Behind-the-Scenes Transition and Upcoming Gallery Feature, February 2, 2017
There's going to be a substantial slow-down in the number of new watermarks being added to the database for the next few weeks. On the back-end, we're transitioning to compliance with the International Association of Paper Historian Standards as well as working with React, which will, among other things, allow us to finally implement some minor and not-so-minor aesthetic fixes, including making sure Paperbound looks as pretty on your computer as it's supposed to. What this means, though, is a re-organization of a substantial amount of data in preparation for the gallery feature, which will let you see all the images associated with any given watermark. Reorganization, of course, takes time - in this case, the time that would usually be apportioned to getting new watermarks ready for Paperbound. I promise, the gallery feature will definitely be worth the wait.
The Perks of Composite Images, December 28, 2016
The image above is the culmination of entirely too many hours staring at the screen and flipping images every which way to try and make sense of them.
It began yesterday while working on the family groupings for the various crown watermarks. While looking at PPB 25, 26, and 27, and 28 and thinking that they were vaguely related but not all that closely, the ruff on the edges caught my attention in a way it hadn't before - and made me think of other items with a similar sort of ruff to them. Cue another round of rotating and inverting the images, and all of a sudden pairing PPB 191 and 25 to make a complete image made perfect sense.
Even more exciting was realizing that a couple watermarks labelled "unclear" were, in fact, in this same family of the crowned arms of France and Navarre (simplified and distorted, to be sure) surrounded by the collar of the Royal Orders (helpfully identified by noted paleographer Marc H. Smith). However, I posted the above image as the Watermark of the Week for Dec. 28 rather than either PPB 43 or PPB 125 because the visibility on the composite is unarguably better. Such an image thus serves the purpose of helping to more easily identify this genre of watermark when you're looking at it, even though it can't be used to pin down the production date of any particular piece of paper.
Glossed, December 2, 2016
Instead of doing some of the mountain of image processing I'm supposed to be doing so as to continue adding to the number of watermarks, I took a quick minute to finally put up the Glossary page and explanations of many of the terms that show up frequently, especially in the detailed information sections. Some concepts (like author and printer) are basic enough that they didn't need included, but others (like chain line) are a bit less evident. If there are others you've come across that you would like an explanation for, don't hesitate to suggest them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ever-Growing Indices, November 16, 2016
Another new feature is now avaiable to you, the public! We've established a Printer Index, where clicking on a given printer's name allows you to see which papers were used at those particular presses (even when only the name of the printer rather than the press is known). As the number of entries in the database continues to grow, I think this feature will become more and more useful for looking at the physical distribution of paper at the time it was used. As always, I encourage you to take a look and send any feedback our way. There's another, longer blog post coming about some exciting findings, but the recent little while has been...less than ideal for gathering thoughts and putting them to paper, as it were. Soon, though!
Beyond Compare, October 14, 2016
I am so excited to reveal our newest feature: the ability to compare images as large as your screen can handle! As it currently stands, you can look at two images at a time, and adding a new watermark to the queue will eliminate the first of the two selected previously. To choose watermarks for comparison, you must click the 'Add for Comparison' button on the detail page, although we are working on a functionality for the search page that will, like many other databases, allow you to add items from the thumbnail previews to your list without clicking all the way through to the detail page. Despite its limitations, the comparison feature substantially increases the practicality of Paperbound - especially if you're trying to compare records in our database to watermarks of your own. Play around with it, and let us know what you think by sending a message to email@example.com!
Back from Denison, September 19, 2016
The week spent down at Scripps College was wonderful in all ways. The library staff are immensely friendly and helpful, the reading room was absolutely stunning, and I came back having taken over 500 photos in the process of fully documenting 9 books. Processing them all will take a while, so I'm uploading things piecemeal on a weekly basis. You'll notice that this week's WotW is from the Denison collection, which houses two Nuremberg Chronicles along with many other treasures. Check back frequently to see the new watermarks!
