Archive for September, 2008

Unified map interface

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

With now three big map views in WALS Online (for features, combined features and language families) it was time to unify the user interface for these maps. With this rework we also wanted to enhance the printing experience for WALS Online maps.

Since the easiest way to print WALS Online maps is via screenshots, we wanted to provide more flexibility in rearranging the screen layout of our maps. Now

  • you can resize the big maps,
  • drag the legend to any position on the screen,
  • hide the legend.

We also added the functionality to display a list of languages for a certain set of values to all big maps. Clicking on the number of languages for a certain value in the legend will display this list above the map. Clicking on one of these languages will open the corresponding info window for the language marker on the map.


  • When resizing the map containers you may have to drag around the map a bit to stipulate loading of the missing map tiles to fill the container.
  • Printing of the underlying Google Maps is subject to Google’s permission guidelines.

Corrections for genealogical data

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

The following changes of the genealogical data in WALS Online have just been put online:

  1. The genus Eastern Saharan has been renamed to Western Saharan.
  2. The genus Lule-Vilela has been renamed to Lule.
  3. The family Sko has been renamed to Skou and it’s genealogy rearranged:
    • The languages formerly listed under genus Eastern Sko are now listed as languages of the Serra Hills genus (Poko-Rawo, Womo).
    • The languages formerly listed under genus Serra Hills are now listed as languages of genus Western Skou (Dumo, Skou).
    • There is no genus “Eastern Sko(u)” anymore.
    • The language Sko has been renamed to Skou.

The URLs for the superseded genus and family names should redirect properly to the new ones. unresolvable

Friday, September 12th, 2008

For the last couple of months we have been waiting for a domain transfer from the provider with which we initially hosted to the AEI. Yesterday it finally happened. Unfortunately we only found out about it, because the former provider’s DNS server did not resolve to our machine’s IP address anymore. So until we got our DNS server configured to resolve the website was not reachable.

Starting from around 12 pm CEST yesterday, everything should be back to normal.

New Functionality

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

During the last week I refactored quite a bit of the WALS Online application and while at it, implemented some new functionality.

Some time ago Hans-Jörg Bibiko made me aware of a nuisance in the way feature maps are drawn: The layering of icons was more or less random. So in a first step to remedy this, I made sure icons for the same value are drawn in the same layer and the layers are ordered by decreasing number of associated languages, so that icons for rare feature values will not be hidden. To make the layering completely configurable, the drawing order can now be changed by dragging-and-dropping values in a new control at the bottom of a feature’s values page (as shown in the screenshot from Feature 50).

Another functionality suggested by Hans-Jörg was a bigger map for language families. I implemented this map view as separate page which can be reached from the regular family page, and configured from there as well. As an example, look at the map for the Austro-Asiatic family.

For details about these changes see the complete changeset.