News from the machine room 1

The Lingscape app and project have been around for a while now, since we have published the first edition of the app in fall 2016. Together, we have already collected more than 14.500 photos, created more than 40 external projects, and attracted more than 600 active contributors. What a nice success! But as you know, technical development and updates to operating systems don’t make exceptions for citizen-science projects. Therefore, we need to keep up development to make sure sure the app remains operational and keeps growing alongside the needs of our users/partners. As a consequence, we will release an update for the app & platform soon (one of many to follow in the future, hopefully). This update will bring the following improvements:

  • Dedicated server: We will move the technical infrastructure and data to a dedicated server at the University of Luxembourg. This will make data handling and technical maintenance easier for us. At the same time it makes sure that all data is being processed within Luxembourg.
  • Pin clustering: Right now, every uploaded photo is represented by an individual pin on the in-app map. While this surely looks impressive for places, where we have already collected a lot of photos (just take a look at the screenshots from Luxembourg City and Vienna), it does slow down the in-app map significantly. Therefore, we will introduce pin clustering for the in-app map. Of course you will still be able to explore all photos individually, but on the lower zoom levels individual pins will be condensed to clusters to improve loading times.

In-app map: Pins in Luxembourg

In-app map: Pins in Vienna
  • English as default language: As our project keeps growing on an international level, we have decided to change the default language to English to make sure that as many people as possible can access and use the app. Right now, the default language is Luxembourgish. Of course the app will still recognize if you are operating your mobile in any of the other available languages (i.e., French, German, and Luxembourgish), but for those users who don’t have any of the available languages activated on their phones, the app will be displayed in English.
  • User-specific starting location: With the update, the in-app map will use your individual geolocation as a starting point for the in-app map. Right now, the starting location is Luxembourg. This will of course only happen, if you have granted the app permission to use your location while using the app. If not, you will still see Luxembourg at the beginning.
  • Multiple user accounts for projects: For those participants, who are running their own project on the Lingscape platform, the update will make it possible to assign multiple user accounts to a project. This can be helpful in cases, where different people or groups are contributing to the same project.
  • Data export: Once we have migrated the project to our new server, we will implement an easy way for project partners to export their project data. Right now, this can only be done by us, but of course you should have the possibility to do this on your own whenever you want to. So expect it to happen. However, this feature will take a bit more time compared to the rest.

If you have any suggestions for future updates and improvements, don’t hesitate to get in touch via lingscape[at]uni.lu or our social media accounts. We already have plans for some new features, including additional and customizable annotation categories (e.g., for regional varieties, discourse types, or scripts), but we are always happy to hear from you. After all, this project is for you.

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