Tuesday, June 10, 2008


iSpecies was off-line for a few hours today. I moved it from a local folder in my user folder to the /Library/Server folder on the web server, and associated ispecies.org with it's own IP address (although it is still served from the same machine). Glasgow University's DNS seems takes a while to update, so consequently the site appeared to be broken. A quick external check using Network-Tools.com confirmed that ispecies.org had the new IP address, but locally it was still resolving to the holding page of 123-reg, with whom I registered the domain. By fussing with the VirtualHost directive in the Apache httpd.conf file, I managed to get it working again.
DocumentRoot "/Library/WebServer/ispecies"
ServerName ispecies.org
ServerSignature email
DirectoryIndex index.php index.html index.htm index.shtml
LogLevel warn
HostNameLookups off
<Directory "/Library/WebServer/ispecies">
allow from all
Options +Indexes

The only difference users may notice is that the URLs will now always start with http://ispecies.org.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wikipedia on iSpecies

I've added snippets from Wikipedia to iSpecies results, in part inspired by FreeBase. This makes use of the XML export format . For example, the URL http://en.wikipedia.org / wiki / Special:Export / Luzon_Montane_Forest_Mouse returns XML, with the wiki markup enclosed in the tags <text xml:space="preserve"></text> I use some simple regular expressions to strip some of the markup out, including the taxobox, then I grab the first 100 words of the article to display on the iSpecies page (together with a link to the original article).

Because a species may have multiple names, we need to handle redirection. For example, the URL http://en.wikipedia.org / wiki / Special:Export / Apomys_datae returns
<text xml:space="preserve">#Redirect [[Luzon Montane Forest Mouse]]</text>

which tells us that the content is to be found at http://en.wikipedia.org / wiki / Special:Export / Luzon_Montane_Forest_Mouse.

There's still some polishing to do, but the Wikipedia snippets add something to the iSpecies results.