Week Beginning 6th January 2014

So here we are at the end of the first week back after the Christmas holidays.  I began this year as I ended the last one – by working on the redevelopment of the Scottish Words and Place-Names website.  I have now successfully moved all required content from the old website to the new one, and have set up a nice new interface to the glossary database.  I have also made the page design ‘resposnsive’, for the most part.  Carole, Ellen and I had a chat about the content of the discussion forum and we agreed that there wasn’t really anything in the forum that was worth keeping online – all necessary content had already fed into the glossary or appeared in other forms elsewhere such as through Facebook or Twitter.  With the forum out of the way and new input forms for words and place-names created we were ready to replace the old website with the new one, which should now be available here:


I also spent some time this week working on the redevelopment of the DSL website. This has included participating in some email correspondences with Ann and Peter, sorting out some server-level stuff with Chris McGlashan and getting to grips with the XML structure of the DSL entries, which has included thinking about how best to transform the entries into HTML.  Peter and I agreed that the API should export entries as XML (well, as XML embedded in a larger JSON file) and then the front-end would then use an XSLT stylesheet to transform this into the correct format for display.  Ann sent me a handy document detailing the major XML elements that appear in the entries and how she would like them to be displayed and hopefully it should be pretty straightforward to create an XSLT file that will be able to handle these requirements.

I attended a meeting of the newly started SAMUELS project on Tuesday morning, which was a good opportunity to hear about the project and meet the participants from Lancaster.  I’m not actually going to be involved very much in this project until the second phase begins in July, but it was still useful to hear how things will be proceeding, especially as the Lancaster team will be using the HT data exported from the MySQL database that I set up.

On Thursday I attended a project meeting for the Mapping Metaphor project, which was especially useful this time as I am getting back into the development of the visualisations now after a couple of months off the project.  Ellen had a great idea of plotting metaphor connections on a timeline to show when they were first recorded, and using the data in such a manner should be relatively easy to implement as I have had quite a bit of previous experience with both of the timeline software libraries that Ellen had been looking at (Simile and Timeglider), the former during my time working for the University Archives and the latter while investigating timelines for the Burns project.  I will be looking at setting up a metaphor timeline using one of these solutions in the next few weeks.  I also got back into working with d3 and my previous test visualisations this week, setting up a new bit of webspace to work on a proper version of the visualisations and spending a fair bit of time going through all of my test code, deleting stuff that was no longer needed and rationalising what needs to be kept.  It’s looking a lot tidier now, even though the end result still looks identical.  I also removed the ‘select time period’ slider from this version as we are no longer going to include this facility in the main visualisations – that is what the timeline will be used for instead.

Next week I aim to continue working with the mapping metaphor visualisations and the development of the new DSL website – unless anything else crops up!

Week Beginning 16th December 2013

A very short report this week as I was on holiday on the Monday, Thursday and Friday.  This is my last week before Christmas and I will be back in the office the week beginning the 6th of January.  About half of my available time this week (i.e. a day!) was spent on the Scottish Words and Place-Names project.  I arranged with Chris to set up a temporary domain where a new version of the project website will be located until we turn the existing website off.  I also met with Carole to go through the updates to the content and structure that I will be implementing.  On Wednesday I made a start on the task of migrating the content across from the old site and setting up a new version of the Place-Name glossary.

Other than SWAP stuff, I spent a little time reviewing the documents Ann Ferguson sent as a result of the DSL meeting last week and I spent a small amount of time on Mapping Metaphor matters.  Tuesday afternoon was spent at the ‘Digital Innovations’ event arranged by Fraser Rowan and Arts Lab.  There were two main sessions, the first gave attendees the opportunity to hear from people at Glasgow Life about some of the digital developments that have been taking place across museums, archives, libraries and beyond.  It was really interesting to hear some of the things that have been going on, such as the redevelopment of their online presences, the use of apps and interactives, and the development of new resources such as the Glasgow Life photo library.  The second session gave people within the University who are involved in innovative digital projects relating to the public sector the opportunity to discuss their work, and again this was a very interesting session, with presentations from people involved in the Hunterian and the archives amongst other projects such as Mapping Metaphor.

That’s all there is to report for this year.  I’ll be back the week of the 6th.  Have a great Christmas and New Year!

Week beginning 9th December 2013

Another short week this week as I had taken Monday and Friday off as holiday.  I attended a further meeting with the SLD people in Edinburgh on Thursday to discuss the redevelopment of the Dictionary of the Scots Language.  It was a very useful meeting where we discussed both the webhosting agreement and the development of the API and the website as well.  We decided on a number of improvements and amendments to the webhosting agreement and hopefully both parties will be in a position to sign it in the next few weeks.  It was also really useful to talk to their developer, Peter Bell, again about the API.  We discussed the API requirements document that I had circulated in June and agreed on the functionality that the API should include.  Peter should hopefully be able to send me some sample output content soon as well (in JSON and XML format) and this will allow me to proceed with the development of the front end – eventually replacing these ‘stub’ output files with actual content generated from the API.

Other than preparing for and attending the DSL meeting I spent a bit of time updating various Burns related things, including updating the other ‘non-T4 but looks like T4’ Burns project that didn’t have quite the right layout or correct menus.  It can be accessed here:


I also set up a new ‘Word of the Week’ feature on the Editing Burns for the 21st Century website.  Jonathan, one of the PhD students, is going to be writing blog posts each week about a word and its usage by Burns, and the structure for this is now in place and can be viewed at the bottom of the homepage:


There were also some discussions this week about the Scottish Words and Place-Names website, which was launched in 2009 but has been exhibiting some stability problems due to the underlying architecture of the site.  It was agreed that I would spend a little time redeveloping this website, which I aim to start on next week, if I have time.