Chronicling America Update

As usual, I’ve been crazy busy. We released a new version of my project at the Library of Congress on June 14th. The cut-over was nice and smooth, with only a few minutes of downtime while we switched over from the live application to the staged application. Our development team did a bang-up job on this release, with a bunch of new features, enhancements, clean-up, and about 80,000 more newspaper pages.

So, what’s new in Chronicling America version 1.1? For starters, we’ve put in place permanently-resolvable URLs, based on data derived from the paper’s and page’s metadata. Thus, we’re putting an explicit guarantee out there that the URL will always get you back to page 1 of the January 30, 1904 edition of the Washington Times. (For completeness’ sake, I should note that it actually gets you to image 1, not page 1. They aren’t always the same thing!) Similarly, stripping off various parts of the URL will lead to the appropriate places. For example, will get you to the directory record for the 1902-1939 Washington Times.

If you clicked on that page link, you’ll have no doubt noticed our new and shiny dynamic page viewer, inspired by similar UIs like Google Maps. It has all of the functionality of our old, clunky Flash viewer, while simultaneously being faster, prettier, and easier to use.

On the back-end, we made some pretty drastic improvements to the speed of our image rendering. Not only do we simply render images faster, but we also make more careful choices about how we ask for the images to be rendered, based on the information specific to each image’s JPEG 2000 service copy. Hopefully you’ll find the system quite a bit more responsive.

And, of course, there are roughly 80,000 new pages in the system. That brings our grand total to up over 300,000 - and counting! Expect even more in the future.