In the coming weeks, we expect to release DH Press 2.0, a far more stabilized version of the plugin.* In advance of that, I’d like to highlight one of the major changes users will see — recent improvements to our Audio/Transcript Tool.
DH Press offers a dynamic way of exploring oral histories and other audio material. With our unique Audio/Transcript Tool, users can listen to interviews while simultaneously reading the corresponding textual transcript. Users can explore individual excerpts or listen to interviews in their entirety. Read more.
We have improved our Audio/Transcript Tool in two significant ways.
Side-by-side display of Spanish and English transcript
First, we can now support bilingual oral history delivery, a feature we developed for Digital Portobelo: Art + Scholarship + Cultural Preservation, a DIL/IAH Faculty Fellows Project. For this project, we needed to support Spanish language oral histories. While this was easy enough to do (we simply had to manually time stamp the Spanish transcripts and then format them as Unicode UTF-8 for proper rendering), we wanted to do more. In particular, we wanted the interviews to be accessible to Spanish and English speakers. So we developed the capacity to display two transcripts, side-by-side, for every streaming audio file (which required us to produce two unique transcripts for every interview, one in Spanish and the other in English). In this way, users can read the Spanish and English transcripts as they listen to the (mostly) Spanish interviews. And in the case of interviews where only one transcript exists (as with Sandra Eleta, for which no Spanish transcript currently exists), DH Press defaults to displaying just the one transcript.
Digital Portobelo is our first attempt at using DH Press for bilingual oral histories. Users need not understand Spanish to enjoy the rich content contained in the project’s interviews. And, we think that this enhancement may also prove to be a good tool for teaching English to Spanish speakers, and vice versa.
Second, we have made the transcript easier to read by adding a scrolling function. In the original version of the Audio/Transcript Tool, users would have to scroll manually, both in the marker information pop-out (“modal”), in order to see the corresponding metadata, and especially in the full audio view. (See this early demo for an example of the original functionality.)
Now, we have added a scrollable box of transcript text that appears just below the audio. Users can still jump to any point in the interview, but without having to scroll nearly as much. This makes it even easier to explore oral histories. We’ve also improved how the text is highlighted as the audio file progresses, to help site visitors follow along with the interviews.
You can check out the enhancements to our Audio/Transcript tool at Digital Portobelo: Art + Scholarship + Cultural Preservation.
These changes occurred as the DH Press development team experienced some change. We are currently transitioning to a new lead developer for the tool. Michael Newton, DIL/CDHI Technology Lead, became the new lead developer for the tool in January 2014, after working along side RENCI’s Joe Hope for several months.
Jade Davis, our graduate student leading our efforts to revamp our documentation, regrettably left the team to focus on her graduate studies. We are currently searching for a new graduate student to manage a complete overhaul of our documentation. Our plan is to update our documentation to reflect the changes to the plugin, and to make the documentation more user-friendly. We’ll be filming short demos, which we think will be easier for non-technical users to follow.
Stay tuned for these and other updates, as well as the release of DH Press 2.0!
*We anticipate releasing DH Press to the broader WordPress plugin directory after one or two more short development cycles. This will make it easier for users to update the plugin in their own WordPress environments.