Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, August 06, 2010

Andie Bynres and I didn't like the design for our magazine site so I have embarked upon a complete rebuild of the site.  The big advantage is that I now know much more about WordPress than I did before - such as how to create plugins.  I've therefore just moved the functionality for displaying hieroglyphs into a plugin.  If you are interested in what the plugin can do so far, there is a very early draft of a user guide. (Warning, that's a link into the new site and while I am working on it, it might not work reliably.  It's very much a building site.)  Please pay no attention to the format as that will be rebuilt next week.  At the moment it is stripped down to something very raw.

The idea of a plugin is that it can be added to any WordPress site and I will release it as open source code when it is finished.  It is still in alpha development and I expect it will be several months before the plugin is ready for public release via the WordPress repository.   It is also a very big plugin with a couple of thousand files and will probably be 20Mb or more when it is finished.

There are obvious flaws still.  For example, cartouches don't align perfectly and I would like to do more with ligatures.  At present, it is also limited to the Gardiner set of glyphs but I am fairly certain I can extend it to allow the full set of glyphs in the Aegyptus font without needing the user to have the font installed.  Progress will depend how much spare time I have.

It amuses Andie that I have developed this without being able to read hieroglyphs, which means the formatting might be totally wrong for some combinations.  It is chicken and egg though.  Andie is promising to write some tutorials for our new site which will teach me hieroglyphs, but we need the plugin to present those tutorials.  Expect an iterative process!

(January 2011: version 1.1 of WP-Hiero is now available.)


Andie said...

Actually "amuses" hardly captures it. I find it so funny! We decided we needed hieroglyphs for the site so Kate just woke up one morning and thought "I know, I'll just parse MdC" and off she went and did it. I tried to think up possible pitfalls, like honorific transposition, but nothing daunted her. She claims to know only three hieroglyphs, but I suspect I am having my leg pulled just a little.

Anonymous said...

So much bragging, so little modesty. Get real.

Amy Calvert said...

What a great resource that will be! Looking forward to the release of this very useful plugin. Thanks for taking on such a project, Kate!

Marianne Luban said...

This is more confusing than DNA! Who uses the plugin and how? But one thing I do know for sure--one doesn't "learn hieroglyphs". Well, I guess one can quickly memorize the ones that correspond [more or less] to the English alphabet, but I don't know how much good that will do--unless one wants to be able to recognize names within cartouches. That much is not so difficult and a useful endeavor. But, in reality, the ancient Egyptian graphic system contains about 700 signs and the language, itself, is a complex one. It takes years to be able to read hieroglyphic texts with any kind of fluency--and there is also hieratic, or the cursive version of the same. Nothing beats a limited alphabet for ease in reading and writing. That is why eventually even the Egyptians adopted one, the Greek, and that is why Coptic, the final stage of Egyptian, is written in the same, utilizing a few demotic letters to convey phonemes not contained in the Greek alphabet. Anyway, good luck. The study of the Egyptian language can become addictive. I know!

Kate Phizackerley said...


Yes, I freely admit to shameless bragging. I don't do it all that often but in this case it was a lot of work and I am proud of it because I initially thought it impossible.

Kate Phizackerley said...

@Amy, Marianne

Thanks. What really excites me is that it could be used in a forum so that hieroglyphs could be discussed with the glyphs displayed in the messages in the thread.

And yes it is totally compulsive.

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