning with Rhona, Ann and Pauline to discuss the major update to the DSL’s data that is going to go live soon. This involves a new batch of data exported from their new editing system that will have a variety of significant structural changes, such as a redesigned ‘head’ section, and an overhauled method of recording dates. We will also be migrating the live site to a new server, a new API and a new Solr instance so it’s a pretty major change. We had been planning to have all of this completed by the end of March, but due to the strike we now think it’s best to push this back to the end of April, although we may launch earlier if I manage to get all of the updates sorted before then. Following the meeting I made a few updates to our test instance of the system (e.g. reinstating some superscript numbers from SND that we’d previously hidden) and had a further email conversation with Ann about some ancillary pages.
For the Books and Borrowing project I downloaded a new batch of images for five more registers that had been digitised for us by the NLS. I then processed these, uploaded them to our server and generated register and page records for each page image. I also processed the data from the Royal High School of Edinburgh that had been sent to me in a spreadsheet. There were records from five different registers and it took quite some time to write a script that would process all of the data, including splitting up borrower and book data, generating book items where required and linking everything together so that a borrower and a book only exist once in the system even if they are associated with many borrowing records. Thankfully I’d done this all before for previous external datasets, but the process is always different for each dataset so there was still much in the way of reworking to be done.
I completed my scripts and ran them on a test instance of the database running on my local PC to start with. When all was checked and looking good I ran the scripts on the live server to incorporate the new register data with the main project dataset. After completing the task there were 19,994 borrowing records across 1,438 register pages, involving 1,932 books and 2,397 borrowers. Some tweaking of the data may be required (e.g. I noticed there are two ‘Alexander Adam’ borrowers, which seems to have occurred because there was a space character before the forename sometimes) but on the whole it’s all looking good to me.
Next week I’ll be on strike again on Monday to Wednesday.
It’s been a pretty full-on week ahead of the UCU strike action, which begins on Monday. I spent quite a bit of time working on the Speak For Yersel project, starting with a Zoom call on Monday, after which I continued to work on the ‘click’ map I’d developed last week. The team liked what I’d created but wanted some changes to be made. They didn’t like that the area containing the markers was part of the map and you needed to move the map back to the marker area to grab and move a marker. Instead they wanted to have the markers initially stored in a separate section beside the map. I thought this would be very tricky to implement but decided to investigate anyway and unfortunately I was proved right. In the original version the markers are part of the mapping library – all we’re doing is moving them around the map. To have the icons outside the map means the icons initially cannot be part of the mapping library, but instead need to be simple HTML elements, but when they are dragged into the map they then have to become map markers with latitude and longitude values, ideally with a smooth transition from plain HTML to map icon as the element is dragged from the general website into the map pane.
It took many hours to figure out how this might work and to update the map to implement the new way of doing things. I discovered that HTML5’s default drag and drop functionality could be used (see this example: https://jsfiddle.net/430oz1pj/197/), which allows you to drag an HTML element and drop it somewhere. If the element is dropped over the map then a marker can be created at this point. However, this proved to be more complicated than it looks to implement as I needed to figure out a way to pass the ID of the HTML marker to the mapping library, and also handle the audio files associated with the icons. Also, the latitude and longitude generated in the above example was not in any way an accurate representation of the cursor pointer location. For this reason I integrated a Leaflet plugin that displays the coordinates of the mouse cursor (https://github.com/MrMufflon/Leaflet.Coordinates). I hid this on the map, but it still runs in the background, allowing my script to grab the latitude and longitude of the cursor at the point where the HTML element is dropped. I also updated the marker icons to add a number to each one, making it easier to track which icon is which. This also required me to rework the play and pause audio logic. With all of this in place I completed ‘v2’ of the click map and I thought the task was completed until I did some final testing on my iPad and Android phone. And unfortunately I discovered that the icons don’t drag on touchscreen devices (even the touchscreen on my Windows 11 laptop). This was a major setback as clearly we need the resource to work on touchscreens.
