Week Beginning 19th October 2020

I was back at work this week after having a lovely holiday the previous week.  It was a pretty busy week, mostly spent continuing to work on the preparations for the second edition of the Historical Thesaurus, which needs to be launched before the end of the month.  I updated the OED date extraction script that formats all of the OED dates as we need them in the HT, including making full entries, in the HT dates table, generating the ‘full date’ text string that gets displayed on the website and generating cached first and last dates that are used for searching.  I’d somehow managed to get the plus and dash connectors the wrong way round in my previous version of the script (a plus should be used where there is a gap of more than 150 years, otherwise it’s a dash) so I fixed this.  I also stripped out dates that were within a 150 year time span, which really helped to make the full date text more readable. I also updated the category browser so that the category’s thematic heading is displayed in the drop-down section.

Fraser had made some suggested changes to the script I’d written to figure out whether an OED lexeme was new or already in the system so I made some changes to this and regenerated the output.  I also made further tweaks to the date extraction script so that we record the actual final date in the system rather than converting it to ‘9999’ and losing this information that will no doubt be useful in future.  I then worked on the post-1999 lexemes, which followed a similar set of processes.

With this all in place I could then run a script that would actually import the new lexemes and their associated dates into the HT database.  This included changelog codes, new search terms and new dates (cached firstdate and lastdate, fulldate and individual entries in the dates table).  A total of 11116 new words were added, although I subsequently noticed there were a few duplicates that had slipped through the net.  With these stripped out we had a total of 804,830 lexemes in the HT, and it’s great to have broken through the 800,000 mark.  Next week I need to fix a few things (e.g. the fullsize timelines aren’t set up to cope with post-1945 dates that don’t end in ‘9999’ if they’re current) but we’re mostly now good to launch the second edition.

Also this week I worked on setting up a website for the ‘Symposium for Seventeenth-Century Scottish Literature’ for Roslyn Potter in Scottish Literature and set up a subdomain for an art catalogue website for Bryony Randall’s ‘Imprints of the New Modernist Editing’ project.  I also helped Megan Coyer out with an issue she was having in transcribing multi-line brackets in Word and travelled to the University to collect a new, higher-resolution monitor and some other peripherals to make working from home more pleasant.  I also fixed a couple of bugs in the Books and Borrowing CMS, including one that was resulting in BC dates of birth and death for authors being lost when data was edited.  I also spent some time thinking about the structure for the Burns Correspondence system for Pauline Mackay, resulting in a long email with a proposed database structure.  I met with Thomas Clancy and Alasdair Whyte to discuss the CMS for the Iona place-names project (it now looks like this is going to have to be a completely separate system from Alasdair’s existing Mull / Ulva system) and replied to Simon Taylor about a query he had regarding the Place-names of Fife data.

I also found some time to continue with the redevelopment of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary website.  I updated the way cognate references were processed to enable multiple links to be displayed for each dictionary. I also added in a ‘Cite this entry’ button, which now appears in the top right of the entry that when clicked on opens a pop-up where citation styles will appear (they’re not there yet).  I updated the left-hand panel to make it ‘sticky’: If you scroll down a long entry the panel stays visible on screen (unless you’re viewing on a narrow screen like a mobile phone in which case the left-hand panel appears full-width before the entry).  I also added in a top bar that appears when you scroll down the screen that contains the site title, the entry headword and the ‘cite’ button.  I then began working on extracting the citations, including their dates and text, which will be used for search purposes.  I ran an extraction script that extracted about 60,0000 citations, but I released that this was not extracting all of the citations and further work will be required to get this right next week.

 

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.