Week Beginning 12th July 2021

I’m down visiting my parents in Yorkshire for the first time in 18 months this week and next, working a total of four days over the two-week period.  This week I mainly focussed on the Irish front-end for the Comparative Kingship place-names project, but also adding in some updates to the Scotland system that I recently set up, such as making the Gaelic forms of the classification codes visible and adding options to browse Gaelic forms of place-names and historical forms to the ‘Browse’ facility and ensuring the other place-name and historical form browses only bring back English forms.

The Irish system is mostly identical to the Scottish system, but I did need to make some changes that took a bit of time to implement.  As the place-names covered appear to be much more geographically spread out, I’ve allowed the map to be zoomed out further.  I’ve also had to remove the modern OS and historical OS map layers as they don’t cover Ireland, so currently there are only three map layers available (the default view, satellite view and satellite view with labels).  The Ordnance Survey of Ireland provides access to some historical map layers here: https://geohive.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=9def898f708b47f19a8d8b7088a100c4 but their terms and conditions makes it clear that you can’t use the maps on another online resource.  However, there are a couple of Irish maps on the NLS website, the Bartholomew Quarter-Inch 1940 (https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=9&lat=53.10286&lon=-7.34481&layers=13&b=1) and the GSGS One-Inch 1941-3 (https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=9&lat=53.10286&lon=-7.34481&layers=14&b=1) and we could investigate integrating these as the NLS maps people have always been very helpful.

I also updated the map pop-ups to include the new Irish data fields, such as baronies, townlands and the different map types.  Both English and Gaelic forms of things like parishes, baronies and classification codes are displayed throughout the site and on the Record page the ITM figures also appear.  I updated the ‘Browse’ page so that it features baronies and the element glossary should work, but I haven’t tested it out as there is no data yet.  The Advanced search features a selectable list of baronies and currently a simple textbox for townlands.  I may change this to an autocomplete (whereby you start typing and townlands that include the letters appear in a selectable list), or I may leave it as it is, meaning multiple townlands can be searched for and wildcard characters can be used.

I managed to locate downloadable files containing parish boundaries for Ireland here: https://www.townlands.ie/page/download/ and have added these to the data for the two parishes that currently contain data.  I haven’t added in any other parish boundaries yet as there are over 200 parishes in our database I don’t want to have to manually add in the boundaries for all of these if it won’t be necessary.  Also, on the Scotland maps the three-letter acronym appears in the middle of each parish in order to identify it, but the Irish parishes don’t have TLAs so currently don’t have any labels.  The full text of the parish will clutter up the map too much if I use it, so I’m not sure what we could do to label the parishes.

Also this week I responded to some feedback about the Data Management Plan for Kirsteen McCue’s proposal and created a slightly revised version.  I also had an email conversation with Eleanor Lawson about her new speech project and how the web presence for the project may function.  Finally, I made some tweaks to the Dictionary of the Scots Language, updating the layout of the ‘Contact’ page and updating the bibliography page on the new website so that URLs that use the old style IDs will continue to work.  I also had a chat with Rhona Alcorn about some new search options that we are going to add in to the new site before it goes live, although probably not until the autumn.

 

Week Beginning 5th July 2021

After a lovely week’s holiday in the East Neuk of Fife last week I returned to full week of work.  I spent Monday catching up with emails and making some updates to two project websites.  Firstly, for the Anglo-Norman Dictionary I updated the Textbase to add in the additional PDF texts.  As these are not part of the main Textbase I created a separate page that listed and linked to them, and added a reference to the page to the introductory paragraph of the main Textbase page.  Secondly, I made some further updates to the content management system for the Books and Borrowing project.  There was a bug in the ‘clear borrower’ feature that resulted in the normalised occupation fields not getting clears.  This meant that unless a researcher noticed and manually removed the selected occupations it would be very easy to end up with occupations assigned to the wrong borrower.  I implemented a fix for this bug, so all is well now.  I had also been alerted to an issue with the library’s ‘books’ tab.  When limiting the listed books to only those mentioned in a specific register the list of associated borrowing records that appears in a popup was not limiting the records to those in the specified register.  I fixed this as well, and also made a comparable fix to the ‘borrowers’ tab as well.

During the week I also had an email conversation with Kirsteen McCue about her ‘Singing the Nation’ AHRC proposal, and made a new version of the Data Management Plan for her.  I also investigated some anomalies with the stats for the Dictionary of the Scots Language website for Rhona Alcon.  Usage figures were down compared to last year, but it looks like last year may have been a blip caused by Covid, as figures for this year match up pretty well with the figures for years before the dreaded 2020.

On Wednesday I was alerted to an issue with the Historical Thesaurus website, which appeared to be completely inaccessible.  Further investigation revealed that other sites on the server were also all down.  Rather strangely the Arts IT Support team could all access the sites without issue, and I realised that if I turned wifi off on my phone and accessed the site via mobile data I could access the site too.  I had thought it was an issue with my ISP, but Marc Alexander reported that he used a different ISP and could also not access the sites.  Marc pointed me in the direction of two very handy websites that are useful for checking whether websites are online or not.  https://downforeveryoneorjustme.com checks the site and lets you know whether it’s working while https://www.uptrends.com/tools/uptime is a little more in-depth and checks whether the site is available from various locations across the globe.  I’ll need to remember these in future.

The sites were still inaccessible on Thursday morning  and after some Googling I found an answer to someone with a similar issue here: https://webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/104092/why-is-my-site-showing-as-being-down-for-some-places-and-not-others I asked Arts IT Support to check with central IT Services to see whether any DNS settings had been changed recently or if they know what might be causing the issue, as it turned out to be a more widespread issue than I had thought, and was affecting sites on different servers too.  A quick check of the sites linked to from this site showed that around 20 websites were inaccessible.

Thankfully by Thursday lunchtime the sites had begun to be accessible again, although not for everyone.  I could access them, but Marc Alexander still couldn’t.  By Friday morning all of the sites were fully accessible again from locations around the globe, and Arts IT Support got back to me with a cause for the issue.  Apparently there was some server in the Boyd Orr that controls DNS records for the University and it had gone wrong and sent out garbled instructions to other DNS servers around the world, which knocked out access to our sites, even though the sites themselves were all working perfectly.

