Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Re-using Oracc content for online teaching

As we get ever closer to the new academic year, I’d like to remind you of various ways in which you can re-use the free, open-access cuneiform content on Oracc.org:

  1. Basics: Start with http://oracc.org/doc/help/visitingoracc/reusingoracc/index.html for simple ideas that anyone can use without a login: from creating links to lists of texts to embedding whole texts in your own web page. 
  2. Next steps: go to http://oracc.org/doc/help/visitingoracc/citingurls/index.html for instructions on linking via key-words and glossary entries if you’re a bit more confident with HTML (again, no login required). 
  3. If you have an Oracc login and know how to use it: see my old blog post at https://oracc.blogspot.com/2018/07/creating-proxy-parasite-project.html for guidance on creating your own bespoke “proxy” project if you want to create a whole corpus of texts for your class. For example, an old example of mine, that pulls in material from across many Oracc projects is http://oracc.org/cams/tlab which I built for an undergrad class, “Temple Life in Assyria and Babylonia”, a few years ago. 
  4. If you’d like to learn how to make your own “proxy” project but don’t have a login or need a refresher, I’ll be running an interactive online workshop on Thursday 20 August (4pm UK time = 11 am US East Coast, 5pm mainland Europe, 6 pm Iraq, etc). Because I will need to issue Oracc logins in advance, and give proper tutorial support during the session, I have capped attendance at 12 people. Please sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/oracc-for-online-teaching-tickets-116639651337 and I’ll be in touch with more details. If there’s enough demand, I’ll run extra sessions.
I hope this is all self-explanatory but if you have any questions or problems, please leave me a comment below.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Creating a proxy (parasite) project

Notes for the Oracc workshop participants at RAI64, Innsbruck, July 2018. Updated for the Oracc for online teaching workshop, August 2020

Setting up

  1. I've emailed you your password and userID. Let me know if you haven't got it or if it doesn't work!
  2. Get yourself a free FTP programme such as Fugu, Cyberduck or WinSCP. You'll use this a lot to upload stuff to Oracc. Make sure you use SFTP (secure FTP) when you log in to build-oracc.museum.upenn.edu (you can't log in with insecure FTP.)
  3. You'll also need to connect to Oracc with a line-command unix terminal, to give commands to Oracc. Read this page for basic instructions on how to find and use one, including how to change your Oracc password.


  1. Creating a list of texts for your corpus
    • On your own computer, make a list of the P-numbers and/or Q-numbers you want in your corpus. Follow these instructions (but ignore the last sentence as I've already done that for you).
    • Save it as a text-only file with the name proxy.lst.
  2. Uploading your text-list to Oracc
    • Open your FTP programme and log in to build-oracc.museum.upenn.edu on the SFTP setting. Use your Oracc user ID and password.
    • You'll see a list of folders, most of which begin with 00. Look for 00lib and open it by double-clicking.
    • Drag and drop your proxy.lst file into this folder. You can edit and replace it as many times as you like, but make sure the file name stays the same.
  3. Building your corpus
    • Open Terminal or PuTTy and type: ssh [your userID]@build-oracc.museum.upenn.edu. Press return, enter your password, and press return again.
    • The first time you do this you'll get a scary message about security. Typ yes and continue.
    • Now you're in Oracc. Type oracc build clean and press return to build your project from proxy.lst.
    • When the process has finished, see what it looks like at http://build-oracc.museum.upenn.edu/[your user ID].

You can repeat steps 4–6 as many times as you like.

Next steps

  1. Organising your corpus into lists
    • If you want your texts to appear all together online but want to link to groups of them from your VLE, for instance to set weekly readings, you have two choices.
    • Both are described on Oracc here.
  2. Organising your corpus into subprojects
    • If you're using Oracc for several different classes, or want to keep each week's corpus separate, then you can very simply set up one or more subprojects. Each of them behaves like its own project. 
    • See the Oracc website for more information
  3. Building your glossary/glossaries
    • In the Terminal or PuTTy, type: oracc harvest. Press return. This command "harvests" all the available lemmatisations in your corpus across all ancient languages and the proper nouns. It will also generate a list of glossaries with the number of new entries in each.
    • Merge those entries, glossary by glossary, by typing: oracc merge [lang-code], e.g., oracc merge sux or oracc merge akk-x-stdbab or oracc merge qpn and press return.
    • If you want, there are more detailed instructions on the Oracc website.
    • Follow the instructions under step 4 to build the new glossary entries into the website.

Going further

  1. Managing the look and feel of your corpus
  2. Creating an XTML portal page/site for your corpus
  3. Editing your corpus
Contact me for a further tutorial on any or all of these things — and/or read up on the Oracc website.
Also contact me if any of this is wrong or confusing please!