I then created a further ‘v4’ version has the updated areas (Shetland and Orkney, Western Isles and Argyll are now split) and use the broader areas around Shetland and the Western Isles for ‘correct’ areas. I’ve also updated the style of the marker box and made it so that the ‘View correct locations’ and ‘Continue’ buttons only become active after the user has dragged all of the markers onto the map.
The ‘View correct locations’ button also now works again. The team had also wanted the correct locations to appear on a new map that would appear beside the existing map. Thinking more about this I really don’t think it’s a good idea. Introducing another map is likely to confuse people and on smaller screens the existing map already takes up a lot of space. A second map would need to appear below the first map and people might not even realise there are two maps as both wouldn’t fit on screen at the same time. What I’ve done instead is to slow down the animation of markers to their correct location when the ‘view’ button is pressed so it’s easier to see which marker is moving where. I think this in combination with the markers now being numbered makes it clearer. Here’s a screenshot of this ‘v4’ version showing two markers on the map, one correct, the other wrong:
There is still the issue of including the transcriptions of the speech. We’d discussed adding popups to the markers to contain these, but again the more I think about this the more I reckon it’s a bad idea. Opening a popup requires a click and the markers already have a click event (playing / stopping the audio). We could change the click event after the ‘View correct locations’ button is pressed, so that from that point onwards clicking on a marker opens a popup instead of playing the audio, but I think this would be horribly confusing. We did talk about maybe always having the markers open a popup when they’re clicked and then having a further button to play the audio in the popup along with the transcription, but requiring two clicks to listen to the audio is pretty cumbersome. Plus marker popups are part of the mapping library so the plain HMTL markers outside the map couldn’t have popups, or at least not the same sort.
I wondered if we’re attempting to overcomplicate the map. I would imagine most school children aren’t even going to bother looking at the transcripts and cluttering up the map with them might not be all that useful. An alternative might be to have the transcripts in a collapsible section underneath the ‘Continue’ button that appears after the ‘check answers’ button is pressed. We could have some text saying something like ‘Interested in reading what the speakers said? Look at the transcripts below’. The section could be hidden by default and then pressing on it opens up headings for speakers 1-8. Pressing on a heading then expands a section where the transcript can be read.
On Tuesday I had a call with the PI and Co-I of the Books and Borrowing project about the requirements for the front-end and the various search and browse functionality it would need to have. I’d started writing a requirements document before the meeting and we discussed this, plus their suggestions and input from others. It was a very productive meeting and I continued with the requirements document after the call. There’s still a lot to put into it, and the project’s data and requirements are awfully complicated, but I feel like we’re making good progress and things are beginning to make sense.
I also made some further tweaks to the speech database for the Speech Star project. I’d completed an initial version of this last week, including the option to view multiple selected videos side by side. However, while the videos worked fine in Firefox in other browsers only the last video loaded in successfully. It turns out that there’s a limit to the number of open connections Chrome will allow. If I set the videos so that the content doesn’t preload then all videos work when you press to play them. However, this does introduce a further problem: without preloading the video nothing gets displayed where the video appears unless you add in a ‘poster’, which is an image file to use as a placeholder, usually a still from the video. We had these for all of the videos for Seeing Speech, but we don’t have them for the new STAR videos. I’ve made a couple manually for the test page, but I don’t want to have to manually create hundreds of such images. I did wonder about doing this via YouTube as it generates placeholder images, but even this is going to take a long time as you can only upload 15 videos at once to Youtube, then you need to wait for them to be processed, then you need to manually download the image you want.
I found a post that gave some advice on programmatically generating poster images from video files (https://stackoverflow.com/questions/2043007/generate-preview-image-from-video-file) but the PHP library seemed to require some kind of weird package installer to first be installed in order to function. The library also required https://ffmpeg.org/download.html to be installed to function, and I decided to not bother with the PHP library and just use FFMPEG directly, calling it from the command line via a PHP script and iterating through the hundreds of videos to make the posters. It worked very well and now the ‘multivideo’ feature works perfectly in all browsers.
