I always seem to start blogs about the ADM8 Project with “it’s been a long time”.
And indeed, it has. However, (however), this time I have some excellent news to report, and that is that the Transcription Interface is up and running and working properly, at least for the deployment reports. In fact, in the three months since I first started writing this post, I have almost continually been making upgrades to it. Thankfully, I’ve had Prof Larry Hartzell transcribing documents for me, and together we’ve been making many upgrades to the transcription interface- but also to the research interface as well. In addition, we’re getting close to having 50 reports live. (An arbitrary number, really, but a major step forward).
The Research Interface
I’ve been putting so much work into the Transcription Interface (to make uploading easier) that I had been- until recently- neglecting the research interface side of things. Luckily, and thanks to my friends on Twitter- I was able to find plug-ins to accomplish two major goals for the research side of things. First is the provision of maps/illustrations to show the location of ships (for reports that include location). Second is the inclusion of the images of the documents so that a reseacher could visually compare the transcription to the document.
At the moment, this is as far as the changes are going to happen for the research interface (at least in terms of major changes). This may change as I create more functions/things for researchers to do. For the map, I used the Leaflet plugin. For the photos, I used the NextGenGallery plugin. Since the research interface (and in fact, most of my code) works around WordPress rather than user wordpress it was slightly difficult to get the Leaflet to work- but thankfully I was able to get in touch with the developer and they helped me write some code that got things to work. (It was some medium-level wordpress stuff that I’d know if I was writing a plugin but most WordPress users certainly don’t need to know). Other minor changes that I’ve incorporated include things like properly organizing the results returned from the database. (I didn’t realize that when viewing results for single ship/person/location that they hadn’t been in chronological order).
I do have a few small coding tasks to do- to make it easier to go from looking the records of individual ships/officers/locations to viewing whole reports (a function I broke and have not yet fixed). That said this is pretty much what I had in mind when I came up with this project. Which is great, because it means that coding-wise I can focus on the *other* types of reports so that I can get them transcribed as well.
The Transcription Interface
As I mentioned above, most of my effort has gone into the Transcription interface since I’ve been wanting to make it much easier and faster to upload files. First, there were several issues with the interface as it was not working properly (for example, with fields not being saved properly despite testing).
I’ve also taken steps that have -well while they’ve actually added steps, they now make the interface less crowded. Previously, for the Deployment Reports, all the different types of lines (subtitles, abstracts, and regular ship deployment lines) were all on the same page. So people who were doing the transcriptions had to scroll past a bunch of lines to get to what they wanted to do- or they had to put in the text and then scroll down to the bottom of the page. What I’ve done instead is changed things so that after every line, a transcriber chooses what they want to do next- in terms of what kind of line. And that brings up just the fields they need.
New additions include things like having the entirety of the already-transcribed lines at the top of the page, so the transcriber can see what they’ve already done. I also finally realized how to code the functions to allow transcribers to correct transcription mistakes, and also how to copy lines from previous reports into a new report. I wrote a new function that uploads the existing information in a single line in the database to be uploaded into the transcription interface. This allows the entries to be changed- or not- as necessary. LIkewise, I’ve create functions that very much speed up the process off adding latitude/longitude for locations, and for uploading the photos that are displayed in the research interface. For the latter,I figured out it was possible to use shortcodes to add Galleries at the bottom of the page- and so each report is associated with a Gallery code. As I make reports live, I upload the photos and add the gallery id. It’s much, much faster than going through phpMyAdmin.
It seems to me the next big push- coding wise- has to be on getting another report type ready to go. Either Fleet Lists or Officer Lists, since there are many fewer of them.