Moving the Dictionary
Over the last year we’ve been working on moving the Dictionary’s content on to a new platform hosted by the State Library of New South Wales.
Over the next few days you may notice some changes to the site as we flip the switch and start rolling out these modifications. We’ve had teams of volunteers testing and checking the data during this process but if you do notice anything decidedly odd which we’ve missed, like strange characters in the text or missing links, please let us know.
We have moved the Dictionary from an open source database platform called Heurist, which was developed by the former Arts eResearch unit at the University of Sydney, to Drupal 8, an open source content management system.
While you will notice some changes to the Dictionary on its new platform, as much as possible has been kept the same given the available resources and the disparity between the two platforms.
This has required a high degree of customisation and a lot of seriously impressive work from the incredible team at the Library in order to replicate as much of the Dictionary’s functionality as possible.
We have also been able to include some improvements to the site, like our new searchable and sortable Browse menus, which received several thumbs-ups from our volunteer testers. You’ll be able to search within each of these menus by an item’s title, and refine the search by type as well. You’ll even be able to sort entries in the Dictionary by publication date! These title searches are in addition to the Dictionary’s general search across the site, which is always available via the Search window in the right hand column.
The general search function does work slightly differently, so if you’ve regularly done a particular search on the Dictionary you may notice the results are not always in quite the same order as they were.
Credits and citations for images and multimedia material will now appear now when you scroll over a thumbnail so you’ll be able to see their source details immediately rather than having to click through to the full record.
The options to share a page in the Dictionary via social media or email have been modernised and enlarged and moved to the top of the page, so make the most of that!
We can now create ‘See Also’ connections between pages on the Dictionary, allowing us to do things like link historical entities with contemporary Dictionary contributors. Keep an eye out for those in the right hand column where an item’s ‘Connections’ sit.
We have had to lose some things for now like our overlaid maps sadly, but hope that in the future we may be able to look at these again if funding allows, and maybe even incorporate other additions and improvements.
The Dictionary URLs will remain the same or will be redirected permanently.
Moving the Dictionary onto this platform at the State Library ensures that its content will be archived and remain accessible, even after there is no longer funding to keep adding to the site, and we’re very grateful to the Library for making this possible.
This transition has been funded by a special grant from the City of Sydney Council, the Dictionary’s founding partner between 2006‐2016, and we’d like to thank them again for their long term support of the Dictionary of Sydney.