Milestones - 200 Watermarks, September 11, 2016
We actually passed the 200 watermark milestone a couple of days ago, but I forgot to update the blog when I pushed that particular update through. We're also likely to pass the 500 watermark milestone by the end of this coming week, if my trip down to Ella Strong Denison Library is as fruiful as I hope it will be. Wish me luck!
Permalinks, August 5, 2016
We've been talking about creating them for a while, and finally got around to doing so. They're advantageous in several respects, including not having to go through the Search or Index pages to find the watermark you're looking for and in offering a larger view of the image itself. Once I've finished with the formatting, I'll be adding in a link near/in the PPB ID at the top of each detailed result so that they're easily accessible.
With regards to the news in the last blog post, I'm happy to report that the UVa group of watermarks are now properly copyrighted and visible, searchable, etc. They include watermarks from a 16th-century Spanish Hebrew manuscript, which is unlike anything else we have in the database thus far.
Exciting Happenings on the Horizen, July 21, 2016
We have officially passed 100 watermarks! Not all of them are visible, unfortunately, as I'm still working out the kinks with adding the copyright statement to the UVa group, but they do exist and so it still counts. Also exciting (for me, at least) is that I've almost finished documenting the entirety of Box 8 from the Isaac Foot collection, meaning that soon I get to move on to Box 9 (and, eventually, the incunabula! Woo!). I'm also looking forward to September, when (depending on the size of the collection) I'll be spending a week or two down at the Ella Strong Denison Library at Scripps College documenting their watermarks. The final bit of exciting news comes from a Skype conversation I had today with a colleague at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, who'll be sending me some of his photos to see if we can integrate those into the database as well.
Uploading the latest photos from UCSB watermarks reminded me of a couple things related to Paperbound. The most obvious, which shows up especially if you're playing around on the Search page, is that the aesthetics still need some fine-tuning. Not all of the images stay in their allotted bounding box, and it doesn't always look pretty, so that's on my radar, as is the proper parsing of shelfmarks and the bibliography section for individual watermarks. The other is that this work of photography and documenting is best performed at a slow pace. Because of my rush the first time around, I missed close to 2 dozen watermarks in the Isaac Foot collection. Fortunately, I had already decided to go back through everything just in case, so now they've been properly documented. Just something to keep in mind if you ever want to contribute!
Back to Work, July 5, 2016
It's been a jam-packed month and a half since the last blog update, including finishing the dissertation, graduating, a week abroad (including finding the book binder in the heart of Siena and getting him to show me his watermark collection, of course), and a move. Now that things are a bit calmer, however, it's back to the grindstone (and, really, there are far worse grindstones at which to work).
As far as UVa's collection is concerned, I photographed only the tiniest portion of it. Doing so reminded me, however, of what a pain it is to fully document every single watermark in a codex, so I modified the Contribute page to reflect more reasonable practices. I'm going to have to find the time and funds to go back, since there's so much left to do, but would certainly welcome contributions from anyone on the ground there that has a spare minute - and feel free to let them know it's for this project, as the librarians were all very enthused and eager to provide access to materials.
With regards to other updates to the site and database, we're making slow progress on all fronts. On the development side, we upgraded to Postgres 9.5 last week in anticipation of re-organizing the presentation of the dates and locations pertinent to each watermark, as mentioned in the May 16 post. We're slowly processing the photos from UVa and will be back in UCSB Special Collections taking more photos as of tomorrow. We're also continuing to refine the results offered on the various Index pages. So stop by often to see how it's coming!
A Brief Interlude at the University of Virginia, May 19, 2016
I'm heading to Charlottesville, VA for the weekend to attend a graduation, but one of the first things I did once travel plans were laid was get in contact with Special Collections at UVa to arrange a visit to their collection. So, Monday morning, I'll be heading in with my camera fully charged and my list of items to consult and document. Based on the descriptions in the catalog, there should be at least 2 and hopefully substantially more watermarks (though hopefully not so many that I can't get them all in the course of this one visit, because who knows when I'll be back?).
