Ramping Up to the Presentation and What Comes After

In preparation for presenting, the ZUC group made all the last changes to the site and transition from test site to live site. Unfortunately, the transition was for front-end configurations only, and several small (but important) changes had to be changed manually. This includes changing the default setting for objects, entities, and collections so that they are automatically made public after imported into the catalog. This had been done before on the test site with Eric’s help. Unfortunately, that session was not documented and I encountered an issues when trying to recreate Eric’s process, a major one.

What needed to be done was to navigate to the UI Editor Screen, and to add the “User Access” element to the screen. (Pictured)

Unfortunately, what I did instead was to change the “Role Access” to the UI Editor Screen so that the Admin had the ability to edit elements on said screen. (Pictured)

Somehow, having done this, I also made the system remove the UI Editor screen from its “default” collection of screens (pictured), which is a huge problem considering this screen controls all other UI screens including those for editing objects and collections.

And the result was.. not pretty.

This was the error I got when trying to access ANY UI editor screen. Very. Bad.

I quickly got in contact with Eric who told me that there was no option but to roll back the database. Luckily, I had done a backup during the transition from test to live site. When trying to do a rollback, I encountered an error (pictured) but, after a few attempts and a little bit of “just waiting to see if anything changes,” it worked!

So, I then followed the correct instructions for setting default access to objects, entities, and collections. However, this did not work as expected. But, at least I managed to recover from a big whoopsie, so I’m not complaining. This can be resolved at a later time.


After the presentation was done, I focused my attention towards making this project a cornerstone of possible job applications for the future. To do this, I created a short and simple Digital Project Representation in PDF format to briefly explain what the Zine Union Catalog is, what it does, and to highlight my work in its development. (See below.)


Now, all that’s left is the NEH grant proposal and the personal essay.

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end/line — Week 12 Journal

Today’s the final day. I’ve been putting the finishing touches on things and figuring out exactly what I’m going to say at the presentation tonight. I still want to go through the code and put in some comments to make parsing it easier in the future, but there’s still time for that.

Along with some input from the rest of the team, Greg has been working on the front-end and getting the little details finished. It’s just been minor writing issues and additions. The actual running of the site has been perfect from what I gather. The final version of the site is now up and running.

I think the presentation is going to go well tonight. I’m confident that we have a great project and everyone will step up and do what they need to do.

Good luck to the other team too!

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end/line: the last weeks

The choice to separate community management and technical developement of end/line has been very useful: in this way, these two aspects – both fundamental – worked in parallel, reaching their goals.

The technical developement team did an excellent job in the last weeks: both Brian and Greg contributed to build an app that could now be defined as reliable. Tom was able to take advantage of the feedback we received from our first testers to modify the homepage layout in order to better explain the sense of end/line.

The relevance of feedback is indeed fundamental, in this moment: every feedback helps us to improve the app’s flaws. I managed three different sessions of testing during the last weeks: I chose to divide the testers in three different groups, and to set up three tests. Each group was allowed to test the app for one week, and then to release the feedback.

Being the great part of the testers members of academia, we already knew that this period of the year was not the best for them. Anyway, we received new feedbacks from them.

The presentation of end/line will take place tomorrow, so I am now reviewing my part. I will describe how we created and managed our community of potential users: I will briefly describe how we contacted them, the process that allowed us to find more than 20 people interested in testing the app, and the feedbacks we already received from them.

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ZUC – Switch from test to live site

This week Marti and I made some final adjustments to the Zine Union Catalog in terms of user interface. Once we felt comfortable that the site’s look and flow was consistent with our goals, we set a deadline for the switch of all accepted changes to the live site. The deadline was on Saturday 5-13, which gave us time to troubleshoot before the presentation and to import the records at our next meeting which is scheduled for Monday, 5-15.

The transition involved moving theme-related files only including the css and configuration files of the front-end to the live version of the site. The initial step was downloading a backup of the site; This was done by making a copy of the theme’s contents through the file manager directly in the site’s back-end and by downloading an image of the site through cPanel. After we created a list of all the pages that experienced changes on the test site, we transferred the theme folder using cPanel.

