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 14th June 2021

I divided my time this week primarily into three.  Firstly, I wrote a Data Management Plan for Craig Lamont’s proposal.  I can’t really say much about it at this stage, but it took about a day to write, including several email conversations with Craig.

Secondly, I made some updates to the Books and Borrowing CMS.  This took some time to get started on as my access to the Stirling VPN had been cancelled, and without such access I couldn’t access the project’s server.  Thankfully with the help of Stirling’s Information Services people my access was reinstated on Monday and I could start working on the updates.  After familiarising myself with the systems again I had some further questions about the updates suggested by Matt Sangster, resulting in an email conversation and a suggestion by him that he discusses things further with the team next Monday.  Gerry McKeever had suggested some further updates, though, and I worked on these.

The first issue was the ordering of the ‘Books’ tab when viewing a library.  This list of books (of which there can be thousands) is paginated with 200 books per page, with options to order the table by a variety of columns (e.g. book name and number of associated borrowings).  However, the ordering was only ordering the subset of 200 books rather than the whole set.

I updated the page so that the complete dataset is reordered rather than just the 200 records that are displayed per page.  However, this has a massive performance hit that wipes out the page loading speed increase that was gained from paginating the list in the first place.  To reorder the data the page needs to load the entire dataset and then reorder it.  In the case of St Andrews this means that more than 7,200 book records need to be loaded, with multiple sub-queries for each of these records required to bring back the counts of borrowing records and information about book items, book editions and authors.

With the previous paginated way of viewing the data the CMS was taking a couple of seconds to load the ‘Books’ page for St Andrews.  With the new update in place it was taking more than 1 minute and 20 seconds for the page to load.  When running the exact same code and database on my local PC it was taking 10 seconds to load, so presumably the spec of my local PC is considerably better than the server (either that or it’s having to handle a lot of other database requests at the same time, which is affecting performance).

I had considered storing the data in a session variable, which would mean after the first horrendous load time the data would be ready and waiting in the server’s memory to be used until you closed your browser, however, as the data is continuously being worked on this would mean the information displayed would possibly not accurately reflect the current state of the data, which may be confusing.  What I am planning on doing when I develop the front-end is to create a cached version of the data, so counts of borrowing records etc won’t need to be recalculated each time a user queries something, but creating such a cached version wouldn’t really work whilst the data is still being worked on.  I could set the system up to refresh the cache every night, but that would mean the CMS would again not reflect the current state of the data, which isn’t good.  I also updated the ‘Borrowers’ page to allow full reordering of data here too.  This isn’t quite as slow as the books page.

I spoke to the server admin people to see if they could think of a reason why the server loading speed was so much worse that on my local PC.  They reckoned it was because the database is stored on a different server to the code, and the sheer number of individual queries being sent meant that small delays in connecting between servers were mounting up.  I reworked the code somewhat to try and streamline the number of database queries that need to be made.  Only two of the columns can now be selected to order the data by: Book Holding title and number of borrowing records.  I’m hoping these are the most important anyway.  I have updated the queries so that the bulk of the data is only retrieved for the 200 records that are on the visible page (as used to be the case) with only a single query of the holding table and then a further query for each relevant holding record to bring back a count of its borrowing records now being made on the full dataset (e.g. for St Andrews for each of the 7,391 books).  This has made a huge difference and has brought the page loading times back down to a more acceptable few seconds.

Gerry’s second request was that when the book list is limited to a specific register the counts of borrowings updated to reflect this.  I updated the code so that counts of borrowing records on both the ‘Books’ and ‘Borrowers’ tabs get limited to just the selected register and thankfully there was no performance hit associated with this update.

The third project of the week for me was the Anglo-Norman Dictionary.  As mentioned in last week’s lengthy post, I had discovered a fourth version of the texts for the textbase that appear to be the ones that the old site actually used.  I spent most of Tuesday splitting this fourth version of the texts into individual pages and preparing them for display.  They had new issues that needed to be tackled (following the previous process resulted in about 2,000 fewer pages and it turned out that this was caused by some page breaks in the fourth version not having ‘n’ numbers).  By the end of the day I’d managed to get the same number of pages as with my initial version, with the new pages available via the front-end and all working with spacing issues resolved.

I discovered that the weird spacing issue that I had previously thought was an issue with the first version of the texts I was working with had actually been introduced via the ‘Tidy’ library I’d used to remove mismatched opening and closing tags from sections of the XML that I’d split into pages.  It’s really bizarre, but the library was inserting space characters and rearranging existing space characters between tags in a way that completely destroyed the integrity of the data.  After some Googling I came across this item about the issue: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/15147711/php-tidy-removes-whitespace-and-inserts-newlines and a suggested way around the issue is to enclose the XML in a <pre> tag before passing it through the Tidy library, which means the library doesn’t mess about with the layout.  The placement of spaces in a text can be of vital importance so why the library by default messes with spaces and doesn’t even provide an option to stop the library doing so is baffling.  However, the <pre> hack worked, thankfully.

However, on Wednesday I received an email from the editor Geert to say that they had received approval for the AND to display each of the textbase texts in full on one page, rather than being split up into individual pages.  This was great news, but did mean that all my work on splitting up and reformatting the pages was all for nothing.  Still, that’s the way it goes sometimes.  As the week drew to a close I began working on a new version of the textbase, and by the end of the week I had completed a preliminary version of the textbase featuring the full content of each text on one long page.  I have to say it’s a lot easier to use now and is a massive improvement on having to navigate through hundreds of individual small pages.

The contents page is pretty much the same, and still includes a ‘jump to page’ feature, although this now takes you to the relevant section of the long page rather than an individual page.  When you load a text, either by clicking on its title or selecting a page the full text will load.

I added the copyright statement to the top as well as the bottom of the text to make it more visible, and have given it a blue background for a similar reason.  There is also a ‘jump to page’ feature on this page too, which takes you directly to the appropriate section of the text.  I also added an option to show / hide notes so you can hide them to declutter the page a bit.  The individual pages are divided with a horizontal line with the page number centred in the middle of this.  Explanatory notes appear in a grey section at the foot of each page.  There are still some things I need to work on, namely to go through each text to check that the formatting is correct throughout and to fix the footnote numbering and ordering.  I think I have a plan for this, but will need to look into this next week.

Also this week I heard that a proposal involving Jane Stuart-Smith and Eleanor Lawson at QMU that I helped put together last year has been funded and is due to stary in July, which is great news.  I also made a few further tweaks to the Dictionary of the Scots Language and had a chat about some new dictionaries that are going to be added to the site.