Also this week I had a Zoom call with Ophira Gamliel in Theology about a proposal she’s putting together. After the call I wrote sections of a Data Management Plan for the proposal and answered several emails over the remainder of the week. I also had a chat with the DSL people about the switch to the new server that we have scheduled for March. There’s quite a bit to do with the new data (and new structures in the new data) before we go live to March is going to be quite a busy time.
Finally this week I spent some time on the Anglo-Norman Dictionary. I finished generating the KWIC data for one of the textbase texts now that the server will allow scripts to execute for a longer time. I also investigated an issue with the XML proofreader that was giving errors. It turned out that the errors were being caused by errors in the XML files and I found out that oXygen offers a very nice batch validation facility that you can run on massive batches of XML files at the same time (See https://www.oxygenxml.com/doc/versions/24.0/ug-editor/topics/project-validation-and-transformation.html). I also began working with a new test instance of the AND site, through which I am going to publish the new data for the letter S. There are many thousand XML files that need to be integrated and it’s taking some time to ensure the scripts to process these work properly, but all is looking encouraging.
I will be participating in the UCU strike action over the coming weeks so that’s all for now.
I split my time over many different projects this week. For the Books and Borrowing project I completed the work I started last week on processing the Wigtown data, writing a little script that amalgamated borrowing records that had the same page order number on any page. These occurrences arose when multiple volumes of a book were borrowed by a person at the same time and each volume was recorded separately. My script worked perfectly and many such records were amalgamated.
I then moved onto incorporating images of register pages from Leighton into the CMS. This proved to be a rather complicated process for one of the four registers as around 30 pages for the register had already been manually created in the CMS and had borrowing records associated with them. However, these pages had been created in a somewhat random order, starting at folio number 25 and mostly being in order down to 43, at which point the numbers are all over the place, presumably because the pages were created in the order that they were transcribed. As it stands the CMS relies on the ‘page ID’ order when generating lists of pages as ‘Folio Number’ isn’t necessarily in numerical order (e.g. front / back matter with Roman numerals). If out of sequence pages crop up a lot we may have to think about adding a new ‘page order’ column, or possibly use the ‘previous’ and ‘next’ IDs to ascertain the order pages should be displayed. After some discussion with the team it looks like pages are usually created in page order and Leighton is an unusual case, so we can keep using the auto-incrementing page ID for listing pages in the contents page. I therefore generated a fresh batch of pages for the Leighton register then moved the borrowing records from the existing mixed up pages to the appropriate new page, then deleted the existing pages so everything is all in order.
For the Speak For Yersel project I created a new exercise whereby users are presented with a map of Scotland divided into 12 geographical areas and there are eight map markers in a box in the sea to the east of Scotland. Each marker is clickable, and clicking on it plays a sound file. Each marker is also draggable and after listening to the sound file the user should then drag the marker to whichever area they think the speaker in the sound file is from. After dragging all of the markers the user can then press a ‘check answers’ button to see which they got right, and press a ‘view correct locations’ button which animates the markers to their correct locations on the map. It was a lot of fun making the exercise and I think it works pretty well. It’s still just an initial version and no doubt we will be changing it, but here’s a screenshot of how it currently looks (with one answer correct and the rest incorrect):
For the Speech Star project I made some further changes to the speech database. Videos no longer autoplay, as requested. Also, the tables now feature checkboxes beside them. You can select up to four videos by pressing on these checkboxes. If you select more than four the earliest one you pressed is deselected, keeping a maximum of four no matter how many checkboxes you try to click on. When at least one checkbox is pressed the tab contents will slide down and a button labelled ‘Open selected videos’ will appear. If you press on this a wider popup will open, containing all of your chosen videos and the metadata about each. This has required quite a lot of reworking to implement, but it seemed to be working well, until I realised that while the multiple videos load and play successfully in Firefox, in Chrome and MS Edge (which is based on Chrome) only the final video loads in properly, with only audio playing on the other videos. I’ll need to investigate this further next week. But here’s a screenshot of how things look in Firefox:
Also this week I spoke to Thomas Clancy about the Place-names of Iona project, including discussing how the front-end map will function (Thomas wants an option to view all data on a single map, which should work although we may need to add in clustering at higher zoom levels. We also discussed how to handle external links and what to do about the elements database, that includes a lot of irrelevant elements from other projects.
