On the way to Brittany for Gouel Broadel ar Brezhoneg 2019

This weekend I’ll be taking part in Gouel Broadel ar Brezhoneg which will be an event held in Langoned, Brittany.

There are two things on my schedule:

  • a presentation about digital media in under-resourced languages including some discussion of my Wikipedia work and Twitter bots
  • and a DJ set of music from Wales.

I am looking forward to learning a few more rudiments of the Breton language, which has some similarities to the Welsh language, and practising during my time there.

Google and Bing do not offer a machine translation service for the Breton language but there is a basic machine translation service through Apertium.

New MediaWiki skin for Hedyn.net knowledge base

Hedyn.net has a new skin, Pivot, mainly because it has a responsive design and the previous one, Vector, does not. In other words it responds to screen sizes from laptop/desktop down to the smallest mobile phone.

I’m not sure why Wikipedia still runs Vector and continues to offer separate mobile and desktop versions. That’s another story.

If you want to check if a website design is responsive, just visit from a phone or tablet and compare it to laptop. Alternatively change the shape and size of the browser on your laptop and watch what happens..

Hedyn.net is a wici which has been running continuously for nine years to provide a knowledge base for Welsh-language web resources, e.g. a list of blogs in Welsh, ideas and planning for Hacio’r Iaith unconference events, and WordPress resources for website developers.

I visit Hedyn.net several times each week to access resources and look things up. Contributions are always welcome in the form of edits. I’m also trying to do more notetaking there as public-by-default, especially things which have no need to be kept private.

Cordon Sanitaire Wales: campaign website

Some organisations already follow a policy of ‘cordon sanitaire’ towards a particular UK political party which is well known for being racist and prejudiced.

I have created a simple bilingual website at cordon.cymru which is an effort to persuade Assembly Members from other parties in Wales to opposite this particular party through refusing to work with them on any level.

The recent cases of racist statements from politicians as well as racism in our communities are reminders of the need to do more.

The website text is self-explanatory. Thanks to others for writing it.

If you are concerned, as I am, about the growth of the far right in Wales send a message to your Assembly Members to ask for clarification of their policies concerning non-cooperation with the party.

Many other things need to be done of course – that is one of them.

A new game called Petrus

Petrus is a brand new game, which is very addictive.

(Well, when I say ‘new’ I mean new adaptation of an old favourite…)

It should work on mobile phones as well as personal computers, etc.

It’s a Welsh-language adaptation of a game by Github user Chvin, which in turn is based on the original concept by Alexey Pajitnov and Vladimir Pokhilko.

It’s been an opportunity for me to practise version control in Git, and look at the React library for the first time.

Here’s the code.

Petrus is the second game in an occasional series. More to come soon!

Pŵl Cymru – a new game

Here’s a browser-based game for you to enjoy, Pŵl Cymru.

It is a Welsh-language adaptation of a game by Chen Shmilovich, and works on computers only. It won’t work on phonees or mobile devices.

If you’re not fluent in Welsh then you will probably figure it out. 🙂

Diolch i’r rhai sydd eisoes wedi ei phrofi, ac i Chen Shmilovich am ddatblygu’r gêm yn y lle cyntaf. / Thanks to those who have already tried it, and to Chen Shmilovich for developing the game in the first place.

The code is on Github. I learned a bit about creating games in JavaScript during the process of adapting and translating it.. There is a complete book about the subject and plenty of other resources online.

Welsh Language Vowel Locator, a new web app

aeiouwy

Yn cyflwyno’r Welsh Language Vowel Locator.

This new web app is a fun way to learn that there are vowels in the Welsh language, despite what some online commentators insist!

It’s another one in the occasional series #GorauArfArfDysg.

Here are some of the recent tweets:

Map i Gymru: building an OpenStreetMap in Welsh

I’ve cross-posted this post on Open Data Institute Cardiff blog as well. Thanks to David Wyn Williams for his invaluable help on the post.