There was a small discrepancy after the transfer took place but, after clearing cache and cookies, I confirmed that it was a browser issue. The site had been successfully moved. In fact, after the switch took place, I noticed that the fields in the “contact’ page had been stretched unintentionally. Marti confirmed that this happened after he had done work on the search bar on the landing page. We then identified the issue: the search bar and the fields in the contact page were calling the same element, so when Marti adjusted the size for the landing page, it also changed for the contact page. The issue was then resolved.

The last step, as mentioned above, is to import the records into the live site which will be done during our next meeting.

I believe that this stage in the development of the ZUC was relatively simple because of the limited work we had done — a larger project would, I imagine, would not have been approached in the same way. I believe that using GitHub would be the ideal solution for keeping track of changes made to the site and would have allowed for a more precise method of copying changes from the test site to the live version. Unfortunately, despite the fact that I was interested in learning GitHub, its implementation did not make it into the ZUC development timetable. It will likely be necessary as the project grows, and it will certainly be an aspect of development that I will incorporate into my workflow, provided that I have the opportunity.

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end/line Weekly Diary: 14 May

Currently, I’m focused on preparing everything for our presentation on Wednesday. This past week, I built out a Google Slides template that incorporates our visual identity—it uses our color scheme, typography, and logo—and scaffolds the presentation by discussing its humanistic origins, providing a demo, and explaining the process of technology decisions and community building that went into end/line.

At the same time, however, I’m also focused on preparing everything that comes after the presentation. We have, for example, our NEH Digital Advancement Grant proposal to complete by 26 May. With this task, I’m trying to learn from my previous mistakes (see “Letting go…” in our 7 May group post for more reflection on this) and collaborate with my team members. Michael has edited the initial draft, Greg has added an innovation statement and will review (with Brian) the data management plan. Everyone has invested a good deal of work this semester, and can articulate certain aspects of the grant proposal better than I can.

I’ve had to pause some other items, however, to accomplish the items above. Greg put together a compelling, fluid “How It Works” page that embeds some screen recordings I edited to show potential users how to search, upload, encode, validate, submit, and compare—the site’s six major features or functions. The front-end framework for the page is fantastic and modern, but I need to build out the copy a bit more. Ditto, with the “Contact” page. (Maybe these are two good summer projects.) And I haven’t even had the chance to review some of the additional feedback that Iuri has received from our beta testers.

Anyways, it’s important and necessary (as project lead and manager) to prioritize our end-of-the-semester tasks. Still, I can’t wait to keep moving this project forward, regardless of whether or not I’m in school.

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end/line blog 5/13

For the website, the last bit of code I had to make sure fit was the “How It Works” page. I figured out how to import TL’s YouTube videos through easy iframe embeds, but the challenge was getting it to play nice across screen resolutions. After a couple of different attempts and consulting the Bootstrap/jquery gods on StackExchange, I finally scaled it nicely for most common resolutions (sorry 2009 netbooks, you’re out of here). I added a quick note to the FAQ section that links to that page, and as for the front end, I think it’s officially done for the beta phase.

For the presentation, the one thing I must make sure of (and something I set a reminder for) is to have something prepopulated when I give a demonstration of the product. The four points of the product went well: upload, search, encode and compare (in that order). I think I’m going to stick to that for the presentation where I show the upload screen, do a search, view a poem, look to encode it, have a “mock” encoding ready (and show the validator fail once), and compare the results. Once that’s done, I’m home free.

At the moment, I’m taking care of whatever grant items TL throws my way, and I’m on standby for any last minute work that BH might have for the website.


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end/line Group Post: 14 May

Welp, next Wednesday is it. We’re getting excited to present our work to a larger audience, but we still have some last-minute items to address.

Presentation. This week’s in-class rehearsal went slightly better than the previous week’s. We have a well-defined deck that incorporates our visual identity (color scheme, typography, and logo) and clearly delineates the numerous and diverse contributions that made this project. At the same time, however, we can definitely hone our presentation skills further. As this Wednesday’s class approached 6:15, I was furiously recording Lisa’s feedback on our scaffolding, demoing, and public presenting skills. We clocked in at eleven minutes (by my count), though I expect that to expand slightly as we all focus on slowing down and elaborating on the 17th.

XML Validation. “What schema does end/line validate against,” was one question from beta testing, and, since we received this, Brian has been interested in building a more sophisticated XML validation feature. This has been difficult. Jeremy helped us troubleshoot during Wednesday’s class, but he also concluded that we’d need a true, technically-gifted TEI expert to help us solve our problems. Fortunately, Brian had already built a good feature that determines whether or not an encoding has valid XML. We’ll leave the more sophisticated work for the future.

The NEH Grant. Though I attempted to re-use as much of my initial proposal as possible for this, it has become clear that we need to devote more time towards our end-of-the-semester NEH grant proposal. Obviously, we’ll need to follow the NEH’s formatting guidelines (I moved the document from GitHub to Google Drive to make this easier), but we’ll also need to improve our narrative, advocate for our budget, and anticipate objections to our approach. This will be a full group effort, and one to focus on intensely after our presentation.

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ZUC – Looking Back

In making the presentation, I’m now having to look back and review some of the accomplishments – as well as goals – that the ZUC project had. The practice presentation showed me how important it is to really distill the major points of the project for maximum effect. I was having issues with actually deciding what I thought would be valuable and accessible to a general audience. Luckily, Lisa and Jojo provided valuable advice on the overall message and what was missing.

Thus, whereas I had originally planned to provide a case for why we used Collective Access, I will not be using my portion of the presentation to talk about how the catalog actually works. This includes the comparison between the map, the metadata, and the site’s UI (something that, admittedly, our group desperately needed in the early weeks of development). I will also hammer the point that this is a catalog that works with multiple institutions – the raison d’etre of ZUC is to make one site for all these records. The role of the maps will be the main sticking point with how such a site can be achieved.

I will also talk about what the mapping meant in terms of limitations on which metadata fields we will use and, in turn, which fields will be available (as of the initial prototype) for users of the site itself. The flow of information will be guided by the initial challenge of one site with the content of multiple disparate sources; it will then lead into the answer, i.e. the ZUC team creating a plan for focusing on using only the essential elements of the metadata; the result will be a simple map that will dictate the structure of how an institution should export their data so that it conforms to our schema. Such a flow provides a goal, a problem, and the proposed solution.


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end/line — Week 11 Journal

The last big thing to work on is making the XML validation script more robust. I’ve been trying to bring in official TEI XSDs and DTDs, but I’ve been running into some issues with getting the schemas to work. That might just have to do with my inexperience with those file formats, so I’m going to talk with the rest of the group today to see if they know anything more.

It seems like the XSDs and DTDs I got from the TEI website are not formatted properly. I’ve been using a JavaScript module wrapped around something called xmllint. From what I’ve found, xmllint is pretty widely used for XML schema validation. I’ve tried a few different XSDs and found that some work and some don’t. It appears like it’s all on TEI here.

I hope that I can work something out to make these function properly. Otherwise, I’m just going to have to stick with the old script that I wrote before.

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end/line weekly diary (week of 5/7)

At this point I’ve given up on figuring out which diary number this is, and I think I’ll settle with this.

On my plate for this final week is working with Tom to get the How it Works page up and running using the template we have for it now, and finalizing how the demo of the site is going to go. The page in question has already been set up with the right jquery and CSS elements – now it’s just about filling in the content and making sure it’s scaled correctly across devices. I took the same template this week and applied that to the news page as well (which should probably be up and live during the next delivery).

As for the presentation, I think I’m going to forego the static pages and just show off the application. I’ll make sure to hit the profile page, the search feature, the encoding feature, and the upload feature (including a case where you try to upload the same thing, and a case where a user encodes their own upload).

In the meantime, I’m going to see where I can help with the grant proposal and I’ll also ask Brian if he needs help on his end since things have been kind of closing for me.

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    Encouraging students think about the impact advancements in digital technology have on the future of scholarship from the moment they enter the Graduate Center, the Digital Praxis Seminar is a year-long sequence of two three-credit courses that familiarize students with a variety of digital tools and methods through lectures offered by high-profile scholars and technologists, hands-on workshops, and collaborative projects. Students enrolled in the two-course sequence will complete their first year at the GC having been introduced to a broad range of ways to critically evaluate and incorporate digital technologies in their academic research and teaching. In addition, they will have explored a particular area of digital scholarship and/or pedagogy of interest to them, produced a digital project in collaboration with fellow students, and established a digital portfolio that can be used to display their work. The two connected three-credit courses will be offered during the Fall and Spring semesters as MALS classes for master’s students and Interdisciplinary Studies courses for doctoral students.

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