Finally, I had some email conversations with the DSL people and made an update to the interface of the new DSL website to incorporate an ‘abbreviations’ button, which links to the appropriate DOST or SND abbreviations page.
I had a very busy week this week, working on several different projects. For the Books and Borrowing project I participated in the team Zoom call on Monday to discuss the upcoming development of the front-end and API for the project, which will include many different search and browse facilities, graphs and visualisations. I followed this up with a lengthy email to the PI and Co-I where I listed some previous work I’ve done and discussed some visualisation libraries we could use. In the coming weeks I’ll need to work with them to write a requirements document for the front-end. I also downloaded images from Orkney library, uploaded all of them to the server and generated the necessary register and page records. One register with 7 pages already existed in the system and I ensured that page images were associated with these and the remaining pages of the register fit in with the existing ones. I also processed the Wigtown data that Gerry McKeever had been working on, splitting the data associated with one register into two distinct registers, uploading page images and generating the necessary page records. This was a pretty complicated process, and I still need to complete the work on it next week, as there are several borrowing records listed as separate rows when in actual fact they are merely another volume of the same book borrowed at the same time. These records will need to be amalgamated.
For the Speak For Yersel project I had a meeting with the PI and RA on Monday to discuss updates to the interface I’ve been working on, new data for the ‘click’ exercise and a new type of exercise that will precede the ‘click’ exercise and will involve users listening to sound clips then dragging and dropping them onto areas of a map to see whether they can guess where the speaker is from. I spent some time later in the week making all of the required changes to the interface and the grammar exercise, including updating the style used for the interactive map and using different marker colours.
I also continued to work on the speech database for the Speech Star project based on feedback I received about the first version I completed last week. I added in some new introductory text and changed the order of the filter options. I also made the filter option section hidden by default as it takes up quite a lot of space, especially on narrow screens. There’s now a button to show / hide the filters, with the section sliding down or up. If a filter option is selected the section remains visible by default. I also changed the colour of the filter option section to a grey with a subtle gradient (it gets lighter towards the right) and added a similar gradient to the header, just to see how it looks.
The biggest update was to the filter options, which I overhauled so that instead of a drop-down list where one option in each filter type can be selected there are checkboxes for each filter option, allowing multiple items of any type to be selected. This was a fairly large change to implement as the way selected options are passed to the script and the way the database is queried needed to be completely changed. When an option is selected the page immediately reloads to display the results of the selection and this can also change the contents of the other filter option boxes – e.g. selecting ‘alveolar’ limits the options in the ‘sound’ section. I also removed the ‘All’ option and left all checkboxes unselected by default. This is how filters on clothes shopping sites do it – ‘all’ is the default and a limit is only applied if an option is ticked.
I also changed the ‘accent’ labels as requested, changed the ‘By Prompt’ header to ‘By Word’ and updated the order of items in the ‘position’ filter. I also fixed an issue where ‘cheap’ and ‘choose’ were appearing in a column instead of the real data. Finally, I made the overlay that appears when a video is clicked on darker so it’s more obvious that you can’t click on the buttons. I did investigate whether it was possible to have the popup open while other page elements were still accessible but this is not something that the Bootstrap interface framework that I’m using supports, at least not without a lot of hacking about with its source code. I don’t think it’s worth pursuing this as the popup will cover much of the screen on tablets / phones anyway, and when I add in the option to view multiple videos the popup will be even larger.
Also this week I made some minor tweaks to the Burns mini-project I was working on last week and had a chat with the DSL people about a few items, such as the data import process that we will be going through again in the next month or so and some of the outstanding tasks that I still need to tackle with the DSL’s interface.