I spent the rest of the week working on the front-end for the Scotland data for the Comparative Kingship project, a task that I’d begun before I went away on my holiday.  I managed to complete an initial version of the Scotland front-end, which involved taking the front-end from one of the existing place-names websites (e.g. https://kcb-placenames.glasgow.ac.uk/) and adapting it.  I had to make a number of adaptations, such as ensuring that two parallel interfaces and APIs could function on one site (one for Scotland, one for Ireland), updating a lot of the site text, creating a new, improved menu system and updating the maps so that they defaulted to the new area of research.  I also needed to add in facilities to search, return data for and display new Gaelic fields, e.g. Gaelic versions of place-names and historical forms.  This meant updating the advanced search to add in a new ‘language’ choice option, to enable a user to limit their search to just English or Gaelic place-name forms or historical forms.  This in turn meant updating the API to add in this additional option.

An additional complication came when I attempted to grab the parish boundary data, which for previous project I’d successfully exported from Scottish Government’s Spatial Data website (https://www.spatialdata.gov.scot/geonetwork/srv/eng/catalog.search#/metadata/c1d34a5d-28a7-4944-9892-196ca6b3be0c) via a handy API (https://maps.gov.scot/server/rest/services/ScotGov/AgricultureEnvironment/MapServer/1/query).  However, the parish boundary data was not getting returned with latitude / longitude pairs marking the parish shape, but instead used esriMeters instead.  I found someone else who wanted to covert esriMeters into lat/lng (https://gis.stackexchange.com/questions/54534/how-can-i-convert-esrimeters-to-lat-lng) and one of the responses was that with an ArcGIS service (which the above API appears to be) you should be able to set the ‘output spatial reference’, with the code 4326 being used for WGS84, which would give lat/lng values.  The API form does indeed have an ‘Output Spatial Reference’ field, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to do anything.  I did lots of further Googling and tried countless different ways of entering the code, but nothing changed the output.

Eventually I gave up and tried an alternative approach.  The site also provides the parish data as an ESRI Shapefile (https://maps.gov.scot/ATOM/shapefiles/SG_AgriculturalParishes_2016.zip) and I wondered whether I could plug this into a desktop GIS package and use it to migrate the coordinates to lat/lng.  I installed the free GIS package QGIS (https://www.qgis.org/en/site/forusers/download.html) and after opening it went to the ‘Layer’ menu, selected ‘Add Layer’, then ‘Add Vector Layer’ then selected the zip file and pressed ‘add’, at which point all of the parish data loaded in, allowing me to select a parish and view the details for it.  What I then needed to do was to find a means of changing the spatial reference and saving a geoJSON file.  After much trial and error I discovered that in the ‘Layer’ menu there is a ‘Save as’ option.  This allowed me to specify the output format (geoJSON) and change the ‘CRS’, which is the ‘Coordinate Reference System’.  In the drop-down list I located ESPG: 4326 / WGS84 and selected it.  I then specified a filename (the folder defaults to a Windows System folder and needs to be updated too) and pressed ‘OK’ and after a long wait the geoJSON file was generated, with latitude and longitude values for all parishes.  Phew!  It was quite a relief to get this working.

With access to a geoJSON file containing parishes with lat/lng pairings I could then find and import the parishes that we needed for the current project, of which there were 28.  It took a bit of time to grab all of these, and I then needed to figure out where I wanted the three-letter acronyms for each parish to be displayed, as well, which I worked out using the National Library of Scotland’s parish boundaries map (https://maps.nls.uk/geo/boundaries/), which helpfully displays lat/lng coordinates for your cursor position in the bottom right.  With all of the parish boundary data in place the infrastructure for the Scotland front-end is now more or less complete and I await feedback from the project team.  I will begin work on the Ireland section next, which will take quite some work as the data fields are quite different.  I’m only going to be working a total of four days over the next two weeks (probably as half-days) so my reports for the next couple of weeks are likely to be a little shorter!

Week Beginning 21st June 2021

This was a four-day week for me as I’m off on Friday and will be off all of next week too.  A big thing I ticked off my ‘to do’ list this week was completing work on the ‘Browse’ facility for the Anglo-Norman Textbase, featuring each text on its own continuous page rather than split into sometimes hundreds of individual pages.  I finished updating the way footnotes work, and they are now renumbered starting at [1] on each page of each text no matter what format they originally had.  All of the issues I’d noted about footnote numbers in my previous couple of blog posts have now been addressed (e.g. numbering out of sequence, numbers getting erroneously repeated).

With the footnotes in place I then we through each of the 77 texts to check their layout, which took quite some time but also raised a few issues that needed to be fixed.  The biggest thing was I needed to regenerate the page number data (used in the ‘jump to page’ feature) as I realised the previously generated data was including all <pb> tags, but some of the texts such as ‘indentures’ use <pb> to mean something else.  For example, ‘<pb ed=”MS” n=”Dorse”/>’ is not an actual page break and there are numerous of these occurrences throughout the text, resulting in lots of ‘Dorse’ options in the ‘jump to page’ list.  Instead I limited the page breaks to just those that have ‘ed=”base”’ in them, e.g. ‘<pb n=”49″ ed=”base”/>’ and this seems to have done the trick.

I also noticed some issues with paragraph and table tags in footnotes causing the notes to display in the wrong place or display only partially, and the ‘dorse’ issue was also resulting in footnotes getting added to the wrong page sometimes.  Thankfully I managed to fix these issues and so as far as I can tell that’s the ‘browse’ facility of the Textbase complete.  The editors don’t want to launch the Textbase until the search facilities have also been developed, so it’s going to be a while until they’re actually available, what with summer holidays and commitments to other projects.

Also this week I continued to work on the Books and Borrowings project, having an email conversation with the digitisers at the NLS about file formats and methods of transferring files, and making further updates to the CMS to add features and make things run quicker.  I managed to reduce the number of database calls on the ‘Books’ tab in the library view again, which should mean the page loads faster.  Previously all book holding records were returned and then a separate query was executed for each to count the number of borrowings whereas I’ve now nested the count query in the initial query.  So for St Andrews with its 7471 books this has cut out 7471 individual queries.