Week Beginning 7th June 2021

This week I finished an initial version of the ‘Browse Textbase’ feature for the Anglo-Norman Dictionary. Processing the XML proved to be rather tricky as I couldn’t just use the old XSLT file as it included a lot of stuff that wasn’t needed in the new site (e.g. formatting headers and footers) and gave errors when plugged directly into the new system.  For these reasons I had to adapt the XSLT.  Also, I’d split up the full XML files into chunks for each page, resulting in more than 12,700 chunks.  However, the XML often included elements that extended across pages, and when the content was extracted on a per-page basis this led to an invalid XML structure, as some tags ended up missing their closing tags, or closed without featuring an opening tag.  XSLT only works on valid XML files so I needed to find a way to fix this tag issue.  After some Googling I discovered that there is a PHP extension called Tidy that can take an invalid XML file and fix it.  What this does is to strip out all tags that don’t have an opening or closing tag, which is exactly what I wanted.  I wrote a little script that used the extension, tested it successfully on a few files and then ran all of the 12,700 pages through it.

With a full set of valid XML page files I then began work on the XSLT to display the documents as required.  This has been a very laborious process as I needed to go through each of the 77 documents and check the layout for any issues, and fix these as they cropped up.  With more than 12,700 pages I couldn’t look at each individually, but instead I generally looked at every page of the front matter, and then a random selection of pages in the main body of the text, as generally the structure is more consistent here.  I think this approach has worked well as most formatting issues were to be found in the front matter (e.g. some tables were split across multiple pages and needed table tags to be inserted at the top and bottom).

With regards to the main body of the texts the largest challenge has been getting the explanatory notes to appear correctly, as these had been tagged in at least nine different ways throughout the documents, sometimes with entirely different XML structures and content.  One possible issue is that I dealt with new XML features as they cropped up as I worked through the books, but in dealing with these features I may have inadvertently messed up how things looked in earlier books.  One example that I thankfully spotted is that I wanted <bibl> tags to start on a new line as this would make the bibliographies easier to read, but other texts have the <bibl> tag mid-sentence and my change resulted in lines breaking where they shouldn’t.

There are some other issues that have cropped up that we may still need to address.  There are many spacing issues caused by whoever tagged the documents not leaving spaces between tags, or adding spaces between tags where there shouldn’t be spaces.  It’s a bit of a strange issue as it doesn’t seem to exhibit itself on the old site, but isn’t something that is dealt with by the scripts I have access to.  I don’t know if perhaps the texts were ‘fixed’ at some point and I just don’t have access to the fixed versions.  It’s not something that can be fixed automatically (at least not without coming up with a set of rules for fixing) as it’s not always the case that a tag should always have (or not have) a space after it.  Here are some examples, with the text as displayed before the colon and the XML after:

  1. ‘M cMoroug’: M <hi rend=”sup”>c</hi>Moroug
  2. ‘Lettres et pétitions( Legge’: <title lang=”FR” rend=”italic”>Lettres et p&#xE9;titions</title>( <editor>Legge</editor>
  3. ‘CDqui’: <title type=”MS”>CD</title>qui
  4. ‘( 17et 22)’: ( <ref target=”D1396_17″>17</ref>et <ref target=”D1396_22″>22</ref>)
  5. ‘n o2’: n <hi rend=”sup”>o</hi>2</ref>
  6. ‘Sire’: <hi rend=”bold”>S</hi>ire
  7. ‘T hepresent’: T <hi rend=”sc”>he</hi>present
  8. ‘Le xxx eiour ‘: Le xxx <hi rend=”sup”>e</hi>iour

Another issue is that the speed of loading a page is erratic.  Sometimes it’s instant, other times it takes several agonising seconds.  It’s really frustrating, and it’s not caused by my code.  I’m hoping when we get the new server (which we now have a quote for) this issue will resolve itself.  Also, Some of the pages are split at different points in two texts.  This must be due to the structure of the XML.  However, despite this all of the content is still included.                In addition, a couple of texts in the old system were broken – either the navigation just did not work or page contents were displaying multiple times.  I’m afraid I didn’t make a note of which these were, but they’re all sorted in the new system anyway.

There are currently some issues with footnote numbers due to all of the different ways these are tagged (sometimes with multiple ways being used on a single page).  Some examples:

  1. If multiple ways of tagging are used in the same page this can result in footnotes appearing out of order. This can be because some notes are <note> and others are <app>.  This is also causing some issue with the numbering as well (e.g. there are two [1] footnotes but the first listed should actually be [3].  This clearly needs some work, but I’m not sure how best to fix the issue.  On the old site notes of different types are given letters, but I’m not sure which letters to use for what, and if we want to continue using letters.
  2. In some places note numbers are being displayed where they weren’t previously being displayed. I’m not sure what should be done about this – I could for example add in an option to show / hide the notes.
  3. I’ve ensured all footnotes appear on a new line rather than having some that run on one line and others (sometimes in the same page) that have their own line.
  4. Sometimes an extended form of a footnote number appears where one didn’t previously (e.g. ‘[p2n5]’ rather than just ‘[5]’).
  5. Sometimes multiple notes appear straight after each other, and currently in such cases the numbering appears correctly in the text, but in the footnotes the first number in the line is duplicated. For example [2] and [3] in the text appear as [2] and [2] in the footnotes.

After spending a lot of time over the past two weeks working through the XML texts and wondering why the old site doesn’t display the spacing errors found in the texts I had access to, I did some further investigation into this.  It would appear that the old site uses different versions of the XML files to the ones I’ve been using.  I’m not sure why there are multiple versions of the XML files, but I’ve discovered that there are XML files in the ‘reduce’ folder that Heather gave me access to a couple of weeks ago, and these are different to the ones I have been using and must have been stored somewhere else on the server.