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

RAI64 workshop resources

This post links to the online resources used in Eleanor's part of the Oracc workshop at RAI64 in Innsbruck, 18 July 2018.

  1. New Easy Oracc (NEO)
  2. Nammu text-editor
  3. Virtual Oracc projects for teaching

Monday, 9 April 2018

Planning for Oracc projects

Are you planning to apply for large-scale funding to work on an Oracc-related project?

If so, please consult the Oracc Steering Committee (OSC) as early as possible in the process (osc@oracc.org). We’ve recently seen some big and exciting project proposals rejected because they didn’t meet the funding body’s technical expectations.

We can help you maximise your chances of funding success by helping you to:

  • develop your proposal in line with the latest appropriate methods and theories in digital humanities;
  • write a convincing technical plan
  • construct a realistic timetable for staff training, data input, and/or data extraction and analysis;
  • review whether Oracc has the resources and functionalities that your project needs or needs to be developed further;
  • plan and budget for time for a member of the Oracc Steering Committee and/or the RITS programming team at UCL to work on your project;
  • develop an appropriate set of outputs, outreach and dissemination strategies.

If you need to work on Oracc without funding, or on a shoe-string budget, as many colleagues do, go ahead and get in touch with us too, at osc@oracc.org. We are fundamentally committed to offering free support and resources to everyone who needs them.

Friday, 2 March 2018

The Oracc Advisory Committee

The Oracc Advisory Committee (OAC) will work with the Oracc Steering Committee (OSC) to broaden the consultative framework within which Oracc planning and implementation takes place.

The OAC’s responsibilities are to work with the OSC on various matters relating to Oracc development, maintenance, use and evangelism. The OAC will develop the agendas for the meetings and advise the OSC on matters of interest and concern, and on the priority of those matters.

The OAC will be constituted as a group of up to 6 members, with 3 joining the group in year one; a further 3 in year 2; and an annual rotation of up to 3 members after that. Initial terms will be for two years, renewable for up to a further two years.

The OAC will meet regularly via Skype and annually in person, with the first face-to-face meeting taking place in Philadelphia on Monday/Tuesday 5-6th November 2018. Some travel funds may be available to support those attending the face-to-face. In addition, members of the Steering Committee and the Advisory Committee present at the annual Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale will have a “working lunch”, typically on the Wednesday of the meeting.

How to apply

Please send a letter of interest, stating briefly why you would like to join, with a CV (two pages maximum) to the ORACC Steering Committee osc@oracc.org before April 25th 2018. We will get back to you by mid-May.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The new oracc serve command

If you are managing a project please read this.

In the new buildserver/webserver architecture projects work on the build machines and only send stuff to the webserver when they are satisfied it is ready.  Only public projects and subprojects can be sent to the webserver.

While your work is not on the webserver you can still use it on the buildserver, which also functions as its own Oracc website.  There is no need to send projects to the webserver to see how they look--you can do that on the buildserver.

In order to get a project onto the webserver you need to follow several steps:

1) make the project public by setting <public>yes</public> in 00lib/config.xml

2) oracc build

3) ask one of the steerers (Steve, Eleanor, Jamie, Niek) to rebuild the project list

4) oracc serve

5) wait until the next 10-minute mark, and a minute or two after that.  The webserver looks for new data on the tens, so new data won't show up until a few minutes after that

I'm going to remove (3) when I have some time, but probably not for several weeks.

New ATF mode files for Emacs

I have updated the ATF mode files for Emacs to work with the new build servers.

In addition to this, I have added an upgraded dead-key mode written by Niek Veldhuis.

Instructions for how to use this are in the file oracc-init.el but here they are for convenience:

;; If your project is on build-oracc use the first oracc-build definition,
;; otherwise use the second.  Use a semi-colon at the start of the line to
;; comment out the definition you don't need.

(setq oracc-build "build-oracc.museum.upenn.edu")
; (setq oracc-build "oracc.ub.uni-muenchen.de")

;; If you prefer to use the slash (virgule, /) as the dead key for the Oracc
;; Emacs keyboard, use the first definition.  Otherwise use the second to make comma
;; your prefix key--this is more user-friendly if you are using a German keyboard. 
;; Use a semi-colon at the start of the line to comment out the definition you
;; don't need.

(setq oracc-prefix "slash")
; (setq oracc-prefix "comma")

Please note that Niek's former documentation about selecting atf-mode_de.el no longer applies as I have replaced this with the oracc-prefix variable.

For information on getting and installing (in case it has been a long time) see: