Announcing the Launch of How Do You Say It?

How Do You Say It?, one of two DIL/IAH Faculty Fellowship projects for 2014, is now live and available to the public. The project, directed by Lucia Binotti in Romance Languages, is one of two faculty projects supported in 2014 by the DIL/IAH Faculty Fellowship Program, under the auspices of the Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative.

How Do You Say It? is an interdisciplinary and community service oriented proof of concept project that exploits the Digital Innovation Lab’s DH Press to layer, map and visualize information about the Spanish language varieties used to address Latin@ audiences in the prevention of intimate partner violence. The project’s long-­term goal is to assess if the choice of different varieties of Spanish more specifically targeted to a regional sub-­group of the larger Latin@ population increases the success/effectiveness of textual literature (brochures, signs, advertisements) as well as direct oral interaction (from support services, doctors, social workers, etc.) in preventing and educating about domestic violence.

The documents repository at a glance

The documents repository at a glance

The project site consists of three sets of data visualizations, including a map of U.S. agencies dedicated to combating interpersonal violence among Latin@ communities. The core of the site features a documents repository — visualized in a myriad of ways — of nearly 230 Spanish and English documents dedicated to interpersonal violence prevention and support for survivors. Site visitors can search for documents based on document type, language, type of violence discussed, and services provided. From this corpus, the project team conducted a preliminary linguistic analysis of a subset of documents to begin visualizing textual patterns. The corpus is also available as a plain text zip file for researchers to download and ingest into text mining tools, such as Voyant.

In the coming months and years, Dr. Binotti plans to grow this project in many new directions. She will continue building partnerships with various agencies, as well as extending the linguistic analysis by incorporating that research into her undergraduate teaching.

Explore the Project

Special thanks to the Institute for the Arts and Humanities for its support of Dr. Binotti’s Fall 2014 fellowship.

And stay tuned for an announcement of the launch of POPP, our other faculty fellowship project, in January 2015!

DH Press 2.5 Now Available

I am pleased to announce the release of DH Press version 2.5! It features many enhancements to the existing toolkit, plus six new visualizations.

New Visualizations

Since the release of version 2.0 in June, our developer, Michael Newton, has been hard at work adding many new ways of visualizing data. In additional to the original Cartesian map that has been at the core of DH Press since the beginning, the toolkit now features the following new visualizations, which we call “Entry Points.” Many of these new visualizations are similar to Palladio, created by the Stanford Design+Humanities Research Lab, which uses the same D3 JavaScript library (learn more). Each unique visualization created for a DH Press project is assigned its own unique URL, thereby enabling users to be directed to a specific view of the data.

Pinboard

Rocky-KnobThe Pinboard visualization functions similarly to the map view, but instead of using an underlying Cartesian map, project admins can pin content to a background image of their own choosing. We have found this to be an excellent workaround for using historical maps without having to georectify them – see these examples from Anne Whisnant’s Parks to the Side project: Linville Falls Pinboard, Rocky Knob Pinboard.

Instead of layering additional maps on top of the base background image, the Pinboard supports the use of SVG layering. Project admins can create and load SVG layers to DH Press to enhance the Pinboard — to annotate images, similar to Scalar’s image annotation functionality. In addition to using DH Press markers to pin objects to the Pinboard, SVGs function as a secondary layer of content, but one that is not tied to the actual data model of a given project. SVG layers can be used to provide additional visual prompts to users, or explain elements of the background image.

Enhanced Pinboard with Animation

It is also possible to add an animation to a Pinboard by tying the optional SVG layers to a media file. Site visitors can play the media file and see various SVG layers turn on/off in sync with the streaming media. This feature can be used to provide a guided tour through the Pinboard. For example, the SVG layers could be tied to a tutorial video filmed by the project team, and used as a way to explain aspects of the interactive visualization.

The animation functions similarly to the Transcript Widget. Elements of the SVG file are assigned to different chunks of the media file via a timestamped plain text transcript (the “animation script”). Currently only YouTube media files work. Note that users will only be able to see, and not hear, the file.

