Two steps forward and a big step back

First, the good news: I generated BookReaders for all the Walters manuscripts, and I’ve checked and uploaded some of them to this site (look for “Walters Art Museum Manuscripts” in the right menu, or go here: http://www.dotporterdigital.org/?page_id=20. Yesterday (after I figured out that there was a relative path that was slightly wrong, keeping anything from working) there was only one thing left to do: finding the height and width, in pixels, of all the page images. I was hoping to do something programmatic, but instead I have been using Jeffrey’s Exif Viewer (http://regex.info/exif.cgi) to find those numbers, and putting them into the simple js files by hand. It’s probably not ideal, and it takes a while, but it’s 1) simple (I like simple!) and 2) it offers another opportunity for quality control. I’ve found a few instances where the title pulled out of the XML contains a single quote, which messes up the javascript and keeps the book from displaying, so it’s a good check.

Now for the not-so-good news: While going through this exif-checking / quality control, I found an instance where the image files aren’t named in order. That is, page 1 is image 0001, page 2 is image 0007, page 3 is image 0003 … etc. In this instance there is no image 0002, so “page 2” shows as a blank, and “page7” displays what is actually page 2. I wrote to Will Noel, Mike Toth, and Doug Emery (Digital Walters’ brain trust) and it turns out that this is a fairly frequent occurrence. While the IA BookReader assumes that files are numbered consecutively (since that is how they design their projects), Walters provides ordering in the form of a TEI facsimile element in each manuscript description.

Long story short, I spent some time on Skype with Doug (very generously giving me his time on a Saturday afternoon!) and he recommended using jquery to build a web app that will build a list of fake file names, using the order from the facsimile element, and will associate each of those names with the file that matches the surface that the fake file name represents. I think that this will be more elegant than trying to modify the way that the BookReader works.

Now, I don’t know jquery! Doug pointed me to a tutorial, and I also have access to Lynda.com through my employer, so I expect I’ll spend some time this week getting up to speed on jquery. Doug is going to work on this in the meantime too.

I’ve placed a warning at the top of the Walters page, to let folks know that there may indeed be wonkiness in the BookReaders, but we are on the case! I’m going to go ahead and check and upload all the rest of the manuscripts, and hope that the jquery fix can be made programmatically across all the simple js files. Depending on how that goes I may go ahead with the planned Omeka catalog (the issue with page ordering in the BookReader shouldn’t really have an impact on that work) or I may wait. Stay tuned!

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