Post-Kzoo Update, May 16, 2016
Being able to go for the entire conference this year was fantastic (once the travel screw-ups were overcome and I was actually there). Being able to present an even-more-functional version of Paperbound, even more so. I was able to connect with new acquaintances and old friends doing various aspects of DH and get some helpful pointers (like Nathan Oyler from U of Missouri-Kansas City [check out their awesome projects, btw] pointing me toward this most excellent tool, a lightsheet, which should make it easier to get well-lit photographs of watermarks, especially those still bound into codices. I was also told about/put in contact with several people who work with watermarks or do DH, and am really excited about the possibilities for collaboration there.
Here's a list of the planned updates/fixes that will be coming over the next couple weeks (provided that the last stages of dissertating don't eat me alive):
* Change the format of and relationship between Date and Location of Manufacture fields to reflect their paired nature
* Get the search by descriptors aspect working again
* Get the contributor and data index pages up
* Get back to UCSB Special Collections and take more pictures!
* Get back in touch with the Getty Museum and see if we can move forward on integrating their paper holdings
Prepping for Kzoo, May 11, 2016
One of the big things that's been happening behind the scenes in preparation for Kalamazoo is getting our descriptors to feed into the detailed result properly. This is tricker than it sounds, because in my version of the data, so as not to confuse the computer, I have them entered as descriptor_1, descriptor_2, etc. But you can't be expected to know which descriptor I've arbitrarily decided gets listed first, so we needed to write a couple lines of code to make them all equivalent. Turns out, this took a wee bit longer than anticipated. But now it's done, which means we've moved on to updating the search box yet again so that choosing a descriptor from the list actually gets it included in the search criteria. Turns out, it's all rather complicated. We'll get there, though. Petit à petit.
Exciting things! Also, the Search page is once again functional, Apr. 28, 2016
Obviously, the big one is the Search page, because none of the other updates even show up if you can't search for anything. Now that it is, however, you can see that we've done things like:
* Add a scroll bar to the Results column (search "shield" in the Type field and you'll understand why - even just 17 records gets to be a bit much, visually)
* Made the results and detail from the previous search disappear once a new search is run
* Made it so that I can easily modify the database that feeds to the webpage (so that there are fewer of those fields showing up as "unknown")
* Bound the Enter key to the Search button (so now your habit of just hitting Enter will actually do something)
Next up on the list (after my dissertation draft is in tomorrow and I've had a couple days to recover) are things like modifying the Search box to add the rest of the possible fields and fixing the auto-complete so that it's actually helpful.
Things are getting wonky on the search page!, Apr. 17, 2016
As of tonight, the entire sum of information for each individual watermark should be feeding dynamically when you click on the PPB ID button in the results column. However, we're still working from a slightly older copy of the data on the live site, which means that names of things are a little different. Hence, the images aren't currently willing to load properly outside of the results feed. Once we update, though, everying should be hunky dory.
I seem to have jumped the gun, as what's working in development isn't on the live site. Alas. Perhaps tomorrow.
The State of Paperbound, Apr. 8, 2016
We've been live for just over a week now, but if you've been poking around, you can see that there are more features than not that are still not fuctional. This post is to let you know what is, what's coming next, and what's going to be a bit of a wait.
Currently, the Search panel is functional, as are the search summary and results feed. The detail pages that should come from that results feed, however, all currently lead to the same page. That is the first order of business for this week, to get each item in the results list to return the appropriate page. In the course of doing that, the rest of the images currently comprising the collection will also go live, so you shouldn't see any more of those sad broken image boxes.
Another exciting feature is on the docket for the next month: the ability to click on a watermark image and see the full collection of photographs of that watermark. We're also going to be implementing a feature that will allow you to create a list of your own so that when you find those one or two watermarks that might be what you need, you don't immediately lose them again.
Finally, the Shelfmark and Watermark Index pages will also become useful over the next few weeks - there have just been some questions in terms of how we wanted to prepare them in anticipation of expanding the database from the current 68 records to the tens of thousands we hope it to eventually encompass.