Timeline

Users have been asking for a timeline view since DH Press was still just a prototype. With version 2.5, it is now possible to provide a temporal display of your data. Our timeline supports the visual display of date ranges (e.g. a decade or a century) and single days, both BCE and CE.

Moreover, the DH Press timeline supports what we call “fuzzy” or uncertain dates. Project admins can specify uncertainty in their data, and DH Press will display that uncertainty by fading out the fill color of the timeline entry (see this example).

Fuzzy dates are critical to making the timeline a useful visualization for humanists. Given our uncertainty about much of the past, it allows us to provide a sense of when things might have happened without misleading our users, in a capta-based approach to data visualization (Johanna Drucker, “Humanities Approaches to Graphical Display,” Digital Humanities Quarterly 5, no. 1 (2011): link).

Facet Flow

A facet flow connecting type of object with materials used to create the object.Facet flows allow you to visualize the relationship between different attributes in your data. For example, this visualization from the How Do You Say It? project shows the relationship between the intended gender audience for a given document about interpersonal violence prevention (Attribute A), and the actual use of gendered grammar, or gendered pronouns determinative articles (Attribute B). The colored bands can be rearranged by clicking on the “alpha” or “size” links for either attribute. Attribute positions can be swapped by dragging the top down to the bottom and vice versa. Hovering over a colored band shows the percentage of relevant results in the data. Clicking on a colored band will bring up all relevant documents in the window below.

Facet Browser

BrowserThe facet browser allows users to explore the project by filtering on any number of attributes. Similar to many e-commerce websites (such as Amazon or Zappos), users can drill down into several attributes at the same time in order to find specific elements of the data (“faceted search”). Project admins may add as many attributes (motes) to this view as they like, though too many will hinder the user experience.

Tree View

The final visualization is the tree view, which displays 1 to N relationships within your data. The most common usage of this is for genealogical family trees, though the tree view can be used for any sort of parent-child relationship in your data (see this non-familial example). There are three different tree views available:

  • a Flat Tree
  • a Radial Tree, where each successive generation is placed at a further radius from the center root node
  • a Segmented Wheel, where each successive generation is a further ring-layer moving out from the center core

New Data Types

To support these new visualizations, we’ve added several new data types:

  • x,y coordinates for Pinboards (similar to latitude,longitude pairs)
  • pointer data for Tree Views
  • dates and date ranges for Timelines
  • YouTube data for the Transcript Widget (see below) and Pinboard Animations

Pointer data can also be used to create relationships between data points without using the Tree View. Project admin can specify a “primary key” in the project to mimic the functionality of a relational database. Setting a primary key tells DH Press to treat a particular attribute of your data (custom field) as the unique identifier, which can be used to connect data points.

N.B. these data types are customized exclusively for DH Press. They are not globally recognized data types (such as nominal, integer, and ratio data). They were created to aid project admins in creating and configuring their visualizations. Please consult our documentation for detailed specifications about how to set up your data.

Enhancements to Current Features

Transcript Widget

In addition to these new visualizations, Michael has added some important functionality to existing DH Press capabilities. Most importantly, he has enhanced the Audio/Transcript tool (now called the “Transcript Widget” in v. 2.5) to support streaming media from either SoundCloud or YouTube. Additionally, he has extended the tool to support a scrolling transcript without a streaming audio/video file. This can be used for manuscript transcription.

For users of older versions of DH Press, make sure to consult our 2.5 Documentation for small changes in the project configuration dashboard, particularly with respect to configuring the Transcript Widget. Users are strongly encouraged to follow the formatting specifications for transcripts in this documentation.

Data Export

We now have the capability to export data out of DH Press. Project admins can create a CSV file directly from their project dashboard. This is particularly useful in cases where many changes were made to the data after import. This enables project teams to update their data in DH Press without having to go back and make the same changes in their original data files. Instead, they can simply export the data after those changes have been made.

Start Using DH Press 2.5

DH Press 2.5 can be downloaded from our GitHub repository. Please consult Michael’s documentation about configuring data and projects for 2.5.