For example, the file ‘kingscouncil.xml’ that I have been using exhibits the spacing issue, see for example ‘M <hi rend=”sup”>c</hi>Moroug‘ and ‘xxx <hi rend=”sup”>e</hi>jour’ in this snippet:


<p> <hi lang=”LA” rend=”italic”>indorsacio</hi>. Eient les supplians la garde et la mariage dedens cestes contenues, selonc la purport de ceste peticion, pour xx. s. vi. d. appaier en le Haneper pur le fyn, par les lettres patentes notre Seignour le Roy souz son grant seel en Irland en due fourme. Doune a Dyvelyn le xxx <hi rend=”sup”>e</hi>jour Doctobre, lan notre dit Seignour le Roy Richard Seconde seszisme. <anchor id=”P4A1″ type=”note”/> <note place=”foot” target=”P4A1″>The <date>30th of October 1392</date>. The regnal years of this king commenced on the <date>22nd of June</date>in each year. Here, and elsewhere throughout the Roll, the year of the present style is used, but no rectification of the day of the month has been attempted.</note>A tresreverent pere <anchor id=”P4A2″ type=”note”/> <note place=”foot” target=”P4A2″>As letters patent were to issue, Robert Archbishop of Dublin, Chancellor of Ireland, must have been the person here addressed. See enrolment No. 15, <hi rend=”italic”>infra</hi>.</note>&amp;c., comme desus.</p> <div n=”2″> <p> <note place=”omargin”> <date>A.D. 1392</date> </note>A tresnobles Justice et Consel notre Seignour le Roy en Irland supplie Johan Creef de Ballaghmoun, que comme sa ville, sa mansion, ses blees et diverses autres benes furent arses, degastes et destruys par M <hi rend=”sup”>c</hi>Moroug et autres Irrois enemys notre Seignour le Roy, comme est comme est cognuz et notifie a vous, tresnobles</p> </div>


But in the ‘reduce’ folder there are two further versions of this (and all) textbase files.  One is named ‘kingscouncil.xml’ but is different to the one I’ve been using.  It has different TEIHeader data and doesn’t exhibit the spacing issue, see for example:


<p><hi lang=”LA” rend=”italic”>indorsacio</hi>. Eient les supplians la garde et la mariage dedens cestes contenues, selonc la purport de ceste peticion, pour xx. s. vi. d. appaier en le Haneper pur le fyn, par les lettres patentes notre Seignour le Roy souz son grant seel en Irland en due fourme. Doune a Dyvelyn le xxx<hi rend=”sup”>e</hi> jour Doctobre, lan notre dit Seignour le Roy Richard Seconde seszisme.<anchor id=”P4A1″ type=”note”/><note place=”foot” target=”P4A1″>The <date>30th of October 1392</date>. The regnal years of this king commenced on the <date>22nd of June</date> in each year. Here, and elsewhere throughout the Roll, the year of the present style is used, but no rectification of the day of the month has been attempted.</note> A tresreverent pere<anchor id=”P4A2″ type=”note”/><note place=”foot” target=”P4A2″>As letters patent were to issue, Robert Archbishop of Dublin, Chancellor of Ireland, must have been the person here addressed. See enrolment No. 15, <hi rend=”italic”>infra</hi>.</note> &amp;c., comme desus.</p></div>

<div n=”2″><p><note place=”omargin”><date>A.D. 1392</date></note> A tresnobles Justice et Consel notre Seignour le Roy en Irland supplie Johan Creef de Ballaghmoun, que comme sa ville, sa mansion, ses blees et diverses autres benes furent arses, degastes et destruys par M<hi rend=”sup”>c</hi>Moroug et autres Irrois enemys notre Seignour le Roy, comme est comme est cognuz et notifie a vous, tresnobles


Finally, there is a further version named ‘kingscouncil-apps.xml’ that appears to be just the text (no TEIHeader), again doesn’t exhibit the spacing issue, but in addition seems to use different tags in places.  See the tag around ‘indorsacio’, for example:


<p><term lang=”LA” rend=”i”>Indorsacio</term>. Eient les supplians la garde et la mariage dedens cestes contenues, selonc la purport de ceste peticion, pour xx. s. vi. d. appaier en le Haneper pur le fyn, par les lettres patentes notre Seignour le Roy souz son grant seel en Irland en due fourme. Doune a Dyvelyn le xxx<hi rend=”sup”>e</hi> jour Doctobre, lan notre dit Seignour le Roy Richard Seconde seszisme.<anchor id=”P4A1″ type=”note”/><note place=”foot” target=”P4A1″>The <date>30th of October 1392</date>. The regnal years of this king commenced on the <date>22nd of June</date> in each year. Here, and elsewhere throughout the Roll, the year of the present style is used, but no rectification of the day of the month has been attempted.</note> A tresreverent pere<anchor id=”P4A2″ type=”note”/><note place=”foot” target=”P4A2″>As letters patent were to issue, Robert Archbishop of Dublin, Chancellor of Ireland, must have been the person here addressed. See enrolment No. 15, <hi rend=”italic”>infra</hi>.</note> &amp;c., comme desus.</p></div>

<div n=”2″><p><note place=”omargin”><date>A.D. 1392</date></note> A tresnobles Justice et Consel notre Seignour le Roy en Irland supplie Johan Creef de Ballaghmoun, que comme sa ville, sa mansion, ses blees et diverses autres benes furent arses, degastes et destruys par M<hi rend=”sup”>c</hi>Moroug et autres Irrois enemys notre Seignour le Roy, comme est comme est cognuz et notifie a vous, tresnobles


So yet again the old site has me wanting to tear my hair out in exasperation at how badly organised, maintained and thought out it is.  It’s looking like I’ll have to replace all of the content I’ve been working on over the past couple of weeks with different versions.  But the question is which version?  Should it be the ‘apps’ version or the other version?  I realise now that the ‘apps’ version is referenced in the URLs used by the old site.  However, what is confusing is the ‘apps’ version doesn’t include the front-matter, but this is included in the old site, meaning it can’t be purely using the ‘apps’ version of the XML.  Even more strangely, the ‘kingscouncil.xml’ file in ‘reduce’ folder has a different structure to the version published on the old site, which is in fact closer to the version of the XML I have been using.  On the old site the first page begins:


“[p.xxvi]

INTRODUCTION.

[…]

Whether the Roll…”


But the ‘reduce’ version of ‘kingscouncil.xml’ includes two previous pages:


<pb n=”ix”/><div lang=”EN” type=”Introduction”><head>INTRODUCTION.</head>

<pb n=”xxv”/><p>It may be mentioned here that the folios are all mounted on linen guards, and that no part of the parchment has been inserted into the back, and none cut away at the fore-edge, top, or bottom, of the volume.</p>

<pb n=”xxvi”/><p>Whether the Roll…


Whereas the XML I’ve been using matches the published text:


<pb n=”xxvi” ed=”base”/><div lang=”EN” type=”Introduction”><head>INTRODUCTION.</head>

<p>[…]</p>

<p>Whether the Roll…


I had been intending to extract pages from the non-apps files in the ‘reduce’ folder and to present these alongside the existing pages in the front-end so the editors could look at them, but I’m encountering difficulties right from the start.  The first XML file in the data I originally had is ‘albus.xml’, which I expected to find as ‘albus-apps.xml’, yet there is no such file in the ‘reduce’ folder, nor a non-app ‘albus.xml’ file.  There are files called ‘libalbapp.xml’ and ‘libalbapp-apps.xml’, which would seem to correspond to the AND Source reference (Lib_Alb).  However, the contents of these files in no way correspond to the contents of the ‘albus.xml’ file I have and nor do they correspond to the text that is displayed on the old site at the above URL.