I’d realised that the ‘borrowing records’ count column in this ‘Books’ table isn’t actually a count of borrowing records at all, but a count of the number of book items that have been borrowed for the book holding.  I’ve figured out a way to return a count of borrowing records instead, and I replaced the old way with the new way, so the ‘Borrowing Records’ column now does what it should do.  This means the numbers listed have changed, e.g. ‘Universal History’ now has 177 borrowing records rather than 269 and is no longer the most borrowed book holding at St Andrews.  I also changed the popup so that each borrowing record only appears once (e.g. David Gregory on 1748-6-7 now only has one borrowing record listed).  I added a further ‘Total borrowed items’ column in as well, to hold the information that was previously in the ‘Borrowing Records’ column, and it’s possible to order the table by this column too.  I also noticed that I’d accidentally removed columns displaying additional fields from the table, so I have reinstated these.  For St Andrews this means the ‘Classmark’ column is now back in the table.  I also realised that my new nested count queries were not limiting their counts when a specific register was selected so updated them to take this into consideration too.

Also this week I updated all of the WordPress sites I manage to the latest version and ensured all plugins were updated too.  I then began working on the public interfaces for the Comparative Kingship place-names project, which will have separate interfaces for its Scotland and Ireland data.  So far I’ve modified the existing place-names API so that it works with a database table prefix and got the API working for the Scotland data.  I then began working on the front-end that connects to this API and have managed to get the ‘browse’ option sort of working, although there are still some issues with layout and JavaScript due to the site using a different theme to the other place-names sites.  I’ll continue looking into this once I’m back from my holidays on the 5th of July.

Week Beginning 17th May 2021

I spent a lot of this week continuing with the Anglo-Norman Dictionary, including making some changes to the proofreader feature I created recently.  I tweaked the output of this so that there is now a space between siglum and ‘MS’, ‘edgloss’ now has brackets and there is now a blank paragraph before the ‘summary’ section and also before the ‘cognate refs’ section to split things up a bit.  I also added some characters (~~) before and after the ‘summary’ section to help split things up and added extra spaces before and after sense numbers, and square brackets around them (because background styles, which give the round, black circle are not carried over into Word when the content is copied).  I also added more spaces round the labels, added an extra line break before locutions and made the locution phrase appear in bold.

I also spent some time investigating some issues with the data, for example a meaning was not getting displayed in the summary section of https://anglo-norman.net/entry/chaucer_3 because the part of speech labels didn’t quite match up (one was ‘subst.’, the other was ‘sbst.’) and updated the entry display so that the ‘form section’ at the top of an entry gets displayed even if there is no ‘cognate refs’ section.  My code repositions the ‘formSection’ so it appears before ‘cognateRefs’ and as it was not finding this section it wasn’t repositioning the forms anywhere – instead they just disappeared.  I therefore updated the code to ensure that the forms will only be repositioned if the ‘cognateRefs’ section is present, and this has fixed the matter.

I also responded to a request for data from a researcher at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin who wanted information on entries that featured specific grammatical labels.  As of yet the advanced search does not include a part of speech search, but I could generate the necessary data from the underlying database.  I also ran a few queries to update further batches of bad dates in the system.

With all of this out of the way I then moved onto a more substantial task – creating a new ‘date builder’ feature for the Dictionary Management System.  The old DMS featured such a tool, which allows the editor to fill in some text boxes and for an XML form of the date (either text, manuscript or both) to be generated, copied and pasted into their XML editor.  The old feature used a mixture of Perl scripts and JavaScript to generate the XML, over several thousand lines of code, but I wanted to handle it all in JavaScript in a (hopefully) more succinct way.

My initial version allowed an editor to add Text and MS dates using the input boxes and then by pressing the ‘Generate XML’ button the ‘XML’ box is populated and the date as it would be displayed on the site is also displayed.  I amalgamated the ‘proof’ and ‘Build XML’ options from the old DMS as it seemed more useful to just do both at the same time.  There is also a ‘clear’ button that does what you’d expect it to do and a ‘log’ that displays feedback about the date.  E.g. if the date doesn’t conform to the expected pattern (yyyy / yyyy-yyyy / yyyy-yy / yyyy-y) or one of the characters isn’t a number or the date after the dash is earlier than the date before the dash then a warning will be displayed here.  The XML area is editable so if needs be the content can be manually tweaked.  There is also a ‘Copy XML’ button to copy the contents of the XML area to the clipboard.

What I didn’t realise was that non-numerical dates also need to be processed using the date builder, so for example ‘s.xiii’, ‘s.xivex’, ‘sxii/xiii’.  I needed to update the date builder to handle seven different centuries which could be joined in a range either by a dash or a slash, and 16 different suffixes, each of which would change how the numerical date should be generated from the century, and all this in addition to the three prefixes ‘a’,’b’ and ‘c’ that also change the generated date.  Getting this to work was all very complicated, but by the end of the week I had a working version, all of which took up less than 500 lines of JavaScript.  Below is a screenshot of the date builder in action:

Also this week I set up some new user accounts for the Books and Borrowing project, I gave Luca Guariento some feedback about an AHRC proposal, I had to deal with the server and database going down a few times and I added a new publication to the SCOSYA website.

I also updated the DSL test site so that cross references in entries don’t use IDs (as found in the XML) but use ‘slugs’ (as we use on the site).  This required me to write a new API endpoint to return slugs from IDs and to update the JavaScript to find and replace cross reference IDs when an entry is loaded.  I also spoke to Rhona about the launch of the new DSL website, which is possibly going to be pushed back a bit now.

Finally, I made some further tweaks to the Comparative Kingship content management systems for Scottish and Irish placenames.  When I set up the two systems I’d forgotten to add the x-refs section into the form.  The code was all there to handle them, but the section wasn’t appearing.  I therefore updated both Scotland and Ireland so x-refs now appear.  I’d also noticed that some of the autogenerated lists that appear when you type into boxes in the Ireland site(e.g. xrefs) were pointing to the Scotland database and therefore bringing back the wrong data and I fixed this too.