Note that once you migrate your project to 2.5, you will not be able to revert back to an older version of DH Press. We anticipate future releases to support backwards compatibility, but cannot at this time due to significant changes in the plugin’s architecture. For full details about migrating from 2.0 to 2.5, please consult our documentation.

Special thanks to Michael Newton, DH Press Lead Developer, for all of his hard work getting us to version 2.5. Additional thanks go out to the kind folks at OASIS, who have proven invaluable in the process, and to Anne MacNeil, one of our 2014 DIL/IAH Faculty Fellows, who assisted with field testing version 2.5, and whose project inspired many of our new visualizations.

Digital Humanities Postdoc Position

CDHI is currently accepting applications for a two-year Digital Humanities Postdoctoral Fellowship.

This postdoctoral fellow will consult with faculty on incorporating digital humanities approaches and materials in their work, and plan programs and workshops that contribute to broader conversations on campus around digital humanities topics and issues. The position will provide project management and technical support for up to four DIL/IAH Faculty Fellows (one or two each fall semester). the position will develop a research and publication agenda through the use of digital technologies in a project to be completed by the end of the fellowship experience. The position will also teach four digital humanities courses over the twenty-four months of the fellowship. The fellow will also hold a teaching appointment in the appropriate department or curriculum in the College of Arts and Sciences. Courses will reflect the scholarly interests of the fellow as well as the curricular needs and priorities of the academic department and university, particularly with respect to the Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities.

Learn more or to apply online, visit the online listing.

AMST 840 to be Offered Spring 2015

For students interested in Digital Humanities, Digital Public History, or those looking to enroll in a class in pursuit of the Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities, CDHI Postdoctoral Fellow Julie Davis will offer AMST 840: Digital Humanities/Digital American Studies in the Spring 2015 semester.

This course focuses on the application of interdisciplinary digital humanities approaches within site-based, community-oriented, public history projects. We’ll explore how to incorporate a physical and emotional sense of place into digital spaces. We’ll also consider how to use digital technologies to interpret historic sites in ways that engage broad publics and foster local community. Students will analyze/discuss readings on digital humanities and public history theory, review case studies, and critique examples of digital public projects. They also will analyze ongoing work in the Digital Innovation Lab (DIL), including the Loray Mill project.

Students also will gain hands-on, practical experience in applying digital tools & methods to a public history project. They will contribute work to one or more DIL projects in ways that could be translated into individual portfolios. No prior DH training is necessary, but a willingness to experiment and make small contributions to a long-term, collaborative effort is essential.

The course meets Thursdays from 1:00-3:50. Please direct inquiries to Julie Davis.

Slave Narrative Project Presented at ASIS&T 2014

DIL Associate Director, Pam Lach, and SILS Doctoral Candidate, Annie Chen, presented their work on the Slave Narrative Name and Place Project at ASIS&T 2014, the annual meeting of the Association for Information and Technology, in Seattle, WA. The project was included in the Poster Session on Monday, November 3, 2014.

Annie Chen discusses the details of the poster with fellow conference goers

Annie Chen discusses the details of the poster with fellow conference goers

The poster described a two-part online user study of University Faculty and K-12 teachers, who were asked to share what they would like to see in an interface for exploring historical narratives. The two user groups explored the interface Annie has been developing, which offers two visualizations of the narratives’ text: sentiment/affect and characters/social roles. The visualizations were created through a combination of text mining and manual annotation. In addition to suggesting future design directions, survey respondents shared how they might deploy the interface in their classrooms.

 

The slave narratives are made available through Documenting the American South, as well as DocSouth Data. Stay tuned for future updates about the project.

DH Press now Available for UNC WordPress Sites

A pre-release version of DH Press 2.5 is now available for all members of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Any UNC faculty, staff, or student with an onyen can activate DH Press in any web.unc.edu site. Simply log in to your dashboard, navigate to your plugins, and activate DH Press. Make sure to add the map library if you plan to create a map (base map library  |  NC historic map overlays). Check out our documentation here.

