Sunday, 15 November 2009

Progress with the rewrite

So it's decided. Digital variants, the Harpur Archive and perhaps part of Hrit (can't say any more) will be done in Joomla! with a C++ version of nmerge with several improvements:

  1. Merging using the list format, not the explicit graph. So no more wasteful conversion to/from the graph.
  2. Support for 'plug-in' alignment modules for corpus linguistics texts, multi-lingual texts, xml-aware alignment. Also a user-accessible API for building their own alignment modules in C++.
  3. Use of a full suffix-tree for the general alignment algorithm. In this way the performance will be linear.

The GUI will become a Joomla! module, extension or whatever that will take over all the current functionality of the wiki and add a manuscript view and a tree-view, which will show the genealogical tree of the work. Maybe each of these views could be designed as modules also, so the site designer can add his/her own. I want this to be as flexible as possible.

Of course, the advantage of using Joomla! is that we leverage all its existing GUI for site management and page editing etc. So we get out of the box something that humanists can already use to build their own website.

But the keyword is: components, components, components! Like Steve Ballmer with his 'Developers! developers! developers!' Let the designer be free to customise the system.

Rahmel's book on Joomla! is fairly comprehensive, but a bit difficult to read. I have nearly finished working my way through Chapter 3. My intention is to go through it all as fast as possible and type in and test all the examples. At the end I hope that I will come out as a Joomla! guru, able to create three websites at the stroke of a key. If the goal of changing the face of digital humanities is ambitious I think it is also achievable given the tools available today.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Radical Redesign

I have decided after arguing this through with the DV people is that they want a Joomla! or php-based website so they get a nice GUI and can edit it themselves. And no Java. So I have to rewrite nmerge in C++ and develop a Joomla! plugin out of the Alpha wiki web application. This way other humanitites users can get a simple, easy to deploy, web-application without paying for expensive web-hosting.