I also added all of the sources from the Kirkcudbrightshire system to the Scotland CMS and replaced the Scotland elements database with the one from KCB as well, which required me to check the elements already associated with names to ensure they point to the same data.  Thankfully all did except the existing name ‘Rhynie’, which was newly added and its ID ended up referencing an entirely different element from the KCB database, but I fixed this.  I also fixed a bug with the name and element deletion code that was preventing things for getting deleted.

Week Beginning 25 January 2021

I headed into the University for the first time this year on Wednesday this week to collect a new iPad that I’d ordered and to get some files from my office.  It was great to see the old place again, but it did take quite a chunk out of my day to travel there and back, especially as I’m still home-schooling either a morning or an afternoon each day at the moment too.

As with last week, I mainly divided my time this week between the Dictionary of the Scots Language, the Anglo-Norman Dictionary and the Books and Borrowing project, with a few other bits and bobs added in as well.  For the DSL I retrieved the source code for my original Scots School Dictionary app from my office so we can host this somewhere on the DSL website.  This is because the DSL have commissioned someone else to make a new School Dictionary app, which launched this week, but doesn’t include an ‘English to Scots’ feature as the old app does, so we’re going to make the old app available as a website for those people who miss the feature.  I also made a few minor tweaks to the main DSL site, and then focussed on adding bibliography search facilities to the new version of the API, a task that I’d begun last week.

I created a new table for the bibliographical data that includes the various fields used for DOST (note, author, editor, date, longtitle etc) and a field for the XML data used for SND.  I then created two further tables for searching, one that contains every author and editor name for each item (for DOST there may be different names in the author, editor, longauthor and longeditor fields while for SND there may be any number of <author> tags) and the other containing every title for each item (DOST may have different text in title and longtitle while SND items can have any number of <title> tags).  These tables allow you to search for any variant author, editor or title and find the item.

I also created two additional fields in the bibliography table that contain the ‘display author’ and ‘display title’.  These are the forms that get displayed in the search results before you click on an item to open the full bibliographical entry.  I then updated the V4 API to add in facilities to search and retrieve the bibliographies.  I didn’t have the time to connect to this API and to implement the search on the Sienna test site, which is something I hope to do next week, but the logic behind the search and display of bibliographies is all there.  There is a predictive search that will be used to generate the autocomplete list, similar to how the live site currently works:  You will be able to select whether your search is for authors, titles or both and when you start typing in some text a list of matching items will appear, e.g. typing in ‘ham’ for authors in both dictionaries will display the following all items containing ‘ham’ and when you select an item this will then perform a search for the specific text.  You will then be able to click on an item to view the full bibliography.  This is a bit different to how the live site currently works, as with these if you enter ‘ham’ and select (for example) ‘Hamilton, J,’ from the autocomplete list you are taken directly to a page that lists all of the items for the author.  However, we can’t do that any more as we no longer have unique identifiers that group bibliographical items by author.  I may be able to do something similar with the page that comes up when you select an author, but this would have to rely on the name to group items together and a name may not be unique.

For the AND I made some tweaks to the website, such as adding a link to the search page if you type some text into the ‘jump to entry’ option and no matching entries are found.  I then spent the rest of my time continuing to develop the new content management system, specifically the pages for managing source texts.  I finished work on this, adding in facilities to add, edit, browse and delete source texts from the database.  I then migrated the DTD to the new site, which is referenced by the editors’ XML editor when they work on the entry XML files.  The DTD on the old server referenced several lists of things that are then used to populate drop-down lists of options in the XML editor.  I migrated these too, making them dynamically generated from the underlying database rather than statis lists, meaning when (for example) new source texts are added to the CMS these will automatically become available when using the XML editor.

For the Books and Borrowing project I participated in the project’s Zoom call on Monday to discuss the project’s CMS and how to amalgamate the various duplicate author records that resulted from data uploads from different libraries.   After the call I made some required changes to the CMS, such as making the editor’s notes fields visible by default again, and worked on the duplicate authors matching script to add in further outputs when comparing the author names with Levenshtein ratings of 1 and 2.  I also reviewed some content that was sent to us from another library.

Also this week I responded to an email from James Caudle in Scottish Literature about a potential project he’s setting up, made a couple of changes to the Scots Language Policy website, made some tweaks to the menu structure for the Scots Syntax Atlas project and gave some advice to a post-grad student who had contacted me about setting up a corpus.

Week Beginning 18th January 2021

I worked on many different projects this week, with most of my time being split between the Dictionary of the Scots Language, the Anglo-Norman Dictionary, the Books and Borrowing project and the Scots Language Policy project.  For the DSL I began investigating adding the bibliographical data to the new API and developing bibliographical search facilities.  Ann Ferguson had sent me spreadsheets containing the current bibliographical data for DOST and SND and I migrated this data into a database and began to think about how the data needs to be processed in order to be used on the website.  At the moment links to bibliographies from SND entries are not appearing in the new version of the API, while DOST bibliographical links do appear but don’t lead anywhere.  Fixing the latter should be fairly straightforward but the former looks to be a bit trickier.

For SND for the live site using the original V1 API it looks like the bibliographical links are stored in a database table and these are then injected into the XML entries whenever an entry is displayed.  A column in the table contains the order the citation appears in the entry and this is how the system knows which bibliographical ID to assign to which link in the entry.  This raises some questions about what happens when an entry is edited.  If the order of the citations in the XML is changed, or a new citation is added then all of the links to the bibliographies will be out of sync.  Plus, unless the database table is edited no new bibliographical links will ever display.  It is possible that the data in bibliographical links table is already out of date and we are going to need to try and find a way to add these bibliographical links into the actual XML entries rather than retaining the old system of storing them separately and then injected then each time the entry is requested.  I emailed Ann for further discussion about these points.  Also this week I made a few updates to the live DSL website, changing the logos that are used and making ‘Dictionary’ in the title plural.