The latest version of DH Press includes many exciting new features, in addition to map and gallery visualizations, including:

  1. Pinboard view with animations
  2. Timeline
  3. One to N network graphing (family trees)
  4. Facet flows
  5. Enhancement of our audio/transcript tool to include YouTube media files

You can view a demo project created by DH Press Developer Michael Newton here.

Thanks to ITS and the Office of Arts and Sciences Information Services (OASIS) for their help in making DH Press available across campus.

Look for the official release of 2.5 later this Fall!

New Version of Digital Portobelo Featured in Carolina Arts & Sciences Magazine

Digital Portobelo: Art + Scholarship + Cultural Preservation” is featured in the latest edition of the Carolina Arts & Sciences Magazine (read the online version of the article). The release of this article comes with the migration of Digital Portobelo to DH Press version 2.0.

gallery viewThe updated version of Digital Portobelo features a new Gallery visualization, build from our Topic Cards entry point. In addition to the familiar conceptual map, the Gallery View features cards for each interview. Each card represents an excerpt of an interview, with a corresponding image. The resulting visualization is a vibrant, dynamic snapshot of the collection. Cards can be sorted by a range of values, which results in a visual rearranging of the gallery. Moreover, cards can be filtered on a number of meaningful categories of analysis, including Interviewee Name, Themes, Time Period, Congo Spaces, and Congo Identity. Selecting aspects for filtering the gallery will narrow the number of cards displayed at a particular moment. Clicking on a card allows you to listen to all of the audio while reading the corresponding English and Spanish transcripts.

The migration of Digital Portobelo highlights some of the robust capacities of DH Press 2.0. Look for the release of version 2.5 — along with many new visualizations — in the coming months!

Special thanks to Charlotte Fryar for her hard work on the project migration.

Preview of DH Press 2.5

With the overhaul of DH Press for its 2.0 release this past summer, subsequent development of our digital humanities visualization toolkit has been speeding up. Later this fall, we’ll release version 2.5. In the meantime, here’s an overview of the new visualizations DH Press 2.5 will support.

In addition to maps and the topic card views that we introduced with v. 2.0, we are in the process of adding 4 new visualizations and some extensions of current functionality.

Pinboard

Pinboard View

Test Pinboard using cover art for the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Users will be able to load an image as a background image, and then “pin” content (markers) to the board. This will function similar to the map, which uses latitude/longitude pairs to pin markers to a base map. In this case, markers will be associated with points on the image using X,Y coordinates (which can be determined from MS Paint, Mac Preview, or other tools that enable image editing).

In addition, DH Press 2.5 will support the addition of SVG layers on top of the Pinboard (similar to our map overlays). This can be used to annotate images, create additional visual cues, and give project admins more powerful customization of the visualization.

We are also working to incorporate animation of the SVG layers in the Pinboard view. Associating SVG layers with points in an audio or video file will allow various SVG elements to turn on/off in synchronization with audio. This would allow project admins to provide a more guided tour of the visualization.

Timeline

Timeline View

Sample timeline view

Many users have been asking for a timeline view for a while now. We are currently testing such an implementation. For this version of DH Press, the timeline will be a standalone visualization, but we hope to someday integrate it with the maps so that we can visualize space and time together. Details about how to configure temporal data will be available along with the 2.5 release.

Basic Networking Visualization

Given the DIL’s work mapping people in the past, we have begun to develop basic visualizations for creating network graphs. For now, we can do a basic flat tree map, similar to a genealogical family tree, as well as a segmented wheel. We are also working on a third visualization for large data sets.

Facet Flow

This visualization allows you to show connections between different facets — or attributes — of your data. In all of our other visualizations, we can only display one aspect of the data (this is the active legend). Facet flows allow you to show two or more dimensions of your data at the same time, by visualizing dynamic connectors between facets. This illustration shows two dimensions of data — type of object, and materials used to create the object. Users can invert the dimensions, and mousing over displays a count of objects, which corresponds to the thickness of the connector. A list of relevant data points are displayed below the visualization when a thread is selected. Clicking on a data point will pull up the global modal lightbox with additional information. This visualization will be particularly helpful for projects with very large data sets.

