Monday, February 19, 2007

Threading Week 5 in BaW

This is kind of report on my BaW 07 threading experience – it might be of interest to other BaW threaders.

It is a tradition to create weekly threads in BaW EVO workshops, i.e. to sort the numerous weekly messages into groups for easier reference later, creating a valuable resource for everyone involved.

My threading voyage was pretty smooth due to info shared by my 07 threading predecessors (thank you Nina Liakos and Gladys Baya) and due to invaluable help of my private techie (thank you Miha). :-)

This is how it went.

  • I opened up a PB wiki on Sunday and tried playing around using Gladys and Nina's recipe, i.e. copying messages from our YG into the wiki using the new point-and-click –editor... I spent an hour or two exploring the wiki editors, tried copy pasting directly from YG, then from my Outlook's reader's digest; was not to happy with my efficiency – it took me ages for this copy-paste-edit stuff...
  • I started anew on Monday morning using MS Web Expression; created the threads page outline (table of contents, headings, tables, return to top links, etc.) and copy pasted day 1 messages from our YG (about 40) – took me about 4 hours (was also learning how to use the program from scratch)– a much more user friendly and efficient way for me than the previous one – but all in all, still quite time consuming ...

Meanwhile, watching me toil the whole Monday morning, my husband Miha created a 'threading' program over at his desk and talked me into trying it out, starting again.

  • I started anew for the 3rd time using Miha's threader – this took about an hour to re-do all the before mentioned work. It proved to be the most effective so I decided to stick to it. Using the program, it took about 15 minutes per digest (i.e. 25 messages), all in all an hour to two a day.

What does the program do?

  • extracts all the necessary information from my Outlook's digests (message No., author, contents),
  • allows to easily sort and group these messages (into groups and within the group),
  • allows to easily clean the messages (automatic removal of line breaks within the selected paragraph and automatic marking of hyperlinks) ,
  • allows to easily add links to photos (database of authors is generated automatically so I only need to add the link once per author - this is then linked to all the posts posted by the same person),
  • allows to easily adapt the width of columns,
  • and - last but not least – the program generates the code which can then be simply pasted into the wiki using classic editor.

What you see posted in the BaW wiki under week 5 threads has been generated using Miha’s program, slightly edited using MS Web Expression (I added the first table with threads related info, and corrected long links in messages which distorted tables) and then pasted into this wiki using classic editor.

Where to check the program?
http://cs.rthand.com/webheads/bawthreader/

How it works?

Threader works with reader's digests from 'sent items' folder in MS Outlook. Copying digests directly from inbox doesn't work (at least not on my computer) - it only works with copies from 'sent items' folder.

If you use MS Outlook, you can try it out.

  1. Install and run the program
  2. Copy the contents of reader's digest to be threaded and click 'parse' in the menu (remember to first forward the reader's digest to be threaded to an address, and copy its contents from 'sent items' folder (Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C)).
  3. Now you should see all the digest's messages in the top window ( if you don't see them, that's a problem :-( ).
  4. Select a message in top window, determine its level 1 and 2 groups (in the two textboxes by writing/selecting the name there - e.g. 'Week 3 Tools' and 'Blogs' ) and click 'add' buton; (group names can be later edited by clicking 'groups' button and editing the name; a message, which has already been sorted can also later be assigned a different group by clicking the group name at the bottom of the bottom right window),
  5. Threader fills all the required cells itself – the added message is visible in the bottom left window – message #, reply to #, date, author, contents, group) (if you've added the message to the wrong group, you can remove it using 'remove' button or change its group as described before in pt. 3).
  6. Once the message is added, find it and select it in the bottom left window - it's contents should now appear in the bottom right window. Clean the text using 'break' button for cleaning line breaks and 'hyperlink' button for marking hyperlinks appropriately.
  7. If necessary, move the selected message (bottom left window) up or down the group using 'up' and 'down' buttons.
  8. When all the messages are done this way, click 'tables' in the menu, choose 'groups' button and determine the desired order of groups/tables using 'up' and 'down' buttons. You can also edit the group names here if necessary. When happy with this, click 'close'.
  9. Click again 'tables' in the menu, choose 'authors' button and add links to photos to the authors database and correct display names if necessary (authors might sometimes not be recognized as the same persons, which means that you will have to add the photo link more times). When happy with this, click 'close'.
  10. Save.
  11. Click export, check the results, if happy with them, click 'copy' button, go to wiki / other HTML editor and paste the code. You should get the table of contents and the tables with messages and back-to-top links. All cells should be filled in appropriately. If not happy, return to threader and correct whatever bothers you (e.g. columns' width is adjustable after clicking 'settings' button in threader menu...) and repeat the export procedure.
  12. The threading part is thus done - what is yet missing is the introductory table with info about the weekly threads – copy it from one of the previous weekly threads pages and insert the code where it fits – I did this final editing using MS Web Expression and then copy pasted the code in the wiki. I found MS WE much more user-friendly than wiki editors, plus it's more comfortable to work on such ‘big’ files locally.

Note:

  • threader has only been tested using reader's digests copied from MS Outlook,
  • if you want threader to recognize a digest, you need to copy it from 'sent items' folder; (Outlook does something to digests when forwarded , which makes them readable),
  • authors are sometimes not recognized as the same persons and appear mentioned more times in the database (it is not a problem - you just have to add the photo link more times).

Can I use it?

YES. I think the program is worth checking if you volunteer for threading – it has done the tedious part for me letting me concentrate on contents without worrying about the format. You need to keep in mind though that it only works with Outlook digests since it has been designed for this purpose. If it works for you – feel free to use it. If it doesn't, I would go for a good HTML editor for doing the job and then copying the code into wiki.

Conclusion

Doing week 5 threading was an interesting experience – it's nice to play with the right tool for the job (THANK YOU Miha again, I'm not sure I could do this without you) - and it is a very rewarding feeling to be able to contribute at least a little to our wonderful community from which I have received so much. Thank you BaWers and 'ancient' webheads, it feels good to be part of you. I guess it would be a good idea to upgrade this BaW Threader to extract messages directly from our YG. This should then make life for BaW 08 threaders a bit more comfortable. What do you think?

Hugs,
Sasha - the wife of the king of threads ;-)

5 comments:

Dennis said...

Congratulations! And thank you both for what sounds like an extremely useful tool.

Dennis

Cora Chen said...

Dear Sasha ,
Congratulations to you for your wonderful job creating the threads! I really appreciate your documenting the process of doing the threads in detail. I have learned a lot from you. Also, many thanks to your brilliant husband Miha for his creation of this program.
Both of you have contributed a lot to the BAW group!
Kudos to both of you,
Cora
(in U.S.A.)

Cora Chen said...

Dear Sasha ,
Congratulations to you for your wonderful job creating the threads! I really appreciate your documenting the process of doing the threads in detail. I have learned a lot from you. Also, many thanks to your brilliant husband Miha for his creation of this program. Both of you have contributed a lot to the BAW group!

Kudos to both of you,
Cora
(in U.S.A.)

mmvcentro said...

Dear Sasha:
Congratulations to you and Miha!
Brilliant- clever minds oriented to share, hearts set on creating a smooth path to be used by unknown others in the future, souls travelling along towards a common goal... be there for one another.

I feel moved by you. Yet a long way to go to work with threads and prasing a wonderful work.

Love: Maru

Linda Rhinehart Neas with her Muse said...

Dear Sasha,

Many thanks for your kind comments on my blog.

Your blog is truly developing! Since we are "Slovenian sisters" I will keep in touch. It is so wonderful to meet someone from my grandparents' home country.

Congratulations on a great creation!

Peace and love, Linda