end/line Group Post: 7 May

With just over one week until our presentation, we’ve had to prioritize our work and trim our wishlist to have the best possible product. See below for a rundown of where everything stands.

Development. We finally have our SSL certificate and our upgraded Heroku hosting configured—thanks Lisa and the Graduate Center! This small, but necessary, task will secure endlineproject.org and help protect user data. Brian and Greg, meanwhile, have completed nearly all of the necessary back- and front-end work. Hopefully, we’ll put together a snazzy “How It Works” page with interactive graphics in time for the 17 May presentation.

Community Management. I haven’t seen any further beta testing feedback but, given that we’re at the end of the spring semester, I’m not surprised. Perhaps over the summer we can work with some potential users. During this past week’s class, Lisa made a number of good suggestions about how to improve the branding of the site. Admittedly, much of the static content on endlineproject.org is a little outdated, so I made a few small edits to the About and Contact pages, and Iuri has written a News post about our #dayofDH testing. Michael has pitched in to help to draft our NEH grant proposal.

Presentation. Our in-class presentation was a little off-the-cuff, so I compiled a brief outline this weekend, which I hope we can build off of in the next few days.

NEH grant proposal. We’re currently trying to re-use as much project documentation as possible to pull this together. Completing this proposal, however, will need to wait until after we deliver our presentation.

Letting go… I realize, thankfully but belatedly, that I haven’t been the best collaborator over the past few weeks. In fact, with the presentation and grant proposal looming, I’ve probably taken on too much recently (perhaps feeling that I, as project director, needed to have a say in everything). Lisa pointed this out, and team members volunteered to do much-needed work, so I’ve made an effort since Wednesday’s class to be more direct and facilitate the contributions of others.

We’re nearly there…

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end/line — Week 10 Journal

Greg mostly covered what I’ve been working on in the last week. My main goal has been getting the inner workings of the site up and running. Most of it is tedious work at this point, to be honest. Do you ever think about how websites implement resetting passwords and sending account verification emails? It’s easily the driest stuff in these kinds of projects.

So basically I’ve been doing that. Most of the fun stuff is done and I’m just finishing the boring stuff now. With these out of the way, I can start to focus on upgrading the TEI validation script to go beyond XML. That’s the last real challenge.

I think most of the boring and tedious stuff is done, but I’m sure a couple more will pop up within the next two weeks. I’ll be ready to tackle those when they come up.

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end/line week 10

We are approaching to the end of the semester, so – as it is logical – we are starting to think about the requirements we have to complete for the class. This class, being a kind of unicum, will allow us – for this semester – not only to work together for all the semester, but to present our work on May 17th. We are all pretty excited about this opportunity, and we are working to make end/line better.

During the last week, I spent some time reviewing the first feedback we received: it was very useful, because through these we could imagine and understand how other people – not involved at all until now in this idea – perceive our app and understand its purposes.

But we still have more than 20 potential beta testers, so I started to work on them too. We indeed decided to split them up in three different groups, and to give all of them a week to test end/line and to release their feedback. We consider this as the most reasonable way to avoid the management of an excessive amount of data.

These feedback will be fundamental to develop the last version of end/line, which we will present on May 17th,

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end/line 04/30/2017 update

It’s finally May – which means that the clock is ticking down to both our presentation day and the day that the grant proposal should somewhat be together. Iuri is going through a couple more rounds of beta testing which means I’ll be on my feet to address any issues or feedback that might come from it. I right now have to put myself in a place to elaborate as much as possible about the process of not only learning a couple of things along the way via Brian but why I made some of the choices I did stylistically with Bootstrap.

As for the work this week, the pages that Brian asked for me to put together to finish the final routers were the forgot password page, email validated “thank you notice,” and the reset confirmation for passwords. I styled these based on the minimalist signup and error pages because it didn’t merit being too busy. Now it’s just about cleanups and a few more style changes.

On the backburner currently is putting together a “How It Works” page via Tom’s suggestions. I must check out how to make a compatible copy based on the example he sent me which I’m going to run through this entire week.

So far so good.

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end/line Weekly Diary: 30 April

Approaching 17 May, we remain in a relatively good position, though we have a fair amount of work to complete in disparate areas. See below for more details on each of these.