A facet flow connecting type of object with materials used to create the object.

Audio/Transcript Widget Enhancement

YouTube Widget

Embedded YouTube video using our audio/transcript tool.

Finally, we are working to enhance the audio/transcript widget, which allows us to sync SoundCloud audio files with textual transcripts. We expect that the new release of DH Press will support YouTube video files, synced to textual transcripts.

 

 

 

 

Look for these and other exciting enhancements in DH Press 2.5,
which should be released by the end of 2014.

 

Unbuilt Blue Ridge Parkway Featured in New Publication

The Unbuilt Blue Ridge Parkway, a collaborative project between Anne Whisnant’s HIST 671 and the DIL’s Graduate Practicum in Digital Humanities (Fall 2013), is featured in the debut issue of The American Historian, a new publication of the Organization of American Historians. OAH members receive the print publication as part of their membership.

Check out the project here.

Unbuilt Parkway

DH Press 2.0 is Here!

We’ve been hard at work on DH Press since the release of the Beta 1.0 version in April 2013. In the past year, we’ve launched our pilot project, Mapping the Long Women’s Movement, transitioned to a new Lead Developer for the toolkit, and collaborated on six new DH Press projects (in addition to a proof of concept created by the first class of our Graduate Practicum in Digital Humanities), with many more in progress.

Now, I am pleased to announce the release of DH Press 2.0. This latest version includes many enhancements, both to the administrative backend and to the front-end user interface. This blog post outlines the major features of 2.0. For a complete list, please consult the Release Notes on GitHub or our revamped documentation (still a work in progress).

We’ve created a test project to demonstrate all of the features of DH Press 2.0. You can grab the data and play in your own WordPress site.

Improving Visualizations

Broadly speaking, we’ve done a lot to improve on and expand the data visualizations DH Press offers. In the process, we’ve added more customization for our admin users, giving them more control over how they can present their projects to their users.

Modals

To begin, we’ve made it easier to customize the look of your DH Press project. Modals (lightbox popups) can be set to five sizes (from Tiny to X-Large). For projects that embed large images, or an audio file and transcript, the modal might be configured on the larger side. Projects containing small amounts of textual data may opt for a smaller modal to cut down on unnecessary white space.

Additionally, user admins may now customize the display name for the green linkout buttons that appear at the bottom of the modal. Users may elect to use one, two, or no linkouts. They can also specify whether links are opened in the current browser tab or in a new one.

Enhancements to the Map Interface

We’ve improved the look and feel of the maps. In addition to streamlining the interface, we’ve added some further functionality to bolster the user experience and, hopefully, make the visualization more intuitive. Our maps now display the project name (top left of screen), and include a map reset button along with our zoom in/out controls (upper right of map). This button resets the original map center and zoom level, which is handy if users get lost while exploring the map.

We’ve also added a customizable map exit button to help users leave the map (the “home” button). Project admins may select the display text for the map exit button, as well as the redirect link.

Help Tips

We’ve also rethought those pesky pre-set map tips that pop up every time the map is launched (we opted not to use cookies to disable the pop up for returning site visitors). We’ve moved from displaying lots of individual pop-ups to a single map tip modal (lightbox). Project admins create a regular WordPress page and then specify that page as the map tips page in the settings. That link shows up in the top right corner of the entry point. When users click on the link, a help lightbox will pop up over the visualization, rather than taking users to a new help page. Not only can admins customize their visualization help tips, but they can provide broader help and contextualization for their site visitors, guiding users through the project in a way that makes sense to the unique and individualized requirements of that particular project.

Two Maps in One Interface

two-map-viewMoreover, we’ve added the capability of comparing two maps side-by-side, as our Lebanese project demonstrates. This is a critical feature that allows users to draw comparisons across maps. In the Lebanese project, users can compare patterns of settlement across time and space. For instance, users can elect to see the 1920 and 1930 maps for Goldsboro to see change over time in one place, or they can look at the 1930 maps for Wilmington and Winston-Salem, to draw comparisons across space. We’ve designed this feature to work with any combination of visualizations; we expect to adapt this feature as more visualizations come online, enabling users to display a map on one side and, say, a timeline on the other side.

