After several months of seeming silence on this project, it’s well worth an update on progress and future plans. First, I apologize that there has been radio silence- the truth is that I have largely set this project aside (out of necessity) while I’ve working on other projects (working on an article/paper for the Canadian Nautical Research Society conference, amongst other things). Recently however, my work schedule has shifted which means I have more days off in a row, and I have been able to clear away some of the items on my various to-do lists. This bodes well for providing space to focus on this project for a day or two in the next few weeks. With my excuses out of the way, it’s worth having a look at how each phase is doing.
Part 1: Document Transcription
At the moment, I have about 13 reports ready to upload. There are 7 “Additions/Removals” reports, two “fleet list” report, and four “Deployment List” reports. This is in addition to 7 reports already uploaded on the site. I am using a Google spreadsheet to track the transcriptions. This makes an approximately total of 20 of 306 reports transcribed. I had been overly optimistic in how long I would be able to focus on these documents and how quickly I would be able to get them all transcribed. That said, I’m also devoutly thankful to Dr Darren Layne, and to Valla McLean, who have been helping me with the transcriptions. Thanks to Darren, the “Additions/Removals” lists are all ready to be uploaded- (well, the transcription side of things). Thanks to Valla, I have an increasing number of “Deployment Lists” (which make up the *vast* majority of the total number of reports in these two volumes). I have been working on the “Fleet List” reports- and I can largely adapt each month from the previous month- however- this requires a lot of double checking with numbers, and to be honest I’ve had problems with excel turning “n.10” (as in n feet and 10 inches) into “N.1”, which is not *nearly* the same thing.
Part 2: Document Uploading
This is where the real problem is. As I discussed in a previous post, I use PHP scripts to go through the .csv files line-by line. The “Deployment List” script is the first one I wrote- and, unfortunately, it’s the one that’s been updated the least. In addition to that – because of Darren’s work with the “Addition/Removal” lists, we’ve added extra columns (for “Persons mentioned” and “locations mentioned”) – but outside the other categories) and with Valla’s work on the Deployment lists, we’ve had to add the “locations mentioned” column to that as well- which means that my scripts are now out of date. I also have not completely sorted out how the database is going to work for the “Addition/Removal” lists because they are substantially different than the other reports- for example they can’t really be dealt with on a line-by-line basis. As a result, I need to do some more planning before I can actually update all of the upload scripts to make sure they all use the same functions. That way, when I need to update things, I can do so in a single file rather than in every individual script.
Part 3: The Front End
This past week, I fixed a major problem with the website, that resulted from when I tried to learn AJAX and implement it so that one could choose a report to look at, and change the report without the page reloading. I did not have the time to learn AJAX properly and get it to work, and I unfortunately left it in a half-done state that broke the website when things were updated. Since fixing that, I have no realized that when going from choosing the query to refining the data, the website is actually very slow. I need to spend some time working on the front-end to make it faster, more efficient, and easier to use.
The To-Do List
The first priority must be fixing the upload scripts, and uploading all the reports that are transcribed. This includes building the currently non-existent structure for the additions/removals lists. After that, I’m going to try to figure out how to make the front-end faster (and this will be a discussion for a future blog on the front-end design). I’m also going to make completing the transcriptions of the “Fleet List” reports a higher priority. I hope to have all the reports in the ADM 8 v1 & 2 transcribed by April 1, 2019.