I also did some work for the AND this week, investigating a weird timeout error that cropped up on the new server and discussing how best to tackle a major update to the AND’s data. The team have finished working on a major overhaul of the letter S and this is now ready to go live. We have decided that I will ask for a test instance of the AND to be set up so I can work with the new data, testing out how the DMS runs on the new server and how it will cope with such a large update.
The editor, Geert, had also spotted an issue with the textbase search, which didn’t seem to include one of the texts (Fabliaux) he was searching for. I investigated the issue and it looked like the script that extracted words from pages may have silently failed in some cases. There are 12,633 page records in the textbase, each of which has a word count. When the word count is greater than zero my script processes the contents of the page to generate the data for searching. However, there appear to be 1889 pages in the system that have a word count of zero, including all of Fabliaux. Further investigation revealed that my scripts expect the XML to be structured with the main content in a <body> tag. This cuts out all of the front matter and back matter from the searches, which is what we’d agreed should happen and thankfully accounts for many of the supposedly ‘blank’ pages listed above as they’re not the actual body of the text.
However, Fabliaux doesn’t include the <body> tag in the standard way. In fact, the XML file consists of multiple individual texts, each of which has a separate <body> tag. As my script didn’t find a <body> in the expected place no content was processed. I ran a script to check the other texts and the following also have a similar issue: gaunt1372 (710 pages) and polsongs (111 pages), in addition to the 37 pages of Fabliaux. Having identified these I could update my script that generates search words and re-ran it for these texts, fixing the issue.
Also this week I attended a Zoom-based seminar on ‘Digitally Exhibiting Textual Heritage’ that was being run by Information Studies. This featured four speakers from archives, libraries and museums discussing how digital versions of texts can be exhibited, both in galleries and online. Some really interesting projects were discussed, both past and present. This included the BL’s ‘Turning the Pages’ system (http://www.bl.uk/turning-the-pages/) , some really cool transparent LCD display cases (https://crystal-display.com/transparent-displays-and-showcases/) that allow images to be projected on clear glass while objects behind the panel are still visible. 3d representations of gallery spaces were discussed (e.g. https://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/ghostwords), as were ‘long form narrative scrolls’ such as https://www.nytimes.com/projects/2012/snow-fall/index.html#/?part=tunnel-creek, http://www.wolseymanuscripts.ac.uk/ and https://stories.durham.ac.uk/journeys-prologue/. There is a tool that can be used to create these here: https://shorthand.com/. It was a very interesting session!
I continued to work on the Books and Borrowing project for a lot of this week, completing some of the tasks I began last week and working on some others. We ran out of server space for digitised page images last week, and although I freed up some space by deleting a bunch of images that were no longer required we still have a lot of images to come. The team estimates that a further 11,575 images will be required. If the images we receive for these pages are comparable to the ones from the NLS, which average around 1.5Mb each, then 30Gb should give us plenty of space. However, after checking through the images we’ve received from other digitisation units it turns out that the NLS images are a vit of an outlier in term of file size and generally 8-10Mb is more usual. If we use this as an estimate then we would maybe require 120Gb-130Gb of additional space. I did some experiments with resizing and changing the image quality of one of the larger images, managing to bring an 8.4Mb image down to 2.4Mb while still retaining its legibility. If we apply this approach to the tens of thousands of larger images we have then this would result in a considerable saving of storage. However, Stirling’s IT people very kindly offered to give us a further 150Gb of space for the images so this resampling process shouldn’t be needed for now at least.
Another task for the project this week was to write a script to renumber the folio numbers for the 14 volumes from the Advocates Library that I noticed had irregular numbering. Each of the 14 volumes had different issues with their handwritten numbering, so I had to tailor my script to each volume in turn, and once the process was complete the folio numbers used to identify page images in the CMS (and eventually in the front-end) entirely matched the handwritten numbers for each volume.
