Wednesday, March 9, 2011

T-PEN's Project Management

T-PEN is being designed to support both on-the-fly transcription and project-based work. The first occurs when a scholar simply wants to transcribe a few pages from a manuscript for another project, export the transcription and move on. Project-based transcription assumes more sustained work on a given manuscript, so much so that it may be a shared project. With that in mind, the T-PEN team has been developing a project management component. That page looks like this:

The Projects tab indicates which current project is active and what other projects you may have on the go. The central box lists some basic metadata (this will be superceded by a Dublin Core set, as well as the option for the user to upload their own DC set or a TEI-header). The last box has three functions: transcribe, the ability to remove images from MS set (for that user's purposes only) or to modify the image sequence. This last option can be very important for medieval manuscripts since some have been bound incorrectly and so the gatherings are out of order.

The Manuscript tab provides two additional project functions. It is not uncommon for scholars to have started an in situ transcription but did not have the time to finish it. Now that a digital copy of that manuscript is available, there's no reason why one has to start from scratch. Hence, users can upload a text-only file for line breaking. This means a user can align an existing transcription with the lines of the manuscript page, and then continue where they left off. We will demonstrate this function in a future post. Finally, individual users can modify the way the T-PEN application has identified the location of the lines on the manuscript page. While we have worked very hard to make this as accurate as possible, we have regularly only attained a 85% success rate. And, sometimes the lines on a manuscript page are not straight enough to permit good automated line parsing. Users can traverse the pages and make manual corrections. If they deem the automated parsing to be too deficient, they can elect to make their manual line identifications available to other users.

On the last tab, Collaboration, a project manager can administer his/her research group. They can add or remove users who are registered on T-PEN. Or, they can invite a colleague to join the project. Finally, any changes made to the project are noted in the activity log. This includes when a manuscript is added to the project, when a new collaborator joins the team (or leaves the team), when any changes are made to any transcription page and if any resequencing or manual line parsing has been completed.

We look forward to any comments on how to improve this component of our digital tool.


  1. First let me say that this is a lovely UI -- it's obvious that you've got some talented people working on T-Pen.

    I wonder if you'd post some more details on the activity list. I've been doing some work lately on displaying transcription activity as a mechanism for allowing users to organize their work and recognizing them for their contributions (see the FromThePage statistics for the Klauber field notes), and while we've had great success enabling users to identify pages in need of transcription, we'd like to do more. In particular, I'd like to be able to allow users to resume where they left off whenever they re-visit the system. I'd also like to enable users to identify pages that are unfinished, either because they have been marked as incomplete or because they are otherwise problemantic.

    Have you put any thought toward those goals?

  2. What kind of features are you planning to allow individual transcribers to manage their work? In particular, I'm wondering about enhancements to the activity list feature that would help a user resume where they'd left off, or display a list of their pages in an incomplete or problematic state -- thus directing them (or other users) towards work that needs review.

  3. Good questions, Ben. One thing we haven't shown yet is the landing page, where it shows a visual bookmark of the last page you worked on. And,when you do select the transcribe function from a project, it takes you to the last page of transcription--again assuming that you are there to pick up from where you left off (there is page navigation for each manuscript so you can move to another page fairly easily).

    As for review, that would require you to add your reviewer as a collaborator, and then (s)he would have access to all the work that has been completed. We would recommend using the activity log (to which any collaborator on a project can add an entry) as a way of flagging issues. We also are going to institute version control on a line by line basis, so that one can (re)edit a transcribed line, and not lose the previous version. In the end, the user can elect to say use version 1 of one line, but version 2 of another. The versioning system is not yet coded (that is set for the next sprint period of development).

    Does that make sense?

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