The draft map

Have a peek at this map of Wales, with place names in Welsh.

https://openstreetmap.cymru

Many people have never seen place names in Welsh such as Aberteifi, Treffynnon or Aberdaugleddau on an online map – or indeed any map.

These names have been used for many generations until the present day, from conversations to road signs to media. The Welsh-language Wikipedia, known to its users as Wicipedia Cymraeg, has articles bearing these names.

Nevertheless they are not usually offered or recognised by the well known proprietary map providers.

In order to build a map in Wales’ own language we at the project have drawn from freely licensed OpenStreetMap data, server software, and documentation. These are all the work of many contributors around the world, and to these people we are very grateful. We are also very thankful to the Welsh Language Unit of the Welsh Government who have funded this early work.

Building on the map

This is a draft map running on a prototype server. It gives you the ability to pan and zoom. As the developer on this project I am very pleased with the results so far.

I will introduce another feature very soon – the ability to embed this map on any website.

Nevertheless you might spot omissions or glitches while it’s being developed, and some big areas for functional improvement.

As I write this we have received a bundle of very useful place name data from the office of the Welsh Language Commissioner, which is itself the fruit of years of dedicated work. This is comprehensive down to the level of villages, and licensed under OGL.

Improving the data

This section contains background if you are interested in improving OpenStreetMap place names and other data.

Imports of the OSM data happen automatically overnight. Some pre-rendering of map tiles is also done, to speed things up.

The ideal OSM data set for place names in Welsh would have a name:cy tag for every single item. We are not there yet.

In the meantime my system uses name:cy tags and some name tags.

name:cy has highest precedence. If you want to add a definitive name in Welsh to anything, edit the map on osm.org and add a name:cy tag. You will need to create a user account if you don’t already have one. Provided your submission is accepted by the community this will guarantee its inclusion on the next nightly update.

Many name:cy tags already exist.

The challenge with the existing data is that some names that we want to use are currently only available from the name tag. That is, many places do not have a name:cy tag.

Understandably OSM contributors haven’t tended to add an identical name:cy tag for Morfa Nefyn, Abersoch, and hundreds of other villages and places.

I’ve tried rendering different versions of the map using different criteria. Enabling all name tags somewhat ruins the ethos and magic of having a map in Welsh. Then huge tracts of Wales vanished when I removed the name tags again!

So I have set the system to use name for these types of places only:

  • ‘village’
  • ‘hamlet’
  • ‘town’
  • ‘island’
  • ‘neighbourhood’
  • ‘square’
  • ‘farm’
  • ‘isolated_dwelling’
  • ‘locality’

For other elements I also have a white list and black list, e.g. ‘Ysgol’, ‘Capel’ and ‘Eglwys’ are on the white list, among others. We will tend to want names containing those words.

name:cy currently overrides all of this however. Do please add name:cy tags via osm.org if you spot errors or gaps, and they will also be available to other projects around the world.

Use and applications in the near future

What you see now is just one possible app that uses the underlying map infrastructure to show a map of Wales.

Having a map like this introduces many exciting possibilities in:

  • learning
  • exploration
  • navigation
  • play
  • research
  • communication

Cof y Cwmwd: wiki website about Uwchgwyrfai’s history

Here’s an item in Welsh for the TV programme Heno about Cof y Cwmwd, a new multi-author website about the Uwchgwyrfai area.

The purpose of the site is to collect and share historical information about the area, its institutions and people.

As web developer I have been working with Canolfan Hanes Uwchgwyrfai on this site, which is powered by MediaWiki server software.

People are now contributing pics and articles to the site.

Activity has increased today during the first Golygathon (Editathon) on the wiki, a community event to stimulate contributions. The Golygathon is headed by Jason Evans of the National Library of Wales, who is the Wicipediwr Preswyl (Wikipedian in Residence) and knows a great deal about growing wikis!

It’ll be very interesting to see how projects like Wikipedia and the new website Cof y Cwmwd share content between them in the future.

Pic of the Golygathon by Jason Evans