I can only conclude that there is yet another version of the files stored in another location that the old site uses.  It’s definitely not the same file as I have been using as the text on the old site has the spacing issue corrected.  I have done a ‘find in files’ for certain strings found in the ‘Albus’ text across all files in the ‘reduce’ folder and the text is definitely not found there.  It’s very confusing as the scripts suggest they are processing files only in this folder.  The script ‘and-getloc’ uses the variable ‘filename’ from the URL and passes this to the script ‘and-fetcher’ in the ‘reduce’ folder.  This in turn loads the file, finds and processes the required page.

As I was working through this I managed to figure things out.  It looks like I was right – there is yet another version of the files stored somewhere else that the old system actually uses.  Buried towards the end of the ‘and-fetcher’ script is this:

##############################################

## TODO !!!!

## HARDCODED TEXTS LOCATION HERE!

## SHIFT THIS TO CONSTANTS SYSTEM!!!

##

my $textpath = “/and/reduce/ready1/$text”;

##

##############################################

So the texts that are used are in a folder called ‘ready1’ within the ‘reduce’ folder.  However, there were no subfolders in the zip file of the ‘reduce’ folder that Heather sent me a couple of weeks ago.  If we can somehow track down this fourth(!) version of the files then perhaps I’ll be able to make some progress.  Heather managed to get access to the server again and located the additional folder, which did indeed include yet another version of the XML files.  It looks like this fourth version is the correct version.  It would appear to be the files that appear on the old website, including correction of spacings and all front matter (despite all files ending in ‘apps’, whereas the other ‘apps’ versions didn’t include the front matter).  Looking at the files discussed above:

The file ‘albus-apps.xml’ is present and includes all front-matter the same as both the file I was previously working with and the old site, but with spacing issues fixed.  The file ‘kingscouncil-apps’ also appears to be structurally identical to the ‘kingscouncil’ file I was originally working with (unlike the other two versions in ‘reduce’) and has the spacing issues fixed (e.g. M<hi rend=”sup”>c</hi>Moroug).

So now I’ll be able to begin again with the process I started a couple of weeks ago.  It’s going to take some time again, although hopefully most of the XSLT issues will be the same as before and will already be sorted.

Also this week I read through the bib documentation for Craig Lamont’s project and had a chat with him about a data management plan, which I’ll have to work on next week.  I also fixed a couple of issues on the SCOCO website for Matthew Creasy and spoke to Mike Black about the quote for a new server, which will hopefully be purchased soon.  I gave some advice to Katie Halsey about file formats and data transfer options for a new digitisation unit that will be working with the Books and Borrowing project, and also spent some time trying to sort out access to the server at Stirling for this project as it turned out that my access privileges had been removed midway through last month.

I also fixed an issue with the bibliography search on the new DSL website.  This was occurring when a search for ‘author or title’ was performed, which prefixes ‘Author: ‘ or ‘Title: ‘ to each entry in the autocomplete to help users differentiate between the two.  Selecting from the autocomplete list ran the search fine as this was based on the bibliographical ID hidden in the autocomplete, but if you pressed the ‘search’ button before the event was fired the search was looking for the full contents of the box – i.e. looking for authors and titles that begin with ‘Author: ‘ or ‘Title: ‘.  This was also happening if you pressed the browser’s back button from the results as the textbox would still then contain the full text.  I fixed this issue.  So it’s been a pretty busy week.

Week Beginning 31st May 2021

It was the late May bank holiday on Monday, so this was a four-day week.  On Tuesday I decided to try working at my office at the University – my first full day back at my office since the first lockdown began.  All went very smoothly; I didn’t meet anyone in the building and it seemed very quiet on campus generally.  The only issue was the number of updates my computer had to install, which caused some delays.  I’m probably going to try and come back to work on Tuesdays on a semi-regular basis now to see how things go.

I had some discussions with Marc and Arts IT Support this week about the possibility of purchasing a new server, and some progress is being made there.  I also responded to a query regarding the Scots Syntax Atlas that Jennifer Smith forwarded on to me and spoke to Roslyn Potter about a project that a lecturer in History is needing a website for.

Other than these tasks I spent the week continuing to work on the Textbase feature of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary.  Last week I’d left off with the infrastructure in place to browse texts, display the raw XML of pages and navigate between pages.  My task for this week was to ensure that the XML displayed properly.  This proved to be rather tricky as although I had managed to get access to the XSLT file that the Textbase on the old site used to transform the XML to HTML, it included a lot of stuff that wasn’t needed in the new site (e.g. formatting headers and footers) and also gave errors when plugged directly into the new system.  For these reasons I had to adapt the XSLT.  Also, I’d split up the full XML files into chunks for each page, resulting in more than 12,000 chunks.  However, the XML often included elements that extended across pages, and when the content was extracted on a per-page basis this led to an invalid XML structure, as some tags ended up missing their closing tags, or closed without featuring an opening tag.  XSLT only works on valid XML files so I needed to fid a way to fix this tag issue.  After some Googling I discovered that there is a PHP extension called Tidy (https://www.php.net/manual/en/intro.tidy.php) that can take an invalid XML file and fix it.  What this does is to strip out all tags that don’t have an opening or closing tag, which is exactly what I wanted.  I wrote a little script that used the extension, tested it successfully on a few files and then ran all of the 12,000 pages through it.

With a full set of valid XML page files I then began work on the XSL to display the documents as required.  This has been a very laborious process as I needed to go through each of the more than 70 documents and check the layout for any issues, and fix these as they cropped up.  With more than 12,000 pages I couldn’t look at each individually, but instead took a random selection, a process that’s is working pretty well so far.  The largest challenge was getting the explanatory notes to appear correctly, as these had been tagged in at least eight different ways throughout the documents, sometimes with entirely different XML structures and content.  So far all is looking good, and I’m about halfway through checking the documents.  I’ll continue with this task next week.

Week Beginning 24th May 2021

I had my first dose of the Covid vaccine on Tuesday morning this week (the AstraZeneca one), so I lost a bit of time whilst going to get that done.  Unfortunately I had a bit of a bad reaction to it and ended up in bed all day Wednesday with a pretty nasty fever.  I had Covid in October last year but only experienced mild symptoms and wasn’t even off work for a day with it, so in my case the cure has been much worse than the disease.  However, I was feeling much better again by Thursday, so I guess I lost a total of about a day and a half of work, which is a small price to pay if it helps to ensure I don’t catch Covid again and (what would be worse) pass it on to anyone else.