To set up a two-map view, simply create a new page and (working in “Text” mode) copy in the following modified HTML code: <iframe style=”position:absolute;top:0;left:0;bottom:0;height:100%;” src=”INSERT-YOUR-MAP-LINK=-HERE” width=”50%”></iframe><iframe style=”position:absolute;top:0;right:0;bottom:0;height:100%;” src=”INSERT-YOUR-MAP-LINK-HERE” width=”50%”></iframe>

Map Library and Map Functionality

DH Press 2.0 features several improvements to the Map Library. First, we’ve moved away from OpenLayers and over to Leaflet for basic map functionality.

We’ve added the number of base map layers available. Base maps now include: Google, Open Street Map, two versions of MapQuest, and a blank map layer. Project admins may also set the opacity of a base map to fade it out. Site visitors will still be able to adjust the map layer opacity manually.

Furthermore, we’ve split the Map Library into two different CSV files — base maps and NC overlay maps. All users must install the base maps, but only projects requiring the CDLA’s historic NC maps need install the second map library.

Currently, we cannot yet support TMS maps, but hope to get that online for version 2.5 or 3.0.

Multiple Visualizations

We also have the ability to create multiple visualizations on a single set of data. In previous implementations of DH Press, you could only create a single map per project. So if you wanted a project to have two different maps (each mapping different attributes in your data), you would have two options: either re-load the data twice and create two distinct maps, or segment your data into mini-sets, and import each one into its own project with its own map (which we did in the Lebanese project). Either approach is problematic; the former approach leads to an unnecessary duplication of data; the latter forces the admin to configure multiple projects. And in both cases, it makes bulk editing the data in DH Press more difficult.

With 2.0, you can create multiple visualizations on one set of data – as many maps as you like! Or you can add multiple instantiations of our new topic card visualization. Each visualization will have its own unique sub-URL. Check out our demo project to see how it works.

New Visualization

Topic Card Visualization

Topic Card Visualization

Most importantly, DH Press offers a second type of data visualization (in addition to geo-spatial visualizations — i.e., maps). We now support “Topic Cards” visualization, which is something like Pinterest for Digital Humanities.

Here’s how it works: when users configure their data types (“motes”) they create global legends (assign colors or icons; to use both simply create two versions of the mote). These color assignments are applied globally to all entry point visualizations. Rather than create the legend when setting up an entry point, you create the legend when configuring your motes. Then you simply select whatever legends you want to show up in a given entry point (some or all). The same holds true when configuring your modal lightbox. So, if a particular value for a given category is represented by a green map marker, the topic card will likewise appear in the same shade of green. And, when a user clicks on either a map marker or a topic card, he/she will see the same custom fields (“motes”) in the “modal” (information pop-up window).

Admin users can specify what motes show up in the topic card (before opening the modal). The cards tilt slightly when they a mouse hovers over them. We’ve also incorporated handy sort/filter operations for the topic cards (defined by the admin when configuring the entry point). So you can shuffle and sort the view of the cards based on an attribute of the data, and you can filter to see a subset of the cards.

Additionally, you can specify the size of the topic cards: thin, medium, or wide height/width (in any combination) or you can set it to automatic. When set to automatic, DH Press re-sizes the cards based on the amount of content displayed. This produces irregularly-sized topic cards. We recommend that set either height or width to automatic, but not both.

Audio/Transcript Tool Enhancements

Side-by-side display of Spanish and English transcript

Side-by-side display of Spanish and English transcript

In a previous post, I discussed how we’ve improved the audio/transcript tool in several key ways. First, the transcript now displays as scrolling text, both in the modal and in the full transcript view. In addition, site visitors may now specify the width of the transcript iframe in the full transcript view (by a simply dragging action), thereby controlling how much text they see. This will help users explore the transcript.