Presentation. While we’ll use Wednesday’s class to run through our 10–15 minute presentation, I want to ensure that everyone will have an opportunity to comment on his contribution to the project. Lisa’s suggestion to highlight process as much as product seems like a good means towards accomplishing this. While I can discuss the theoretical and pedagogical influences driving end/line, both the community management and development teams performed tons of intellectual work throughout the semester. Therefore, I’d like to focus on streamlining our demonstration of the app as much as possible, or integrating it with discussions of how outreach, publicity, front-end, and back-end considerations led us to the current versions of its features.

Grant. Proposing a grant to the NEH seems intense, but we’re excited to review all of the items we marked as nice-to-have or out-of-scope and see how they could fit into this. Also, this past week I’ve started to draft a potential budget for a Level II Digital Advancement Grant, which has allowed me to focus on the material needs of our project if we want to enhance, scale, or sustain it.

Beta Testing. The first round of beta testing, at Ryerson University in Toronto, was informative and helped us better frame the app as a pedagogical tool on the home, upload, and encoding pages through Bootstrap’s modals plugin. Now, with those changes in place, we’ve lined up approximately twenty more testers, thanks to Iuri’s outreach work over the course of semester. We’re all excited to learn their thoughts over the next two weeks.

Back-End Solidity and Front-End Extras. Brian’s finished much of the in-scope back-end work for the project and will be working on some nice-to-have features (for example, validation against the TEI schema) now. Greg’s finished all of the pages necessary for Brian’s work, so I’m hoping that we can collaborate on an interactive “How It Works” page that explains sign-up/sign-in, upload, encoding, submission, and comparison steps. (I’d like to use a scrolling template if we can find one compatible with the current site.)

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ZUC In Review

The Zine Union Catalog has been coming along relatively well. However, the Spring break caused some sluggish progress in development because co-working in person became difficult. The reason this caused issues is because my work relied heavily on cooperative work with Lauren on the creation of maps, data imports, and other metadata-specific objectives. Once the break was over we jumped back in and achieved some important progress.

First, we have outlined the initial goals for these meta-data specific tasks, e.g. how many different collections to test with, which fields in the mapping schema to include, the need to test data import through cataloger accounts rather than the admin account, limiting the format of metadata files to spreadsheets, etc.

Second, we began working on making maps for QZAP, Denver, and Barnard collections. During the break, I was able to make one of the basic (and very prominent) features of CA to work: Browse. CA allows for the user to find results in a variety of ways. The most basic is search, which we have working and have already begun modifying cosmetically. The browse feature shows the user various categories such as “collection”, “author”, et. al that can allow the user to delve into the results in steps. Although we imported metadata, our browse function did not work. It turns out all we needed to do was create a relationship between the objects and a collection on which they are a part.

So, I created a Mapping rule that looks like this:

Mapping 12 ca_collections collectionSplitter { “relationshipType”: “part_of”, “collectionType”: “external” }

which says that column 12 for an object must specify the name of the collection of which this object is a part (e.g., “QZAP” or “Denver Zine Library”).

Once this was done, clicking on “Browse” produced a menu with a selection of collections that the user can then click to view the contents of a particular collection.

I tried to use a “Constant” rule type instead of a “Mapping” rule type in order to set the collection without having to create a column for this field. A constant simply says that instead of looking to a column for the text to use (e.g., “12”), use this text instead for ALL the objects in this entire import (e.g., “QZAP”). Unfortunately, this did not work for reasons unknown to me. Thus, we will create a column for metadata sets where the name of the collection will go.


After the break, we also hit another major milestone – a clickable link in the details page of individual objects that can point to the collection where this object lives. This was an integral part of the ZUC project because we wanted users to be able to actually go to a url of the library or collection that holds the zine.

Collective Access has a field for an “external link” for objects, entities (authors), and even collections. However, this external link did not appear when looking at the details or description of an object that had an external link defined. Obviously, a link that isn’t visible to a user isn’t of much use.

