Embedding Visualisations

Since my last blog post I’ve been trying to embed Cirrus word clouds from Voyant on WordPress.com, and it hasn’t worked. The reason why I was keen to find out how the embedding of Voyant visualisations works is that in our Digital Modernisms course we’re working on an Omeka project that (ideally) should include a couple of more or less animated visualisations of modernist texts. Some Voyant Tools, including Cirrus, provide the option to export an HTML snippet of the tool with the currently used data (i.e. the text uploaded/linked by the user) that can then be embedded on other websites. The HTML tag used for this is <iframe> tag, which, as I found out after a while, sadly is “not allowed on WordPress.com for security reasons”.

Now, with regard to Cirrus it might seem that a screenshot of the visualisation would be just as good as the real thing, but for several reasons I don’t think it is. For instance, in Cirrus the word cloud ‘assembles’ itself when you open the site. While that is admittedly a little more flashy than just having an image/screenshot load, the word cloud also looks different every time. The size of the individual words does not change of course, because it depends on the total occurrences of each word in the text (the more occurrences, the bigger the word) but the positioning and the colours do differ each time the tool is opened. Since part of the appeal of using Voyant Tools in literary studies is that they can provide a distanced, abstract view of the text, it does matter if that view is always the same or if it changes. Furthermore, when hovering over a word in Cirrus, a tool tip showing the total number of occurrences of that word will pop up, which you also don’t get in a screenshot. It’s also worth pointing out that other exportable tools are even more interactive and animated. Hence, a screenshot might suffice for demonstration purposes, but especially for the Omeka project it would be nice to implement interactive visualisations.

So what about embedding iframes in Omeka? Well, there does seem to be a plugin for Omeka that specifically enables the implementation of iframes (see “Embed Codes” on http://omeka.org/add-ons/plugins/). Having noticed this I immediately started experimenting with iframes on Omeka.net. However, I soon found out that the ‘light’ version of Omeka that can be used on Omeka.net does not seem to allow the implementation of  iframes either. Thus, I will ultimately have to play around with iframes on the server version that we’ll be using for our project. Since the section on embedding codes in the above link seems to be compatible with version 2.0 of Omeka, I’m hopeful that we’ll ultimately be able to include Voyant Tools in our project, but before we do I intend to do some more research on WordPress.com’s “security reasons” for not allowing iframes. Pretty as they may be, I’ve grown somewhat weary of iframes and don’t think that they’re worth risking our precious Omeka server’s health.

Exam No. B054532

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