In terms of work this week I continued to work on the Anglo-Norman Dictionary, beginning with a few tweaks to the data builder that I had completed last week.  I’d forgotten to add a bit of processing to the MS date that was present in the Text Date section to handle fractions, so I added that in.  I also updated the XML output so that ‘pref’ and ‘suff’ only appear if they have content now, as the empty attributes were causing issues in the XML editor.

I then began work on the largest outstanding task I still have to tackle for the project: the migration of the textbase texts to the new site.  There are about 80 lengthy XML digital editions on the old site that can be searched and browsed, and I need to ensure these are also available on the new site.  I managed to grab a copy of all of the source XML files and I tracked down a copy of the script that the old site used to process the files.  At least I thought I had.  It turned out that this file actually references another file that must do most of the processing, including the application of an XSLT file to transform the XML into HTML, which is the thing I really could do with getting access to.  Unfortunately this file was no in the data from the server that I had been given access to, which somewhat limited what I could do.  I still have access to the old site and whilst experimenting with the old textbase I managed to make it display an error message that gives the location of the file: [DEBUG: Empty String at /var/and/reduce/and-fetcher line 486. ].  With this location available I asked Heather, the editor who has access to the server, if she might be able to locate this file and others in the same directory.  She had to travel to her University in order to be able to access the server, but once she did she was able to track the necessary directory down and get a copy to me.  This also included the XSLT file, which will help a lot.

I wrote a script to process all of the XML files, extracting titles, bylines, imprints, dates, copyright statements and splitting each file up into individual pages.  I then updated the API to create the endpoints necessary to browse the texts and navigate through the pages, for example the retrieval of summary data for all texts, or information about a specified texts, or information about a specific page (including its XML).  I also began working on a front-end for the textbase, which is still very much in progress.  Currently it lists all texts with options to open a text at the first available page or select a page from a drop-down list of pages.  There are also links directly into the AND bibliography and DEAF where applicable, as the following screenshot demonstrates:

It is also possible to view a specific page, and I’ve completed work on the summary information about the text and a navbar through which it’s possible to navigate through the pages (or jump directly to a different page entirely).  What I haven’t yet tackled is the processing of the XML, which is going to be tricky and I hope to delve into next week.   Below is a screenshot of the page view as it currently looks, with the raw XML displayed.

I also investigated and fixed an issue the editor Geert spotted, whereby the entire text of an entry was appearing in bold.  The issue was caused by an empty <link_form/> tag.  In the XSLT each <link_form> becomes a bold tag <b> with the content of the link form in the middle.  As there was no content it became a self-closed tag <b/> which is valid in XML but not valid in HTML, where it was treated as an opening tag with no corresponding closing tag, resulting in the remainder of the page all being bold.  I got around this by placing the space that preceded the bold tag “ <b></b>” within the bold tag instead “<b> </b>” meaning the tag is no longer considered empty and the XSLT doesn’t self-close it, but ideally if there is no <link_form> then the tag should just be omitted, which would also solve the problem.

I also looked into an issue with the proofreader that Heather encountered.  When she uploaded a ZIP file with around 50 entries in it some of the entries wouldn’t appear in the output, but would just display their title.  The missing entries would be random without any clear reason as to why some were missing.    After some investigation I realised what the problem was:  each time an XML file is processed for display the DTD referenced in the file was being checked.  When processing lots of files all at once this was exceeding the maximum number of file requests the server was allowing from a specific client and was temporarily blocking access to the DTD, causing the processing of some of the XML files to silently fail.  The maximum number would be reached at a different point each time, thus meaning a different selection of entries would be blank.  To fix this I updated the proofreader script to remove the reference to the DTD from the XML files in the uploaded ZIP before they are processed for display.  The DTD isn’t actually needed for the display of the entry – all it does is specify the rules for editing it.  With the DTD reference removed it looks like all entries are getting properly displayed.

Also this week I gave some further advice to Luca Guariento about a proposal he’s working on, fixed a small display issue with the Historical Thesaurus and spoke to Craig Lamont about the proposal he’s putting together.  Other than that I spent a bit of time on the Dictionary of the Scots Language, creating four different mockups of how the new ‘About this entry’ box could look and investigating why some of the bibliographical links in entries in the new front-end were not working.  The problem was being caused by the reworking of cref contents that the front-end does in order to ensure only certain parts of the text become a link.  In the XML the bib ID is applied to the full cref, (e.g. <cref refid=”bib018594″><geo>Sc.</geo> <date>1775</date> <title>Weekly Mag.</title> (9 Mar.) 329: </cref>) but we wanted the link to only appear around titles and authors rather than the full text.  The issue with the missing links was cropping up where there is no author or title for the link to be wrapped around (e.g. <cit><cref refid=”bib017755″><geo>Ayr.</geo><su>4</su> <date>1928</date>: </cref><q>The bag’s fu’ noo’ we’ll sadden’t.</q></cit>).  In such cases the link wasn’t appearing anywhere.  I’ve updated this now so that if no author or title is found then the link gets wrapped around the <geo> tag instead, and if there is no <geo> tag the link gets wrapped around the whole <cref>.

I also fixed a couple of advanced search issues that had been encountered with the new (and as yet not publicly available) site.  There was a 404 error that was being caused by a colon in the title.  The selected title gets added into the URL and colons are special characters in URLs, which was causing a problem.  However, I updated the scripts to allow colons to appear and the search now works.  It also turned out that the full-text searches were searching the contents of the <meta> tag in the entries, which is not something that we want.  I knew there was some other reason why I stripped the <meta> section out of the XML and this is it.  The contents of <meta> end up in the free-text search and are therefore both searchable and returned in the snippets.  To fix this I updated my script that generates the free-text search data to remove <meta> before the free-text search is generated.  This doesn’t remove it permanently, just in the context of the script executing.  I regenerated the free-text data and it no longer includes <meta>, and I then passed this on to Arts IT Support who have the access rights to update the Solr collection.  With this in place the advanced search no longer does anything with the <meta> section.

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 10th May 2021

I continued to work on updates to the Anglo Norman Dictionary for most of this week, looking at fixing the bad citation dates in entries that were causing the display of ‘earliest date’ to be incorrect.  A number of the citation dates have a proper date in text form (e.g. s.xii/xiii) but have incorrect ‘post’ and ‘pre’ attributes (e.g. ‘00’ and ‘99’).  The system uses these ‘post’ and ‘pre’ attributes for date searching and for deciding which is the earliest date for an entry, and if one of these bad dates was encountered it was considering it to be the earliest date.  Initially I thought there were only a few entries that had ended up with an incorrect earliest date, because I was searching the database for all earliest dates that were less than 1000.  However, I then realised that the bulk of the entries with incorrect earliest dates had the earliest date field set to ‘null’ and in database queries ‘null’ is not considered less than 1000 but a separate thing entirely and so such entries were not being found.  I managed to identify several hundred entries that needed their dates fixed and wrote a script to do so.

