Data Conversion into FLEx

Dictionary & Lexicography Services' goal is to display a dictionary on Webonary for the world to see and to give the linguist a Flex (Fieldworks Language Explorer) version of the dictionary.

Why Flex? Toolbox is no longer fully supported by SIL and Flex is integrated with Webonary so that you will be able to make changes and (re)publish your dictionary to Webonary as often and as many times as you like.

The process to achieving the goal is: Conversion, Export and Upload to Webonary.

1. Conversion: The linguist’s dictionary may have been compiled using Toolbox, Showbox or some other software. DLS will convert the Toolbox database files in a way which allows us to import them into Flex.

Both Toolbox and Flex construct records by using tags defined by the linguist. The tags and the record structures used in Toolbox may not be the same tags and record structures as Flex understands. So part of the conversion process is to figure out which tags have identical, or similar meanings in both Toolbox and Flex.

\lx (Lexeme) is a good example of tags that have a one-to-one mapping. If there is no clear one-to-one mapping, a conversion specialist must understand how best to represent a Toolbox tag, or a structure, in Flex.
It may be necessary to combine several Toolbox tags into one Flex tag to achieve the same meaning. What I meant by combine is to transform or process a Toolbox database file using Perl scripts to create a single entry for Flex. Here's an example from Migrating PLB SFM data to Flex or LIFT by Jonathan Coombs:

Combine Crucially ordered fields such as \ad \rf \ad
Replace all sequence of \rf \ad (root-form derviational-affix) with a single field. For example replace...
\rf arkhaw
\ad -an
\deriv arkhaw + -an
Otherwise importing them as separate fields will not preserve the information implied by their order....

The conversion specialist and the linguist must be in conversation about the dictionary. DLS does not want to lose any information during the conversion, so the conversion specialist will ask questions about the Toolbox database files. The linguist’s answers guide the conversion specialist in understanding what changes are needed to the Toolbox database files in order for Flex to give a proper rendering of the dictionary.

2. Export: After converting the Toolbox database files into Flex, it is simple to generate (xhtml) files to be displayed on Webonary. Xhtml files are files which can be viewed in any browser.

3. Upload to Webonary: Once the xhtml files are created, it is a manual process to upload them to Webonary. *This will be changing soon so that both exporting and uploading to Webonary will be an automatic one step process.

Once the xhtml files are uploaded to Webonary, the conversion specialist and the linguist again need to be in conversation. Are there any changes that should be made? The conversion specialist may need to go back and make changes in Flex based on the conversation. After changes are complete, the xhtml files will be generated again, and uploaded. This may happen several times until the linguist is satisfied with the results. This is an iterative process.

When the linguist is satisfied with the results, there will be a final review, and the dictionary will be made public. Prior to this, the dictionary is in draft mode.

After the Flex conversion is complete and we've published the dictionary, the conversion specialist will deliver the Flex version of the dictionary to the linguist.

*Webonary is not interactive in the sense that you will be able to navigate to the Webonary site and affect any of the information displayed. However - the newest version of Flex, now in beta test, gives the linguist the ability to make changes in Flex, and with a single command republish the dictionary. This automation allows a linguist to make changes to the public dictionary on the fly.

4. Advanced information:

There are more Helps and Tutorials on

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