Secondly, we’ve added the capability to display two transcripts side-by-side. This was especially important for our Digital Portobelo project, in which we wanted to deliver Spanish and English versions of the transcripts. In theory, any language that can be encoded as Unicode UTF-8 should work in our tool. And, in cases where only some of the interviews within a given project require dual transcript display, DH Press will automatically default to a single transcript view if a second version does not exist (as this example from Digital Portobelo illustrates).

In a future release, we hope to expand the Audio/Transcript even more, this time focusing on the media component. Currently, we only support streaming audio from SoundCloud, but we would like to expand streaming to other third party providers. Moreover, we hope to expand the type of media supported in the tool, to include videos (streamed from YouTube) and more static media content, such as images (for example, a digital representation of a diary, with the accompanying textual transcription). (No word yet on how long it will take to add these features.)

Check out our 2.0 Demo Project, which uses streaming music and accompanying lyrics (processed as timestamped transcripts), in our first experiment with audio/text other than oral history material.

Technical Specifications and Admin Improvements

Though your site visitors might not notice it, we’ve also made it easier to manage DH Press from a technical perspective. We’ve cleaned up the code, streamlined it, commented it out (in line documentation), and implemented a new JavaScript library. Check out a recent blog post by our developer, Michael Newton, which explains some of these changes.

No Additional Plugins Required

Our initial beta version required three additional plugins to be installed before DH Press could be functional; those plugins are now incorporated into the tool so that no additional plugins are required. While project admins may likely want to install additional plugins, such PDF Embed plugins, or Usernoise for feedback, to extend their projects even fuller, these plugins are not mandatory.

Resolving Data Issues

In the process of streamlining the code, we’ve also paved the way for future extension of the tool. We’ve also worked to resolve some of the data conflicts we noticed in early beta testing. While most users probably didn’t encounter such conflicts in their projects, those who want to create multiple DH Press projects (using similar data) in a single WordPress site would have run into problems when creating legends, including the creation of erroneous duplicates and ghost categories, as well as repeating colors for similar legend values across projects. We’ve resolved most of the problems, and are continuing to improve how DH Press handles data.

We’ve also added new and reconfigured existing data types to help cut down on user error during the mote creation process.

Data Type Function
Short Text Used for creating legends; recommended not to exceed 32 characters
Long Text Used for all other text, including csv_post_post, as well as html (such as img src html embed code); can be used for any content with html embed code, such as YouTube video, Google Street View
Lat/Lon Coord Geocordinates for map markers
Image Image URL for display in modal*
Link To Links to external website using target:blank function; no embed code required (just a URL)
SoundCloud Link to SoundCloud audio file for the audio/transcript tool
Transcript Link to Transcript .txt file (from your site’s Media Library) for transcript
Timestamp Start/End timestamp for audio/transcript tool

*Technically, these images will also render on a post page, but if you want to include multiple images, we recommend using HTML embed code. This can be implemented by creating a separate field of data in your spreadsheet, and using the <img src> tags. This way you can add any number of images, and include additional content, such as line breaks and captions, all through basic HTML.

WordPress Themes

We’ve also been working to decouple the plugin from any particular WordPress theme. The 1.0 version could only work with Twenty Twelve, but 2.0 is a bit more theme independent. Not every theme will work with DH Press, and we plan to spend some time developing a list of recommended themes. Please note that visualizations will likely not load in an incompatible theme. For users who wish to experiment with themes, please contact us at digitalinnovation@unc.edu to share your progress.

Error Checking

We have improved error checking for user admins. In the initial plugin, there was no indication of problems in the project settings interface. For example, if a user neglected to specify a lat/long mote for the markers, it would be very difficult to diagnose why the map visualization wouldn’t work. We’ve identified several critical configuration errors that might break the visualization to assist users in determining user-generated errors. This will make project creation easier for our users, especially those new to the toolkit.

Moreover, we’ve added a testing panel in the project configuration/settings section of DH Press. You can run this to check your data. Currently, DH Press can check for lat/long and timestamp data types.