It was slightly more complicated than a simple ‘find and replace’ as the metadata about the entry needed to be regenerated too – e.g. the dates extracted from the citations that are used in the advanced search and the earliest date display for entries.  I managed to batch correct several hundred entries using the script and also adapted it to look for other bad dates that needed fixing too.

I also created a new feature for the Dictionary Management System: an entry proofreader.  It allows an editor to attach a ZIP file containing XML entries and it then displays all of these in a similar manner to the live site, only with all entries on one long page.  The editor can then select all of the text, copy it and then paste it into Word and the major formatting elements will be retained (bold, italic, superscript etc.).  I tested the feature by zipping up 3,178 XML entries and although it took a few minutes to process, the page displayed properly and I was able to copy the text to Word (resulting in a 1,029 page Word file).  After finishing the initial version of the script I had to tweak it a bit, as I wrote the HTML and JavaScript with the expectation that there would be one dictionary item on the page and some aspects were not working when there were multiple items and needed updating.  I also ensured that links to sources in entries work.  In the actual dictionary they open a pop-up, which clearly isn’t going to work in Word so instead I made the link go to the relevant item in the bibliography page (e.g. https://anglo-norman.net/bibliography/B#bib-Best).  Links to other dictionaries, labels and other AND entries also all now work from Word.

In addition, cogrefs appear before variants and deviants, commentaries appear (as full text, not cut off), Xrefs at the bottom now have the ‘see also’ text above them as in the live site, editor initials now appear where they exist and numerals only appear where there is more than once sense in a POS.

Also this week I did some further work for the Dictionary of the Scots Language based on feedback after my upload of data from the DSL’s new editing system.  There was a query about the ‘slug’ used for referencing an entry in a URL.  When the new data is processed by the import script the ‘slug’ is generated from the first <url> entry in the XML.  If this <url> begins ‘dost’ or ‘snd’ it means a headword is not present in the <url> and therefore the new system ID is taken as the new ‘slug’ instead.  All <url> forms are also stored as alternative ‘slugs’ that can still be used to access the entry.  I checked the new database and there are 3258 entries that have a ‘slug’ beginning with ‘dost’ or ‘snd’, i.e. they have the new ID as their ‘slug’ because they had an old ID as their first <url> in the XML.  I checked a couple of these and they don’t seem to have the headword as a <url>, e.g. ‘beit’ (dost00052776) only has the old ID (twice) as URLs: <url>dost2543</url><url>dost2543</url>, ‘well-fired’ (snd00090568) only has the old ID (twice) as URLs: <url>sndns4098</url><url>sndns4098</url>.  I’ve asked the editors what should be done about this.

Also this week I wrote a script to generate a flat CSV from the Historical Thesaurus’s relational database structure, joining the lexeme and category tables together and appending entries from the new ‘date’ table as additional columns as required.  It took a little while to write the script and then a bit longer to run it, resulting in a 241MB CSV file.

I also gave some advice to Craig Lamont in Scottish Literature about a potential bid he’s putting together, and spoke to Luca about a project he’s been asked to write a DMP for.  I also looked through some journals that Gerry Carruthers is hoping to host at Glasgow and gave him an estimate of the amount of time it would take to create a website based on the PDF contents of the old journal items.

Week Beginning 19th April 2021

It was a return to a full five-day week this week, after taking some days off to cover the Easter school holidays for the previous two weeks.  The biggest task I tackled this week was to import the data from the Dictionary of the Scots Language’s new editing system into my online system.  I’d received a sample of the data from the company responsible for the new editing system a couple of weeks ago, and we had agreed on a slightly updated structure after that.  Last week I was sent the full dataset and I spent some time working with it this week.  I set up a local version of the online system on my PC and tweaked the existing scripts I’d previously written to import the XML dataset generated by the old editing system.  Thankfully the new XML was not massively different in structure to the old set, and different mostly in the addition of a few new attributes, such as ‘oldid’ that referenced to old ID of each entry, and ‘typeA’ and ‘typeB’, which contain numerical codes that denote which text should be displayed to note when the entry was published.  With changes made to the database to store these attributers and updates to the import script to process them I was ready to go, and all 80,432 DOST and SND entries were successfully imported, including extracting all forms and URLs for use in the system.

I had a conversation with the DSL team about whether my ‘browse order’ would still be required, as the entries now appear to be ordered nicely by their new IDs.  Previously I ran a script to generate the dictionary order based on the alphanumeric characters in the headword and the ‘posnum’ that I generated based on the classification of parts of speech taken from a document written by Thomas Widmann when he worked for the DSL (e.g. all POS beginning ‘n.’ have a ‘posnum’ of 1, all POS beginning ‘ppl. adj.’ have a ‘posnum’ of 8).  Although the new data is now nicely ordered by the new ID field I wanted to check whether I should still be generating and using my browse order columns or whether I should just order things by ID.  I suggested that going forward it will not be possible to use the ID field as browse order, as whenever the editors add a new entry its ID will position it in the wrong place (unless the ID field is not static and is regenerated whenever a new entry is added).  My assumption was correct and we agreed to continue using my generated browse order.

In a related matter my script extracts the headword of each entry from the XML and this is used in my system and also to generate the browse order.  The headword is always taken to be the first <f> of type “form” within <meta> in the <entry>.  However, I noticed that there are five entries that have no <f> of type “form” and are therefore missing a headword, and are appearing first in the ‘browseorder’ because of this.  This is something that still needs to be addressed.

In our conversations, Ann Ferguson mentioned that my browse system wasn’t always getting the correct order where there were multiple identical headwords all within the same generate part of speech.  For example there are multiple noun ‘point’ entries in DOST – n. 1, n. 2 and n. 3.  These were appearing in the ‘browse’ feature with n. 3 first.  This is because (as per Thomas’s document) all entries with a POS starting with ‘n.’ are given a ‘posorder’ of 1.  In cases such as ‘point’ where the headword is the same and there are several entries with a POS beginning ‘n.’ the order is then set to depend on the ID, and ‘Point n.3’ has the lowest ID, so appears first.  I therefore updated the script that generates the browse order so that in such cases entries are ordered alphabetically by POS instead.

