Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Scholars' Lab Talk Podcast from April 3rd!

As I wrote in a post a a few weeks ago, I gave a talk in the Scholars' Lab about Songs of the Victorians and Augmented Notes on April 3rd.  My talk was recorded, and the podcast is now available through iTunesU here (it's called "Victorian Songs and Digital Tools: Facilitating Sound Studies Scholarship").

For those of you who wish to see my slides from the talk, you can view them by following this link.

I've been busy attending conferences and traveling over the last two weeks, so I haven't made many programming advances, but this coming week, I'll be revising the analysis section for Michael William Balfe's "Come into the Garden, Maud."  It will be up by next Friday, and I'll post and tweet about it once it's up.

More advances in programming and content next week!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Augmented Notes is Almost Done!

It's been another exciting week for Songs of the Victorians and Augmented Notes, both in terms of publicity and actually development progress.

I had been asked to write a guest post for ProfHacker, the excellent blog portion of The Chronicle of Higher Education that provides "Tips about teaching, technology, and productivity," and my post was published last Tuesday!  I wrote about the launch of Songs of the Victorians and about the difficulty of navigating "Browser hell" (the compatibility issues that result from designing for multiple browsers) and how a tool called BrowserStack can help.  You can view the post here.  I was pleased with the positive feedback I received on twitter, email, and blogs.  I was particularly touched by the incredibly generous comments and praise I received from Professor Bruce Holsinger, a prominent Medievalist at UVa and a member of my dissertation committee:  he wrote a blog post about my ProfHacker article and Songs of the Victorians and its contributions to scholarship.  Thanks, Bruce!!

The other exciting news is that I have built the functionality for Augmented Notes (beta version)!  Now, after users have uploaded their mp3, OGG, MEI, and image files, and have used the "Set Measure Times" selector to record the ending time for each measure (this step controls the measure highlighting), clicking on the "Submit the Times" button will output a .zip file that includes the image files, javascript, css, and html files necessary to have a working archive page.  This archive page is very plain:  it contains only a white background, the score, and the audio file, but it does highlight each measure in time with the music.  
Sample archive page produced by Augmented Notes

I'll spend the next few weeks polishing the system and writing clear instructions for users, and I'll make an official announcement about a launch date soon.  But before I can plan a launch date, I'd like your advice as to what additional features would be useful for Augmented Notes.  

Would you:
1. like user accounts that save your data? This feature would let users access data from an earlier song and add data for a new song that could be grouped with the first song.
2. like a more interesting background for the template archive page?  If so, should it be a different color?  Should it use the background from Augmented Notes (a public domain scan of the manuscript of Franz Schubert's "An Die Musik")?
3. like an instructional video that walks you each step of the system in addition to the directions at the top of every page?

Please leave your feedback in a comment here:  I want Augmented Notes to be as useful as possible, and this is your chance to have your say about the beta version of the tool.

Thanks! I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Augmented Notes Accepts MEI!

First, happy Day of DH!  For those of you who are new to this idea, it's a day when many digital humanists document every detail about their life that day to give everyone a sense of what it's like to be a DHer.  I decided not to sign up for it this year, but I still think it's a great idea.  You can follow the twitter hashtag #DayofDH to see what everyone else is up to and to better understand what digital humanities really is.

In other news, last Wednesday at noon, I gave a talk on Songs of the Victorians and Augmented Notes for the Scholars' Lab: it was a great experience and I got lots of helpful comments and positive feedback. Thanks to all of you who were able to attend!  The podcast should be available by April 19th, and once it is, I'll post it (or a link to it) here along with the slides from my talk.

Also, I just found out that a post I wrote for the The Chronicle of Higher Education's blog ProfHacker will be online tomorrow morning at 8am:  I wrote about the launch of Songs of the Victorians and about the difficulty of navigating "Browser hell" (the compatibility issues that result from designing for multiple browsers) and how a tool called BrowserStack can help.  I'll include a link to the post here on my blog once it goes live.

The biggest development news is that Augmented Notes now accepts MEI!!   For those of you who don't know, MEI is a type of xml for music, and it's a really great way to encode music in a scholarly format.  It was developed by Perry Roland in the music library at the University of Virginia.  Some of you may be more familiar with MusicXML, another xml markup for music, but it's used mainly for formatting music so it can be rendered properly, which is why it's mainly used in such music composition programs as Sibelius and Finale.  MEI, unlike MusicXML, is designed for more scholarly, analytical markup, and it's quickly becoming the standard tool for scholarly digital editions of scores. If you'd like to learn more about how it works, look at this helpful tutorial or subscribe to this mailing list.

I had always planned to use MEI in Augmented Notes, but I had been running into difficulty getting the google app engine to parse the xml: I needed it to support lxml, a python library, but it didn't work properly. As a workaround, I originally built it to take a javascript file (specifically, a JSON file) that contained the pixel positions of each measure, which I would then use to create the boxes that highlight each measure in time with the music.  But as of yesterday, I figured out how to get the google app engine to support lxml, so the site can now accept MEI files that preserve pixel positions for each measure as well as a javascript file!

For this week, I plan to learn how to make Augmented Notes output a zip file once the "submit times" button is clicked.  Once I build that functionality, I can start figuring out how to make it output a zip file with everything users need to build their own site like Songs of the Victorians.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Archive Page Available for Balfe's "Come into the Garden, Maud"

This week, I've been preparing for my Scholars' Lab talk on Wednesday, April 3rd at noon.  I'll be speaking about Songs of the Victorians  and Augmented Notes and demonstrating both of them.  Here's the poster Ronda Grizzle designed for it:

I hope I'll see you there if you live in the area!  There will be a podcast of the talk, and I'll also put my slides up on my blog. 

To help with the upcoming talk, I added the archive page for Michael William Balfe's "Come into the Garden, Maud".  I'll be adding the analysis page in the next few weeks.

In terms of Augmented Notes development, I added a new feature that lets users upload multiple pages of a score.  Users can click on the "+ Add another page" link, and a new upload button appears:

Over this coming week, I will try to add two new features: 1. When users click the submit button after setting the measure times, the measure time information will be added to a JSON file;  and 2. Once the previous feature is built, the site will output a .zip file with the html, css, and javascript files necessary for users to have their own very basic archive page like those in Songs of the Victorians.

Stay tuned for a blog post later this week with my slides from my talk!