Rather than going into details about how I found the solution, I will simply summarize what the solution was:

In cPanel, I edited the file responsible for display the details about an object when clicking on it from a search or browse page. Go to: public_html -> pawtucket folder -> themes -> your theme -> views -> Details (the details page!). In this folder, edit a file called “ca_objects_default_html.php”

This file is what is shown when looking at the details of an object. Using code for displaying an object’s idno as formula I made the details page display the external link.


So, I used this:

{{{<ifdef code="ca_objects.idno"><H6>Identifer:</H6>^ca_objects.idno<br/></ifdef>}}}

To make this:

{{{<ifdef code="ca_objects.external_link"><H6>Source</H6>^ca_objects.external_link</br></ifdef>}}}

However, what this produced was the text of what was entered in the “external link” field as text and not as a hyperlink. In order to make the text be displayed as a clickable link, I added %returnAsLink=1. The result looks like this:

{{{<ifdef code="ca_objects.external_link"><H6>Source</H6>^ca_objects.external_link%returnAsLink=1</br></ifdef>}}}

This gave all objects a clickable link on their individual details page which can lead users to the site of the collection where the object is held.

Unfortunately, one last issue remains with this link. We want our map to include a mapping for what goes into the “external link” field. This way, the cataloger doesn’t have to input a url for each object through the Collective Access interface. Instead, the metadata file can simply have a column where the URL for each object or simply the URL of the collection can define “external link.” This is not as easy as the collection rule I mentioned above because “external link” actually has to sub-elements – “Site Name” and “Site URL.” This makes mapping the external link require some special refinery parameters. (This also happens for fields that have multiple elements such as “address” where you want to split the address into street, city, country.)

I am currently trying to identify how to map to these two sub-elements or how to eliminate the sub-elements entirely so that a refinery parameter is not necessary.


Something else on my mind is what products of the development will be made publicly available at the end of the semester. The CA code is already open source and on GitHub. The only changes we have made to CA code are cosmetic modifications that translate to a better functionality for our project, i.e. removing image placeholders, displaying the external link field, etc.). What could be beneficial for project longevity and as contribution to the field, however, is sharing the mapping schemas that we create.

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end/line — Week 9 Journal

Last week was our first official beta test. Most of the feedback was related to the front-end, but the back-end did get some criticism for the XML validation script. Going in, I already knew that it wasn’t going to be adequate for real TEI validation. And that’s exactly what the beta testers wanted.

Creating my validation script was easy enough, but adding in TEI is probably not something I can do in just a couple of weeks. With some input from others a few weeks ago, I was pointed in the direction of a few already existent JavaScript modules for XML validation that could be coupled with a TEI schema. My goal for the next few weeks will be getting that to work. I’m pretty confident that I can get it done, but if I can’t, my original script is there to fall back on.

However, in the meantime, I’ve been working on continuing the back-end development in other areas. I’ve implemented the password change feature and started the work of adding an email validation module that will validate email addresses upon registering. I added a field to the users database table and set up the proper redirects for a non-valid user. Next is actually creating the email and testing that out on new users.

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ZUC Weekly Update – 4.23.17

This was our first group meeting outside of class since spring break and we spent the first 15 minutes catching up on the work completed during class this past Wednesday since Lauren was absent.  After that, we set up a priority plan which was mapping for the bulk upload of data sets and organizing the final project zine.  Alex and Lauren worked on mapping while Jenna and Marti worked on the layout of the zine and developing content.  


Alex and Lauren discussed the different successes and failures of the data mapping so far and worked on creating a new map together for the test site that would include a particular collection’s unique identifier and the name of the collection that the data was coming from.  It was not entirely successful since all the data was not showing up in Collective Access, but some progress was made in understanding the hard coded functionality of CA and the customizable functionality.  However, it seems that the dev site was injured and bulk uploads cannot be carried out at the time of this update.  It is something that will be worked on this upcoming Tuesday when the group meets again.  A discussion was also had about linking back to the collection’s site (much like DPLA) so that users of the ZUC can visit the original record at the holding institution, but that wasn’t fully completed either.  It will continue to be worked on.