My next task for the project was to import the records for several volumes from the Royal High School of Edinburgh but I ran into a bit of an issue. I had previously been intending to extract the ‘item’ column and create a book holding record and a single book item record for each distinct entry in the column. This would then be associated with all borrowing records in RHS that also feature this exact ‘item’. However, this is going to result in a lot of duplicate holding records due to the contents of the ‘item’ column including information about different volumes of a book and/or sometimes using different spellings.
For example, in SL137142 the book ‘Banier’s Mythology’ appears four times as follows (assuming ‘Banier’ and ‘Bannier’ are the same):
- Banier’s Mythology v. 1, 2
- Banier’s Mythology v. 1, 2
- Bannier’s Myth 4 vols
- Bannier’s Myth. Vol 3 & 4
My script would create one holding and item record for ‘Banier’s Mythology v. 1, 2’ and associate it with the first two borrowing records but the 3rd and 4th items above would end up generating two additional holding / item records which would then be associated with the 3rd and 4th borrowing records.
No script I can write (at least not without a huge amount of work) would be able to figure out that all four of these books are actually the same, or that there are actually 4 volumes for the one book, each requiring its own book item record, and that volumes 1 & 2 need to be associated with borrowing records 1&2 while all 4 volumes need to be associated with borrowing record 3 and volumes 3&4 need to be associated with borrowing record 4. I did wonder whether I might be able to automatically extract volume data from the ‘item’ column but there is just too much variation.
We’re going to have to tackle the normalisation of book holding names and the generation of all required book items for volumes at some point and this either needs to be done prior to ingest via the spreadsheets or after ingest via the CMS.
My feeling is that it might be simpler to do it via the spreadsheets before I import the data. If we were to do this then the ‘Item’ column would become the ‘original title’ and we’d need two further columns, one for the ‘standardised title’ and one listing the volumes, consisting of a number of each volume separated with a comma. With the above examples we would end up with the following (with a | representing a column division):
- Banier’s Mythology v. 1, 2 | Banier’s Mythology | 1,2
- Banier’s Mythology v. 1, 2 | Banier’s Mythology | 1,2
- Bannier’s Myth 4 vols | Banier’s Mythology | 1,2,3,4
- Bannier’s Myth. Vol 3 & 4 | Banier’s Mythology | 3,4
If each sheet of the spreadsheet is ordered alphabetically by the ‘item’ column it might not take too long to add in this information. The additional fields could also be omitted where the ‘item’ column has no volumes or different spellings. E.g. ‘Hederici Lexicon’ may be fine as it is. If the ‘standardised title’ and ‘volumes’ columns are left blank in this case then when my script reaches the record it will know to use ‘Hederici Lexicon’ as both original and standardised titles and to generate one single unnumbered book item record for it. We agreed that normalising the data prior to ingest would be the best approach and I will therefore wait until I receive updated data before I proceed further with this.
Also this week I generated a new version of a spreadsheet containing the records for one register for Gerry McKeever, who wanted borrowers, book items and book holding details to be included in addition to the main borrowing record. I also made a pretty major update to the CMS to enable books and borrower listings for a library to be filtered by year of borrowing in addition to filtering by register. Users can either limit the data by register or year (not both). They need to ensure the register drop-down is empty for the year filter to work, otherwise the selected register will be used as the filter. On either the ‘books’ or ‘borrowers’ tab in the year box they can add either a single year (e.g. 1774) or a range (e.g. 1770-1779). Then when ‘Go’ is pressed the data displayed is limited to the year or years entered. This also includes the figures in the ‘borrowing records’ and ‘Total borrowed items’ columns. Also, the borrowing records listed when a related pop-up is opened will only feature those in the selected years.
I also worked with Raymond in Arts IT Support and Geert, the editor of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary to complete the process of migrating the AND website to the new server. The website (https://anglo-norman.net/) is now hosted on the new server and is considerably faster than it was previously. We also took the opportunity the launch the Anglo-Norman Textbase, which I had developed extensively a few months ago. Searching and browsing can be found here: https://anglo-norman.net/textbase/ and this marks the final major item in my overhaul of the AND resource.