Kiosk Mode

We’ve added a new Kiosk Mode for projects requiring site-specific delivery, as in the case of our Mapping Early NC Lebanese Households project, which is being displayed on a 27” touch tablet in the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh (February-August, 2014). Kiosk Mode enables project admins to optimize their projects for tablets, and improve the user experience for site visitors. Kiosk Mode includes a site timeout (to refresh the browser after a specified period of inactivity), a choice of opening links in a new browser tab or the same one (we often want to constrain our users’ ability to navigate off the project website when viewing the project on site), and a custom theme that includes a larger navigation bar at the bottom of the screen.

Leaving any of the timeout fields blank (either for the entire site or for the DH Press project visualization) will default to no timeout. Kiosk mode may be activated for projects that are not intended for site-specific delivery.

Global Options

Kiosk mode is part of many other Global Settings for DH Press, which are configured not in the DH Press section of the dashboard, but under Settings (Settings > DH Press Options). Users can:

  • Set up a site tip page (global help for all visualizations)
  • Set a site timeout (good for site-specific projects; if one user walks away, the project resets after a period of inactivity so that the next user is not confused)
  • Set a redirect URL (where should the site re-set to? The Home page? The Entry Point?)
  • Set a Kiosk Launch Page
  • Enter Kiosk Mode to add the navigation bar to the bottom of the screen for easier exploration and maneuvering
  • Configure Kiosk User Agents to enable Kiosk mode on certain types of devices (leave blank if enabled for all devices)
  • Block external links (specify the URLs) to keep people from leaving the webpage; ideal for site-specific tablets that have their keyboard disabled (keeps users from checking email or accidentally leaving the DH Press project)
  • Display DH Press credits at the bottom of the screen
  • Set up screensaver, such as an image gallery

Versioning

Because we’ve been able to ramp up development and shorten our development cycles, we’ve begun implementing plugin versioning. This enables us to maintain a stable version of the plugin, while also releasing more experimental (and possibly buggy) versions in rapid succession. We will push new versions to GitHub as often as we can. But users will have the freedom to decide if, and when, they want to upgrade the plugin. In this way, they can quarantine their existing projects to prevent potential residual problems that may arise when upgrading.

DH Press 2.0 should work in WordPress 3.8.3 and 3.9.1, and is compatible with PHP 5.3 and 5.4.

A Final Note to Admin Users

While I’ve tried to cover the major changes to DH Press, we recommend that all admin users read the release notes for 2.0 on GitHub before installing or updating the plugin.

Additionally, given the rapid pace of this most recent development cycle, we are still in the process of updating our user documentation, which we’ve been busily overhauling. We’ll also be adding short demos, and streamlining the documentation to make it more succinct and easy to navigate. We expect the bulk of the revisions to be done over the summer, and ask for your patience as we redesign our documentation.

Finally, we have spent a good deal of time trying to develop a more sustainable solution for users interested in exploring and playing with the tool. Our existing Sandbox has been difficult to maintain, and has been taxing on our servers. We are considering moving away from a hosted Sandbox space, and instead providing users with a short-term, temporary account to help them decide whether they want to adopt DH Press. We would then provide documentation to help users obtain their own WordPress installation in their own server environment (typically through third-party web hosting services) for long-term use. We’re not yet certain we’ll pursue this route or not, but we’ll continue to post updates as we develop a new Sandbox policy.

No matter what, you can install the plugin on your own hosted sites. Simply grab the latest stable release version by clicking the “download zip” button. Then, upload the zipped file directly to WordPress: Plugins > Add New > Upload. WordPress will do the rest!

We’re excited about these improvements to DH Press, which we think make it an even more user-friendly and intuitive digital humanities toolkit. We hope you’ll agree.

Please share your thoughts with us, send us new feature requests, or let us know how you’re using the tool. You can email us at digitalinnovation@unc.edu or follow us on GitHub and Twitter (@dh_unc).

 

Thanks to all members of the DH Press team, past and present, who have helped us along the way, as well our countless Practicum students and graduate interns for helping us to test the tool. We were sad to lose our original programmer, Joe Hope, who has left RENCI. Special thanks to Michael Newton, who assumed lead programmer responsibility this Spring, and Olivia Dorsey, who has spearheaded the documentation overhaul.