Jenna and Marti worked on the design and layout of the final project that will be a zine about creating a Zine Union Catalog.  Titles, themes, and content assignments were discussed.  Each project team member will have their own content page in the zine to add material that they have worked on relating to their project roles, but each team member will also sign up for content sections to work on.  Jenna has started to draft content for her assigned areas as a model.  At Tuesday’s meeting, the group will have a more formal discussion of the timeline for the final project and work on fleshing out more of the content for the final project zine.  


As part of a discussion on outreach, Jenna suggested we reach out to Rachel Mattson at the La MaMa archive.  They’ve used CA to organize their collections and are farther along in the process than we are.  As of this post, Rachel is excited to talk to us and we will put together a set of definitive questions to ask her about CA.  We’ve had many great conversations with CA users, but look forward to another consultation with an individual at an organization that is several years into using CA.  Rachel suggested that we subscribe to a GoogleSite that we hadn’t yet heard about.  Lastly, Jenna wanted to send an update email to the ZUC Advisory Board with an update about our progress, but will do this later this week after a bit more work has been done.  We are meeting again on Tuesday evening.

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endline week 8(?)

We’re slowly entering the final stretch and even though it’s nerve-wracking, it’s great to see how far we’ve come with developing this thing. We got past our beta test, had a couple of meetings with consultants and now are figuring out what’s left to develop between me and Brian for the next week or two before our deadline arrives.

The most recent changes right before the beta test included first, a 404 page and 500 page. For these I went with a more minimalist approach and a witty pun to at least entertain users if they happen upon them. If you want to see them, go to http://www.endlineproject.org/404 or /500 depending on which you’d like to see. After that was a separate page for user profiles (to happen upon other user profiles), a page for individual encodings, and a couple of aesthetic changes. We also cleaned up the validation notification and some of the error messages.

One of the main things I had a slight issue with was cleaning up my code and conforming it to a certain standard. I kept two spaces in mind as per BH’s suggestion but weirdly enough after I changed all 40+ files and made the commit to the repository, the code changed back to the four-space default. Obviously, this isn’t the most pressing thing, but I’m still going to consider it.

The goal now is to take what we learned from the beta test, keep clicking away and refine the prototype we’ve created at this point. I need to go in and clean up a few more errors, some item placements, and some copy. After that is just the grant proposal that we need to put together to also hopefully get this thing funded. It would be great to continue working on this in the future.

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end/line Weekly Diary: 23 April

Two events this past week proved elucidating, and both have helped me gain newer, much needed perspectives on the project. First, during Wednesday’s class, Jojo and Lisa provided good critiques of the current iteration of the app. Jojo encouraged me, and our group, to develop more of a pedagogical frame that allows both new and experienced TEI users to understand the connections between close reading and encoding. Most importantly, however, she emphasized that developing this pedagogical frame doesn’t, necessarily, require more sophisticated features (like an analysis tool that breaks down, tag-by-tag, a user’s encoding). Instead, simple prompts and sidebars that reiterate how TEI markup can help us slow down and consider the structures and semantics at work in poetry can prove helpful. Lisa, meanwhile, encouraged us to rethink the ways in which we guide users through the site. More specifically, she challenged us to draw more of a connection between poetry and TEI in the tagline and deck on the homepage, clarify our public domain and intellectual property policies, and perhaps publish a “How It Works” flowchart or infographic. All of these suggestions anticipated the second elucidating event of the week: beta testing responses. Five literature scholars at Ryerson University in Toronto spent this past Thursday morning (the #dayofdh on Twitter) using the site, and they emphasized the need to clarify its purpose and guides its users in a more considered way (see our group post and Iuri’s reflection for more on this subject).

All of this has added new work to our to-do list but, on a larger level, it has forced me to define the project more concretely. I’ve reread my proposal to recapture some of the original thinking that drove the project, and I hope to align it more closely with what we’ve put together thus far. And I also realize that some of that original thinking was overly vague and requires some editing. I’m confident that we can hone the messaging and foreground the site as place for students and teachers to slow down and use TEI to read poetry more closely, understanding the hierarchies and rhetorical tropes of texts through the act of encoding. If I can articulate that by 17 May, then I think the project will be stronger and more worthy of the massive amounts of good work that the community management and development teams have already contributed.

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  • Welcome to Digital Praxis 2016-2017

    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.

    The syllabus for the course can be found at cuny.is/dps17.

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