My last major task of the week was to start work on a database of ultrasound video files for the Speech Star project. I received a spreadsheet of metadata and the video files from Eleanor this week and began processing everything. I wrote a script to export the metadata into a three-table related database (speakers, prompts and individual videos of speakers saying the prompts) and began work on the front-end through which this database and the associated video files will be accessed. I’ll be continuing with this next week.
In addition to the above I also gave some advice to the students who are migrating the IJOSTS journal over the WordPress, had a chat with the DSL people about when we’ll make the switch to the new API and data, set up a WordPress site for Joanna Kopaczyk for the International Conference on Middle English, upgraded all of the WordPress sites I manage to the latest version of WordPress, made a few tweaks to the 17th Century Symposium website for Roslyn Potter, spoke to Kate Simpson in Information Studies about speaking to her Digital Humanities students about what I do and arranged server space to be set up for the Speak For Yersel project website and the Speech Star project website. I also helped launch the new Burns website: https://burnsc21-letters-poems.glasgow.ac.uk/ and updated the existing Burns website to link into it via new top-level tabs. So a pretty busy week!
I spent a bit of time this week writing as second draft of a paper for DH2022 after receiving feedback from Marc. This one targets ‘short papers’ (500-750 words) and I managed to get it submitted before the deadline on Friday. Now I’ll just need to see if it gets accepted – I should find out one way or the other in February. I also made some further tweaks to the locution search for the Anglo-Norman Dictionary, ensuring that when a term appears more than once the result is repeated for each occurrence, appearing in the results grouped by each word that matches the term. So for example ‘quatre tempres, tens’ now appears twice, once amongst the ‘tempres’ and once amongst the ‘tens’ results.
I also had a chat with Heather Pagan about the Irish Dictionary eDIL (http://www.dil.ie/) who are hoping to rework the way they handle dates in a similar way to the AND. I said that it would be difficult to estimate how much time it would take without seeing their current data structure and getting more of an idea of how they intend to update it, and also what updates would be required to their online resource to incorporate the updated date structure, such as enhanced search facilities and whether further updates to their resource would also be part of the process. Also whether any back-end systems would also need to be updated to manage the new data (e.g. if they have a DMS like the AND).
Also this week I helped out with some issues with the Iona place-names website just before their conference started on Thursday. Someone had reported that the videos of the sessions were only playing briefly and then cutting out, but they all seemed to work for me, having tried them on my PC in Firefox and Edge and on my iPad in Safari. Eventually I managed to replicate the issue in Chrome on my desktop and in Chrome on my phone, and it seemed to be an issue specifically related to Chrome, and didn’t affect Edge, which is based on Chrome. The video file plays and then cuts out due to the file being blocked on the server. I can only assume that the way Chrome accesses the file is different to other browsers and it’s sending multiple requests to the server which is then blocking access due to too many requests being sent (the console in the browser shows a 403 Forbidden error). Thankfully Raymond at Arts IT Support was able to increase the number of connections allowed per browser and this fixed the issue. It’s still a bit of a strange one, though.
I also had a chat with the DSL people about when we might be able to replace the current live DSL site with the ‘new’ site, as the server the live site is on will need to be decommissioned soon. I also had a bit of a catch-up with Stevie Barrett, the developer in Celtic and Gaelic, and had a video call with Luca and his line-manager Kirstie Wild to discuss the current state of Digital Humanities across the College of Arts. Luca does a similar job to me at college-level and it was good to meet him and Kirstie to see what’s been going on outside of Critical Studies. I also spoke to Jennifer Smith about the Speak For Yersel project, as I’d not heard anything about it for a couple of weeks. We’re going to meet on Monday to take things further.