I also regenerated the data for the Solr full-text search, but I’ll need Arts IT Support to update this, and they haven’t got back to me yet.  I then migrated all of the new data to the online server and also created a table for the ‘about’ text that will get displayed based on the ‘typeA’ and ‘tyepB’ number in the entry.  I then created a new version of the API that uses the new data and pulls in the necessary ‘about’ data.  When I did this I noticed that some slugs (the identifier that will be used to reference an entry in a URL) are still coming out as old IDs because this is what is found in the <url> elements.  So for example the entry ‘snd00087693’ had the slug ‘snds165’.  After discussion we agreed that in such cases the slug should be the new ID, and I tweaked the import script and regenerated the data to make this the case.  I then updated one of our test front-ends to use the new API, updating the XSLT to ensure that the <meta> tag that now appears in the XML is not displayed and updating bibliographical references and cross references to use the new ‘refid’ attribute.  I also set up the entry page to display the ‘about’ text, although the actual placement and formatting of this text still needs to be decided upon. I then moved on to the bibliographical data, but this is going to take a bit longer to sort out, as previous bib info was imported from a CSV.

Also this week I read through and gave feedback on a data management plan for a proposal Marc Alexander in involved with and created a new version of the DMP for the new metaphor proposal that Wendy Anderson is involved with.  I also gave some advice to Gerry Carruthers about hosting some journal issues at Glasgow.

For the Books and Borrowing project I made some updates to the data of the 18th Century Borrowers pilot project, including fixing some issues with special characters, updating information relating to a few books and merging a couple of book records.  I also continued to upload the page images of the Edinburgh registers, finishing the upload of 16 registers and then generating the page records for all of the pages in the content management system.  I then started on the St Andrews registers.

I also participated in a Zoom call about GIS for the place-names of Iona project, where we discussed the sort of data and maps that would appear in the QGIS system and how this would relate to the online CMS, and also tweaked the Call of Papers page of the website.

Finally, I continued to make updates to the content management systems for the Comparative Kingship project, adding in Irish versions of the classifications and some of the labels, changing some parishes, adding in the languages that are needed for the Irish system and removing the unnecessary place-names that were imported from the GB1900 dataset.  These are things like ‘F.P.’ for ‘footpath’.  A total of 2,276 names, with their parish references, historical forms and links to the OS source were deleted by a little script I wrote for the purpose.  I think I’m up to date with this project for the moment, so next week I intend to continue with the DSL bibliographical data import and to return to working on the Anglo-Norman Dictionary.

Week Beginning 22nd March 2021

I continued to develop the ‘Dictionary Management System’ for the Anglo-Norman Dictionary this week, following on with the work I began last week to allow the editors to drag and drop sets of entry XML files into the system.  I updated the form to add in another option underneath the selection of phase statement called ‘Phase Statements for existing records’.  Here the editor can choose whether to retain existing statements or replace them.  If ‘retain’ is selected then any XML entries attached to the form that either have an existing entry ID in their filename or have a slug that matches an existing entry in the system will retain whatever phase statement the existing entry has, no matter what phase statement is selected in the form.  The phase statement selected in the form will still be applied to any XML entries attached to the form that don’t have an existing entry in the system.  Selecting ‘replace existing statements’ will ignore all phase statements of existing entries and will overwrite them with whatever phase statement is selected in the form.  I also updated the system so that it extracts the earliest date for an entry at the point of upload.  I added two new columns to the holding area (for earliest date and the date that is displayed for this) and have ensured that the display date appears on the ‘review’ page too.  In addition, I added in an option to download the XML of an entry in the holding area, if it needs further work.

I ran a large-scale upload test, comprising of around 3,200 XML files from the ‘R’ data to see how the system would cope with this, but unfortunately I ran into difficulties with the server rejecting too many requests in a short space of time and only about 600 of the files made it through.  I asked Arts IT Support to see whether the server limits can be removed for this script, but haven’t heard anything back yet.  I ran into a similar issue when processing files for the Mull and Ulva place-names project in January last year and Raymond was able to update the whitelist for the Apache module mod_evasive that was blocking such uploads and I’m hoping he’ll be able to do something similar this time.  Alternatively, I’ll need to try and throttle the speed of uploads in the browser.

In the meantime, I continued with the scripts for publishing entries that had been uploaded to the holding area, using a test version of the site that I set up on my local PC to avoid messing up the live database.  I updated the ‘holding area’ page quite significantly.  At the top of the page is a box for publishing selected items, and beneath this is the table containing the holding items.  Each row now features a checkbox, and there is an option above the table to select / deselect all rows on the page (so currently up to 200 entries can be published in one batch as 200 is the page limit).    The ‘preview’ button has been replaced with an ‘eye’ icon but the preview page works in the same way as before.  I was intending to add the ‘publish’ options to this page but I’ve moved this to the holding area page instead to allow multiple entries to be selected for publication at any one time.

Selecting one or more items for publication and then pressing the ‘publish selected holdings’ button runs some JavaScript that grabs the ID of each holding item and then submits this to a script on the server via AJAX, and the server-side script then processes each selected item for publication in turn.  I limited the processing of this to one item per second to hopefully avoid the server rejecting requests.  Rather a lot happens when an item is published: The holding item is copied to the live entry table and then its XML is analysed to extract and store for search purposes: Citations, attestation dates and word counts of every word in each citation; translations and word counts of every word in each translation; semantic and usage labels (including adding new labels to the system if the XML contains new ones); word forms and their types (lemma, variant, deviant); parts of speech; cross references in xref entries.

If there is an existing live entry that matches the current entry (either because of the stored ‘Existing ID’ or because it has the same slug as the holding item) then this entry is deactivated in the database, its XML is copied to the ‘history’ table and associated with the new item record and all search data for the live entry as mentioned above is deleted.  At this point the holding item record is deleted and the server-side script finishes executing, returning its output to the JavaScript, which then adds a row to the ‘publication log’ on the holding entries page; decreases the count of the number of holding entries on the page by one and removes the row containing the holding item from the table on the page.

Once all of the selected items are published there is one final task that the page performs, which is to completely regenerate the cross references data.  This is something that unfortunately needs to be done after each batch (even if it’s only one record) because cross references rely on database IDs and when a new version of an existing entry is published it receives a new ID.  This means any existing cross references to that item will no longer work.  The publication log will state that the regeneration is taking place and then after about 30 seconds another statement will say it is complete.  I tested this process on my local PC, publishing single items, a few items and entire pages (200 items) at a time and all seemed to be working fine so I then copied the new scripts to the server.