For the AND this week I added in the missing academic articles that Geert had managed to track down and then began focusing on updating the source texts and working with the commentaries for the R data.  The commentaries were sent to me in two Word files, and although we had hoped to be able to work out a mechanism for automatically extracting these and adding them to their corresponding entries it looks like this will be very difficult to achieve with any accuracy.  I concluded that I could split the entries up in Geert’s document based on the ‘**’ characters between commentaries and possibly split Heather’s up based on blank lines.  I could possibly retain the formatting (bold, italic, superscript text etc) and convert this to HTML, although even this would be tricky, time consuming and error-prone.  The commentaries include links to other entries in bold, and I would possibly be able to automatically add in links to other entries based on entries appearing in bold in the commentaries, but again this would be highly error-prone as bold text is used for things other than entries, and sometimes the entry number follows a hash while at other times it’s superscript.  It would also be difficult to automatically ascertain which entry a commentary belongs to as there is some inconsistency here too – e.g. the commentary for ‘remuement’ is listed as ‘[remuement]??’ and there are other occasions where the entry doesn’t appear on its own on a line – e.g. ‘Retaillement xref with recelement’ and ‘Reverdure—Geert says to omit’.  Then there are commentaries that are all crossed out, e.g. ‘resteot’.  We decided that attempting to automatically process the commentaries would not be feasible and instead the editors would add them to the entry XML files manually, adding the tags for bold, italic, superscript and other formatting as required.  Geert added commentaries to two entries to see how this would work and it worked very well.

For the source texts, we had originally discussed the editors editing these via a spreadsheet that I’d generated from the online data last year, but I decided it would be better if I just start work on the new online Dictionary Management System (DMS) and create the means of adding, listing and editing the source texts as the first thing that can be managed via the new DMS.  This seemed preferable to establishing a new, temporary workflow that may take some time to set up and may end up not being used for very long.  I therefore created the login and initial pages for the DMS (by repurposing earlier content management systems I’d created).  I then set up database tables for holding the new source text data, which includes multiple potential items for each source and a range of new fields that the original source text data does not contain.  With this in place I created the DMS pages for browsing the source texts and deleting them, and I’m midway through writing the scripts for editing existing and adding new source texts.  I aim to have this finished next week.

For the Books and Borrowing project I continued to make refinements to the CMS, namely reducing the number of books and borrowers from 500 to 200 to speed up page loads, adding in the day of the week that books were borrowed and returned, based on the date information already in the system, removing tab characters for edition titles as these were causing some issues for the system, replacing the editor’s notes rich text box with a plain text area to save space on the edit page and adding a new field to the borrowing record that allows the editor to note when certain items appear for display only and should otherwise be overlooked, for example when generating stats.  This is to be used for duplicate lines and lines that are crossed out.  I also had a look through the new sample data from Craigston that was sent to us this week.

For the Scots Language Policy project I set up the project’s website, including the user interface, adding in fonts, plugins, initial page structure, site graphics, logos etc.  Also this week I fixed an issue with song downloads on the Burns website (the plugin the controls the song downloads is very old and had broken.  I needed to install a newer version and upgrade the song data for the downloads to work again.  I also continued my email conversation with Rachel Fletcher about a project she’s putting together and created a user account to allow Simon Taylor to access the Ayr Placenames CMS.

Week Beginning 14th December 2020

This was my last week before the Christmas holidays, and it was a four-day week as I’d taken Friday off to use up some unspent holidays.  Despite only being four days long it was a very hectic week, as I had lots of loose ends to tie up before the launch of the new Anglo-Norman Dictionary website on Wednesday.  This included tweaking the appearance of ‘Edgloss’ tags to ensure they always have brackets (even if they don’t in the XML), updating the forms to add line breaks between parts of speech and updating the source texts pop-ups and source texts page to move the information about the DEAF website.

I also added in a lot of the ancillary page data, including the help text, various essays, the ‘history’ page, copyright and privacy pages, the memorial lectures and the multi-section ‘introduction to the AND’.  I didn’t quite manage to get all of the links working in the latter and I’ll need to return to this next year.  I also overhauled the homepage and footer, adding in the project’s Twitter feed, a new introduction and adding links to Twitter and Facebook to the footer.

I also identified and fixed an error with the label translations, which were sometimes displaying the wrong translation.  My script that extracted the labels was failing to grab the sense ID for subsenses.  This ID is only used to pull out the appropriate translation, but because of the failure the ID of the last main sense was being used instead.  I therefore had to update my script and regenerate the translation data.  I also updated the label search to add in citations as well as translations.  This means the search results page can get very long as both labels and translations are applied at sense level, so we end up with every citation in a matching sense listed, but apparently this is what’s wanted.

I also fixed the display of ‘YBB’ sources, which for some unknown reason are handled differently to all other sources in the system and fixed the issue with deviant forms and their references and parts of speech.

On Wednesday we made the site live, replacing the old site with the new one, which you can now access here:  https://anglo-norman.net/.  It wasn’t entirely straightforward to get the DNS update working, but we got there in the end, and after making some tweaks to paths and adding in Google Analytics the site was ready to use, which is quite a relief.  There is still a lot of work to do on the site, but I’m very happy with the progress I’ve made with the site since I began the redevelopment in October.

Also this week I set up a new website for phase two of the ‘Editing Burns for the 21st Century’ project and upgraded all of the WordPress sites I manage to the most recent version.  I also arranged a meeting with Jane Stuart-Smith to discuss a new project in the New Year, replied to Kirsteen McCue about a proposal she’s finishing off, replied to Simon Taylor about a new place-name project he wants me to be involved with and replied to Carolyn Jess-Cooke about a project of hers that will be starting next year.

That’s all for 2020.  Here’s hoping 2021 is not going to be quite so crazy!

Week Beginning 30th November 2020

I took Friday off again this week as I needed to go and collect a new pair of glasses from my opticians in the West End, which is quite a trek from my house.  Although I’d taken the day off I ended up working for about three hours as on Thursday Fraser Dallachy emailed me to ask about the location of the semantically tagged EEBO dataset that we’d worked on a couple of years ago.  I didn’t have this at home but I was fairly certain I had it on a computer in my office so I decided to take the opportunity to pop in and locate the data.  I managed to find a 10Gb tar.gz file containing the data on my desktop PC, along with the unzipped contents (more than 25,000 files) in another folder.  I’d taken an empty external hard drive with me and began the process of copying the data, which took hours.  I’d also remembered that I’d developed a website where the tagged data could be searched and that this was on the old Historical Thesaurus server, but unfortunately it no longer seemed to be accessible.  I also couldn’t seem to find the code or data for it on my desktop PC, but I remembered the previously I’d set up one of the four old desktop PCs I have sitting in my office as a server and the system was running on this.  It took me a while to get the old PC connected and working, but I managed to get it to boot up.  It didn’t have a GUI installed so everything needed to be done at the command line, but I located the code and the database.  I had planned to copy this to a USB stick, but the server wasn’t recognising USB drives (in either NTFS or FAT format) so I couldn’t actually get the data off the machine.  I decided therefore to install Ubuntu Linux on a bootable USB stick and to get the old machine to boot into this rather than run the operating system on the hard drive.  Thankfully this worked and I could then access the PC’s hard drive from the GUI that ran from the USB stick.  I was able to locate the code and the data and copy them onto the external hard drive, which I then left somewhere that Fraser would be able to access it.  Not a bad bit of work for a supposed holiday.

As with previous week’s I split my time mostly between the Anglo-Norman Dictionary and the Dictionary of the Scots Language.  For the AND I finally updated the user interface.  I added in the AND logo and updated the colour schemes to reflect the colours used in the logo.  I’m afraid the colours used in the logo seem to be straight out of a late 1990s website so unfortunately the new interface has that sort of feel about it too.  The header area now has a white background as the logo needs a white background to work.  The ‘quick search’ option is now better positioned and there is a new bar for the navigation buttons.  The active navigation button and other site buttons are now the ‘A’ red, panels are generally the ‘N’ blue and the footer is the ‘D’ green.  The main body is now slightly grey so that the entry area stands out from it.  I replaced the header font (Cinzel) with a Cormorant Garamond as this more closely resembles the font used in the logo.

The left-hand panel has been reworked so that entries are smaller and their dates and right-aligned.  I also added stripes to make it easier to keep your eye on an entry and its date.  The fixed header that appears when you scroll down a longer entry now features the AND logo/  The ‘Top’ button that appears when you scroll down a long entry now appears to the right so it doesn’t interfere with the left-hand panel.  The footer now only features the logos for Aberystwyth and AHRC and these appear on the right, with links to some pages on the left.

I have also updated the appearance of the ‘Try and Advanced Search’ button so it only appears on the ‘quick search’ results page (which is what should have happened originally).  I also removed the semantic tags that were added from the XML but need to be edited out of the XML.  I have also ticked a few more things off my ‘to do’ list, including replacing underscores with spaces in parts of speech and language tags and replacing ‘v.a.’ and ‘v.n’ as requested.  I also updated the autocomplete styles (when you type into the quick search box) so they fit in with the site a bit better.

I then began looking into reordering the citations in the entries so they appear in date order within their senses, but I remembered that Geert wanted some dates to be batch processed and realised that this should be attempted first.  I had a conversation with Geert about this, but the information he sent wasn’t well structured enough to be used and it looks like the batch updating of dates will need to wait until after the launch.  Instead I moved on to updating the source text pop-ups in the entry.  These feature links to the DEAF website and a link to search the AND entries for all others that feature the source.

On the old site the DEAF links linked through to another page on the old site that included the DEAF text and then linked through to the DEAF website.  I figured it would be better to cut out this middle stage and link directly through to DEAF.  This meant figuring out which DEAF page should be linked to and formatting the link so their page jumps to the right place.  I also added in a note about the link under it.

This was pretty straightforward but the ‘AND Citations’ link was not.  On the old site clicking on this link ran a search that displayed the citations.  We had nothing comparable to this developed for the new site.  So I needed to update the citation search to allow the user to search based on the sigla (source text).  This in turn meant updating my citations table to add a field for holding the citation siglum and regenerating the citations and citation search words and then updating the API to allow a citation search to be limited by a siglum ID.  I then updated the ‘Citations’ tab of the ‘Advanced Search’ page to add a new box for ‘citation siglum’.  This is an autocomplete box – you type some text and a list of matching sigla are displayed, from which you can select one.  This in turn meant updating the API to allow the sigla to be queried for this autocomplete.  But for example type in ‘a-n’ into the box and a list of all sigla containing this are displayed.  Select ‘A-N Falconry’ and you can then find all entries where this siglum appears.  You can also combine this with citation text and date (although the latter won’t be much use).

I’ve also tweaked the search results tab on the entry page so that the up and down buttons don’t appear if you’re at the top or bottom of the results, and I’ve ensured if you’re looking at an entry towards the end of the results a sufficient number of results before the one you’re looking at appear.  I’ve also ensured that the entry lemma and hom appear in the <title> of the web page (in the browser tab) so you can easily tell which tab contains which entry.  Here’s a screenshot of the new interface:

For the DSL I spent some time answering emails about a variety of issues.  I also completed my work on the issue of accents in the search, updating the search forms so that any accented characters that a user adds in are converted to their non-accented version before the search runs, ensuring someone searching for ‘Privacé’ will find all ‘privace’ in the full text.  I also tweaked the wording of the search results to remove the ‘supplementary’ text from it as all supplementary items have now either been amalgamated or turned into main entries.  I also put in redirects from all of the URLs for the deleted child entries to their corresponding main entries.  This was rather time consuming to do as I needed to go through each deleted child entry, get each of its URLs, then get the main URL of the corresponding main entry, add these to a new database table and then add a new endpoint to the V4 API that accepts a child URL, then checks the database for any main URL and returns this.  Then I needed to update the entry page so that the URL is passed to this new redirect checking API endpoint and if it matches a deleted item the page needs to redirect to the proper URL.

Also this week I had a conversation with Wendy Anderson about updates to the Mapping Metaphor website.  I had thought these would just be some simple tweaks to the text of existing pages, but instead the site structure needs to be updated, which might prove to be tricky.  I’m hoping to be able to find the time to do this next week.