I spent the rest of the week working on the radar diagram visualisations for the Historical Thesaurus, completing an initial version. I’d previously created a tree browser for the thematic headings, as I discussed last week. This week I completed work on the processing of data for categories that are selected via the tree browser. After the data is returned the script works out which lexemes have dates that fall into the four periods (e.g. a word with dates 650-9999 needs to appear in all four periods). Words are split by Part of speech, and I’ve arranged the axes so that N, V, Aj and Av appear first (if present), with any others following on. All verb categories have also been merged.
I’m still not sure how widely useful these visualisations will be as they only really work for categories that have several parts of speech. But there are some nice ones. See for example a visualisation of ‘Badness/evil’, ‘Goodness, acceptability’ and ‘Mediocrity’ which shows words for ‘Badness/evil’ being much more prevalent in OE and ME while ‘Mediocrity’ barely registers, only for it and ‘Goodness, acceptability’ to grow in relative size EModE and ModE:
I also added in an option to switch between visualisations which use total counts of words in each selected category’s parts of speech and visualisations that use percentages. With the latter the scale is fixed at a maximum of 100% across all periods and the points on the axes represent the percentage of the total words in a category that are in a part of speech in your chosen period. This means categories of different sizes are more easy to compare, but does of course mean that the relative sizes of categories is not visualised. I could also add a further option that fixes the scale at the maximum number of words in the largest POS so the visualisation still represents relative sizes of categories but the scale doesn’t fluctuate between periods (e.g. if there are 363 nouns for a category across all periods then the maximum on the scale would stay fixed at 363 across all periods, even if the maximum number of nouns in OE (for example) is 128. Here’s the above visualisation using the percentage scale:
The other thing I did was to add in a facility to select a specific category and turn off the others. So for example if you’ve selected three categories you can press on a category to make it appear bold in the visualisation and to hide the other categories. Pressing on a category a second time reverts back to displaying all. Your selection is remembered if you change the scale type or navigate through the periods. I may not have much more time to work on this before Christmas, but the next thing I’ll do is to add in access to the lexeme data behind the visualisation. I also need to fix a bug that is causing the ModE period to be missing a word in its counts sometimes.
I participated in the UCU strike action on Wednesday to Friday this week, so it was a two-day working week for me. During this time I gave some help to the students who are migrating the International Journal of Scottish Theatre and Screen and talked to Gerry Carruthers about another project he’s hoping to put together. I also passed on information about the DNS update to the DSL’s IT people, added a link to the DSL’s new YouTube site to the footer of the DSL site and dealt with a query regarding accessing the DSL’s Google Analytics data. I also spoke with Luca about arranging a meeting with him and his line manager to discuss digital humanities across the college and updated the listings for several Android apps that I created a few years ago that had been taken down due to their information being out of date. As central IT services now manages the University Android account I hadn’t received notifications that this was going to take place. Hopefully the updates have done the trick now.
Other than this I made some further updates to the Anglo-Norman Dictionary’s locution search that I created last week. This included changing the ordering to list results by the word that was search for rather than by headword, changing the way the search works so that a wildcard search such as ‘te*’ now matches the start of any word in the locution phrase rather than just the first work and fixing a number of bugs that had been spotted.
I spent the rest of my available time starting to work on an interactive version of the radar diagram for the Historical Thesaurus. I’d made a static version of this a couple of months ago which looks at a the words in an HT category by part of speech and visualises how the numbers of words in each POS change over time. What I needed to do was find a way to allow users to select their own categories to visualise. We had decided to use the broader Thematic Categories for the feature rather than regular HT categories so my first task was to create a Thematic Category browser from ‘AA The World’ to ‘BK Leisure’. It took a bit of time to rework the existing HT category browser to work with thematic categories, and also to then enable the selection of multiple categories by pressing on the category name. Selected categories appear to the right of the browser, and I added in an option to remove a selected category if required. With this in place I began work on the code to actually grab and process the data for the selected categories. This finds all lexemes and their associated dates for each lexeme in each HT category in each of the selected thematic categories. For now the data is just returned and I’m still in the middle of processing the dates to work out which period each word needs to appear in. I’ll hopefully find some time to continue with this next week. Here’s a screenshot of the browser: