“Word-level image coming soon”

Seeing an image alongside each transcribed dictionary is important. Many of the features of 18th century print can’t be reproduced in Unicode. And our goal is to make Johnson’s dictionary as easy to access as a modern dictionary, which means that even if we could reproduce the print exactly, we wouldn’t want to do it. The dictionary’s 18th-century print conventions, such as the long s, make the dictionary harder for modern readers to read.

The entry images give you the best of both worlds. You can see the entry in its original font, with original brackets, ligatures, spacing. And you can easily compare it to our modern transcription, verifying for yourself that our transcription is accurate. (If you spot any problems, please click “Feedback” on the right edge of the screen and let us know!)

We’ve been working on these images for more than two years now, and we’ve even had help from custom software written specifically for us by a computer science design team. So why do so many entries still display a placeholder image that says “word-level image coming soon”?

Placeholder for an entry image

What is the hold-up? Where are the remaining entry images?

The answer: we’re making them as fast as we can. The original set of images needs to go through a “QA” process where we verify that the image is complete, accurate, and attached to the correct transcription. Sometimes the images have too many entries:

This entry has two headwords (Bad and Bade) linked with a bracket to the same definition, but only one headword shows up here.

Or not enough of one entry:

Two separate entries are stuck together in this image.

Or other information (such as catchwords) caught in the middle of an entry:

The catchword “There” is stuck in the middle of this image.

Or (as shown in a previous post) multiple entries are smashed together in one beautiful Franken-image. And even when the image is perfectly cropped and merged, it is very easy for an image of whereinto to get wrongly attached to the entry for whereunto.

This QA process can only be carried out by a human being, and most of us can verify 3-4 pages worth of images per hour, and we have about 4500 pages of images to check. When we find problems, we set that image aside to be recreated. The second time around, it’s a human being who crops out the pieces of the entry and stitches them together; periodically we upload a batch of new images for another QA check.

We believe the finished result is definitely worth the trouble! But the process is not fast.

Soon, we expect to link each entry to its full-page image. You can also already view full-page images by choosing “View Printed Pages” from the Dictionary menu.

View Printed Pages in the Dictionary menu

The full-page images help to bridge the gap while we are still creating the entry images. Stay tuned!