Finally, I continued to work on the Burns Supper map, adding in the remaining filters.  I also fixed a few dates, added in the introductory text and a ‘favicon’.  I still need to work on the layout a bit, which I’ll hopefully do next week, but the bulk of the work for the map is now complete.

Week Beginning 23rd November 2020

This was a four-day week for me as I had an optician’s appointment on Tuesday, and as my optician is over the other side of the city (handy for work, not so handy for working from home) I decided I’d just take the day off.  I spent most of Monday working on the interactive map of Burns Suppers I’m developing with Paul Malgrati in Scottish Literature.  This week I needed to update my interface to incorporate the large number of filters that Paul wants added to the map.  In doing so I had to change the way the existing ‘period’ filter works to fit in with the new filter options, as previously the filter was being applied as soon as a period button was pressed.  Now you need to press on the ‘apply filters’ button to see the results displayed, and this allows you to select multiple options without everything reloading as you work.  There is also a ‘reset filters’ button which turns everything back on.  Currently the ‘period’, ‘type of host’ and ‘toasts’ filters are in place, all as a series of checkboxes that allow you to combine any selections you want.  Within a section (e.g. type of host) the selections are joined with an OR (e.g. ‘Burns Society’ OR ‘Church’).  Between sections are joined with an AND (e.g. ‘2019-2020’ AND (‘Burns Society’ OR ‘Church’).  For ‘toasts’ a location may have multiple toasts and the location will be returned if any of the selected toasts are associated with the location.  E.g. if a location has ‘Address to a Haggis’ but not ‘Loyal Toast’ it will still be returned if you’ve selected both of these toasts.  I also updated the introductory panel to make it much wider, so we can accommodate some text and also so there is more room for the filters.  Even with this it is going to be a bit tricky to squeeze all of the filters in, but I’ll see what I can do next week.

I then turned my attention to the Dictionary of the Scots Language.  Ann had noticed last week that the full text searches were ‘accent sensitive’ – i.e. entries containing accented characters would only be returned if your search term also contained the accented characters.  This is not what we wanted and I spend a bit of time investigating how to make Solr ignore accents.  Although I found a few articles dealing with this issue they were all for earlier versions of Solr and the process didn’t seem all that easy to set up, especially as I don’t have direct access to the sever that Solr resides on so tweaking settings is not an easy process.  I decided instead to just strip out accents from the source data before it was ingested into Solr, which was a much more straightforward process and fitted in with another task I needed to tackle, which was to regenerate the DSL data from the old editing system, delete the duplicate child entries and set up a new version of the API to use this updated dataset.  This process took a while to go through, but I go there in the end and we now have a new Solr collection set up for the new data, which has the accents and the duplicate child entries removed.  I then updated one of our test front-ends to connect to this dataset so people can test it.  However, whilst checking this I realised that stripped out the accents has introduced some unforeseen issues.  The fulltext search is still ‘accent sensitive’, it’s just that I’ve replaced all accented characters with their non-accented equivalents.  This means an accented search will no longer find anything.  Therefore we’ll need to ensure that any accents in a submitted search string are also stripped out.  In addition, stripping accents out of the Solr text also means that accents no longer appear in the snippets in the search results, meaning the snippets don’t fully reflect the actual content of the entries.  This may be a larger issue and will need further discussion.  I also wrote a little script to generate a list of entry IDs that feature an <su> inside a <cref> excluding those that feature </geo><su> or </geo> <su>.  These entries will need to be manually updated to ensure the <su> tags don’t get displayed.

I spent the remainder of the week continuing with the redevelopment of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary site.  My 51-item ‘to do’ list that I compiled last week has now shot up to 65 items, but thankfully during this week I managed to tick 20 of the items off.  I have now imported all of the corrected data that the editors were working on, including not just the new ‘R’ records but corrections to other letters too.  I also ensured that the earliest dates for entries now appear in the ‘search results’ and ‘log’ tabs in the left-hand panel, and these dates also appear in the fixed header that gets displayed when you scroll down long entries.  I also added the date to the title in the main page.

I added content to the ‘cite this entry’ popup, which now contains the same citation options as found on the Historical Thesaurus site, and I added help text to the ‘browse’, ‘search results’ and ‘entry log’ pop-ups.  I made the ‘clear search’ button right aligned and removed the part of speech tooltips as parts of speech appear all over the place and I thought it would confuse things if they had tooltips in the search results but not elsewhere.  I also added a ‘Try an advanced search’ button at the top of the quick search results page.

I set up WordPress accounts for the editors and added the IP addresses used by the Aberystwyth VPN to our whitelist to ensure that the editors will be able to access the WordPress part of the site and I added redirects that will work from old site URLs once the new site goes live.  I also put redirects in for all static pages that I could find too.  We also now have the old site accessible via a subdomain so we should be able to continue to access the old site when we switch the main domain over to the new site.

I figured out why the entry for ‘ipocrite’ was appearing in all bold letters.  This was caused by an empty XML tag and I updated the XSLT to ensure these don’t get displayed.  I updated Variant/Deviant forms in the search results so they just have the title ‘Forms’ now and I think I’ve figured out why the sticky side panel wasn’t sticking and I think I’ve fixed it.

I updated my script that generates citation date text and regenerated all of the earliest date text to include the prefixes and suffixes and investigated the issue of commentary boxes was appearing multiple times.  I checked all of the entries and there were about 5 that were like this, so I manually fixed them.  I also ensured that when loading the advanced search after a quick search the ‘headword’ tab is now selected and the quick search text appears in the headword search box and I updated the label search so that label descriptions appear in a tooltip.

Also this week I participated in the weekly Iona Placenames Zoom call and made some tweaks to the content management systems for both Iona and Mull to added in researcher notes fields (English and Gaelic) to the place-name elements.  I also had a chat with Wendy Anderson about making some tweaks to the Mapping Metaphor website for REF and spoke to Carole Hough about her old Cogtop site that is going to expire soon.

Week Beginning 16th November 2020

I spent two days each working on updates to the Dictionary of the Scots Language and the redevelopment of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary this week, with the remaining day spent on tasks for a few projects.  For the DSL I fixed an issue with the way a selected item was being remembered from the search results.  If you performed a search, then navigated to a page of results that wasn’t the first page then clicked on one of the results to view an entry this was setting a ‘current entry’ variable.  This was used when loading the results from the ‘return to results’ button on the entry page to ensure that the page of the results that featured the entry you were looking at would be displayed. However, if you then clicked the ‘refine search’ button to return to the advanced search page this ‘current entry’ value would be retained, meaning that when you clicked the search button to perform a new search the results would load at whatever page the ‘current entry’ was located on, if it appeared in the new search results.  As the ‘current entry’ would not necessarily be in the new results set the issue only cropped up every now and then.  Thankfully having identified the issue it was easy to fix – whenever the search form loads as a result of a ‘refine search’ selection the ‘current entry’ variable is now cleared.  It is still retained and used when you return to the search results from an entry page.

I then investigated an issue with citation numbers that will need further input from the editors before moving onto implementing an option that allows you to show or hide the ‘browse’ panel on the right of entries.  I removed the animations when you show and hide either the ‘search’ or ‘browse’ columns as these were proving to be a bit clunky with so much content being shown or hidden.  I also had to rework how the hide button in the ‘search’ column functions in order to get the new options working, but hopefully this hasn’t introduced any issues.  Additionally, I had to make quite a few updates to the stylesheet and the JavaScript to get this to work, as the width of the ‘entry’ column now has double the number of possible values.  Also, I needed to ensure that the entry width with and without the ‘browse’ column worked at all screen dimensions as different styles are called at different screen widths.  Currently the choice of which columns are visible resets every time the entry page loads but I may make the system remember your choice during a session, meaning if you hide the browse column once it will stay hidden.  The change isn’t live yet but only works on one of our test sites, but once I get feedback from the editors I’ll apply it to the live site.

I also had a discussion with the editors about removing duplicate child entries from the data and grabbing an updated dataset from the old editing system one last time.  Removing duplicate child entries will mean deleting several thousand entries and I was reluctant to do so on from the test systems we already have in case anything goes wrong, so I’ve decided to set up a new test version, which will be available via a new version of the API and will be accessible via one of the existing test front-ends I’ve created.  I’ll be tackling this next week.

For the AND I focussed on importing more than 4,500 new or updated entries into the dictionary.  In order to do this I needed to look at the new data and figure out how it differed structurally from the existing data, as previously the editors’ XML was passed through an online system that made changes to it before it was published on the old website.  I discovered that there were five main differences:

  1. <main_entry> does not have an ID, or a ‘lead’ or a ‘unikey’. I’ll need to add in the ‘lead’ attribute as this is what controls that editor’s initials on the entry page and I decided to add in an ID as a means of uniquely identifying the XML, although there is already a new unique ID for each entry in the database.  ‘unikey’ doesn’t seem to be used anywhere so I decided not to do anything about this.
  2. <sense> and <subsense> do not have IDs or ‘n’ numbers. The latter I already set up a script to generate so I could reuse that.  The former aren’t used anywhere as each sense also has a <senseInfo> with another ID associated with it.
  3. <senseInfo> does not have IDs, ‘seq’ or ‘pos’. IDs here are important as they are used to identify senses / subsenses for the searches and I needed to develop a way of adding these in here.  ‘seq’ does not appear to be used but ‘pos’ is.  It’s used to generate the different part of speech sections between senses and in the ‘summary’ and this will need to be added in.
  4. <attestation> does not have IDs and these are needed as they are recorded in the translation data.
  5. <dateInfo> has an ID but the existing data from the DMS does not have IDs for <dateInfo>. I decided to retain these but they won’t be used anywhere.

I wrote a script that processed the XML to add in entry IDs, editor initials, sense numbers, senseInfo IDs, parts of speech and attestation IDs.  This took a while to implement and test but it seemed to work successfully.  After that I needed to work on a script that would import the data into my online system, which included regenerating all of the data used for search purposes, such as extracting cross references, forms, labels, citations and their dates, translations and earliest dates for entries.  All seemed to work well and I made the new data available via the front-end for the editors to test out.

I also asked the editors about how to track different versions of data so we know which entries are new or updated as a result of the recent update.  It turned out that there are six different statements that need to be displayed underneath entries depending on when the entries were published so I spent a bit of time applying these to entries and updating the entry page to display the notices.

After that I made a couple of tweaks to the new data (e.g. links to the MED were sometimes missing some information needed for the links to work) and discussed adding in commentaries with Geert.  I then went through all of the emails to and from the editors in order to compile a big list of items that I still needed to tackle before we can launch the site.  It’s a list that totals some 51 items, so I’m going to have my work cut out for me, especially as it is vital that the new site launches before Christmas.

The other projects I worked on this week included the interactive map of Burns Suppers for Paul Malgrati in Scottish Literature.  Last week I’d managed to import the core fields from his gigantic spreadsheet and this week I made some corrections to the data and created the structure to hold the filters all of the filters that are in the data.

I wrote a script that goes through all of the records in the spreadsheet and stores the filters in the database when required.  Note that a filter is only stored for a record when it’s not set to ‘NA’, which cuts down on the clutter.  There are a total of 24,046 filters now stored in the system.  The next stage will be to update the front-end to add in the options to select any combination of filter and to build the queries necessary to process the selection and return the relevant locations, which is something I aim to tackle next week.

Also this week I participated in the weekly Zoom call for the Iona place-names project and I updated the Iona CMS to strip out all of the non-Iona names and gave the team access to the project’s Content Management system.  The project website also went live this week, although as of yet there is still not much content on it.  It can be found here, though: https://iona-placenames.glasgow.ac.uk/

Also this week I helped to export some data for a member of the Berwickshire place-names project team, I responded to a query from Gerry McKeever about the St. Andrews data in the Books and Borrowing project’s database and I fixed an issue with Rob Maslen’s City of Lost Books site, which had somehow managed to lose its nice header font.