Also this week I continued with the processing of library registers for the Books and Borrowing project.  These are coming in rather quickly now and I’m getting a bit of a backlog.  This is because I have to download the image files, then process then to generate tilesets, and then upload all of the images and their tilesets to the server.  It’s the tilesets that are the real sticking point, as these consist of thousands of small files.  I’m only getting an upload speed of about 70KB/s and I’m having to upload many gigabytes of data.  I did a test where I zipped up some of the images and uploaded this zip file instead and was getting a speed of around 900KB/s and as it looks like I can get command-line access to the server I’m going to investigate whether zipping up the files, then uploading them then unzipping them will be a quicker process.  I also had to spend some time sorting out connection issues to the server as the Stirling VPN wasn’t letting me connect.  It turned out that they had switched to multi-factor authentication and I needed to set this up before I could continue.

Also this week I wrote a summary of the work I’ve done so far for the Place-names of Iona project for a newsletter they’re putting together, spoke to people about the new ‘Comparative Kingship’ place-names project I’m going to be involved with, spoke to the Scots Language Policy people about setting up a mailing list for the project(it turns out that the University has software to handle this, available here: https://www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/it/emaillists/) and fixed an issue relating to the display of citations that have multiple dates for the DSL.

Week Beginning 1st February 2021

I had two Zoom calls this week, the first on Wednesday with Kirsteen McCue to discuss a new, small project to publish a selection of musical settings to Burns poems and the second on Friday with Joanna Kopaczyk and her RA on the Scots Language Policy project to give a tutorial on how to use WordPress.

The majority of my week was divided between the Anglo-Norman Dictionary, the Dictionary of the Scots Language and the Place-names of Iona projects.  For the AND I made a few tweaks to the static content of the site and migrated some more blog posts across to the new site (these are not live yet).  I also added commentaries to more than 260 entries, which took some time to test.  I also worked on the DTD file that the editors reference from their XML editing software to ensure that all of the elements and attributes found within commentaries are ‘allowed’ in the XML.  Without doing this it was possible to add the tags in, but this would give errors in the editing software.  I also batch updated all of the entries on the site to reference the new DTD and exported all of the files, zipped them up and sent them to the editors so they can work on them as required.  I also began to think about migrating the TextBase from the old site to the new one, and managed to source the XML files that comprise this system.  It looks like it may be quite tricky to work with these as there are more than 70 book-length XML files to deal with and so far I have not managed to locate the XSLT that was originally used to process these files.

For the DSL I completed work on the new bibliography search pages that use the new ‘V4’ data.  These pages allow the authors and titles of bibliographical items to be searched, results to be viewed and individual items to be displayed.  I also made some minor tweaks to the live site and had a discussion with Ann Fergusson about transferring the project’s data to the people who have set up a new editing interface for them, something I’m hoping to be able to tackle next week.

For the Place-names of Iona project I had a discussion about implementing a new ‘work of the month’ feature and spent quite a bit of time investigating using 10-digit OS grid references in the project’s CMS.  The team need to use up to 10-digit grid references to get 1m accuracy for individual monuments, but the library I use in the CMS to automatically generate latitude and longitude from the supplied grid reference will only work with a 6-digit NGR.  The automatically generated latitude and longitude are then automatically passed to Google Maps to ascertain the altitude of the location and all of this information is stored in the database whenever a new place-name record is created or an existing record is edited.

As the library currently in use will only accept 6-digit NGRs I had to do a bit of research into alternative libraries, and I managed to find one that can accept NGRs of 2,4,6,8 or 10 digits.  Information about the library, including text boxes where you can enter an NGR and see the results can be found here: http://www.movable-type.co.uk/scripts/latlong-os-gridref.html along with an awful lot of description about the calculations and some pretty scary looking formulae.

The library is written in JavaScript, which runs in the client’s browser, whereas the previous library was written in PHP, which runs on the server.  This means I needed to change the way the CMS works – previously you’d enter an NGR and then when the form was submitted to the server the PHP library would generate the latitude and longitude whereas now the latitude and longitude need to be generated in the browser as soon as the NGR is entered into the textbox, and two further textboxes for latitude and longitude will appear in the form and will then be automatically populated with the results.

 

This does mean the person filling out the form can see the generated latitude and longitude and also tweak it if required before submitting the form, which is a potentially useful thing.  I may even be able to add a Google Map to the form so you can see (and possibly tweak) the point before submitting the form, but I’ll need to look into this further.  I also still need to work on the format of the latitude and longitude as the new library generates them with a compass point (e.g. 6.420848° W) and we need to store them as a purely decimal value (e.g. -6.420848) with ‘W’ and ‘S’ figures being negatives.

However, whilst researching this I discovered a potentially worrying thing that needs discussion with the wider team.  The way the Ordnance Survey generates latitude and longitude from their grid references was changed in 2014.  Information about this can be found in the page linked to above in the ‘Latitude/longitudes require a datum’ section.  Previously the OS used ‘OSGB-36’ to generate latitude and longitude, but in 2014 this was changed to ‘WGS84’, which is used by GPS systems.  The difference in the latitude / longitude figures generated by the two systems is about 100 metres, which is quite a lot if you’re intending to pinpoint individual monuments.

The new library has facilities to generate latitude and longitude using either the new or old systems, but defaults to the new system.  I’ve checked the output of the library we currently use and it uses the old ‘OSGB-36’ system.  This means all of the place-names in the system so far (and all those for the previous projects) have latitudes and longitudes generated using the now obsolete (since 2014) system. To give an example of the difference, the place-name A’ Mhachair in the CMS has this location: https://www.google.com/maps/place/56%C2%B019’33.2%22N+6%C2%B025’11.4%22W/@56.3258889,-6.422022,582m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d56.325885!4d-6.419828 and with the newer ‘WGS84’ system it would have this location: https://www.google.com/maps/place/56%C2%B019’32.7%22N+6%C2%B025’15.1%22W/@56.325744,-6.4230367,582m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d56.325744!4d-6.420848

So what we need to decide before I replace the old library with the new one in the CMS is whether we switch to using ‘WGS84’ or we keep using ‘OSGB-36’.  As I say, this will need further discussion before I implement any changes.

Also this week I responded to a query from Cris Sarg of the Medical Humanities Network project, spoke to Fraser Dallachy about future updates to the HT’s data from the OED, made some tweaks to the structure of the SCOSYA website for Jennifer Smith, added a plugin to the Editing Burns site for Craig Lamont and had a chat with the Books and Borrowing people about cleaning the authors data, importing the Craigston data and how to deal with a lot of borrowers that were excluded from the Selkirk data that I previously imported.

Next week I’ll be on holiday from Monday to Wednesday to cover the school half term.