Future development has four goals:
- Tidy up to support publication via the WordPress plugin repository
- Extension to cover some of the missing functionality
- Addition of administrator options, especially cache management
- Support for further fonts
- Bug fixes
- Red cartouche and serekh enclosures are only partially implemented: the closures are in place but the bounding lines are showing in black rather than red.
- Unknown glyph codes should be displayed in English, not as a set of boxes. Various other error detection routines should be added.
To a certain extent, the development plan will be reactive based on what functionality is needed to support the EO sites and the articles we carry. A number of priorities have already been recognised:
- Transliteration – there is a clear need to support a transliteration font and to add tables on monoliertals etc. Development of initial transliteral support has been completed and is undergoing testing.
- Additional Font Support – Egyptological Hieroglyphs comprises two layers: a) parsing and presentaton and b) glyph creation and caching. The intention is to complete this separation and treat each as a separate plugin. At that point, additional fonts can be added simply by releasing additional glyph creation plugins. The coloured images used in Glypheer are likely to form the basis of another glyph creation plugin, together with a brush font for a more informal style. Different glyph sets can be accommodated. Including the full Aegyptus set remains a long term goal, but the PHP library routines are unable to read that font and conversion is needed to make it accessible.
- Caching -The present cache is primitive with all cached images in one folder (albeit a separate folder for each font). This should be improved. Error detection routines are needed in case the font is not writable. Routines to list and clear caches should be added, along with options to turn cache read/writes off at a site level. A routine to pre-populate the cache with basic glyphs would improve efficiency.
There is also a need for a sandbox so that people can try out MdC entering MdC strings in a comment. Consideration is being given to recoding some or all of the parsing/presentation layer in Javscript to permit an AJAX sandbox. Most likely, this will be a cut down version without shading for damage etc.
Egyptological Hieroglyphs is compatible with all WordPress caching plugins. Once glyph images have been cached, there will no PHP calls within cached pages. This is fundamental to site efficiency. However, the downside is that pages may need to load very many small images which takes time. It may be possible to use sprites for each letter of the sign list. A CDN may also help.
The intention is to release a version of Egyptological Hieroglyphs once it can be packaged to meet licensing requirements. It relies upon the New Gardiner font which is only licensed by its creator for non-commercial use; however, if I distribute it as a WordPress plugin I have to release under a GPL-compatible licence and which therefore cannot contain a non-commercial restriction for the font.
To address this, the plugin has beeen designed as two separate modules with no code integration so that one section can be released under GPL and a separate section released under a non-commercial licence. Release is expected during summer 2011.