Tag Archives: IT

Creating Tone fields in Fieldworks 7.0.6~beta7 (not useful for WeSay 0.9.28.0+)

Creating Tone Fields by the Method Native to FLEx –The Better Way

(N.B.: this entry started with FW7.05~b5 and WS0.9.28, though I’m finishing it on FW7.06~b7 and WS1.1.11. Some of the screenshots may look different between these versions, but I haven’t noticed any difference in functionality with regard to these fields.)
After creating custom fields in this way for tone and plural forms, I found that tone fields are already accounted for in FLEx, though not particularly transparently. There is a set of pronunciation fields, which can be inserted here:

This option puts the set of pronunciation fields in the record you’re editing, not the whole database. It gives tone, as well as a couple other fields. It looks like this in FLEx:

What’s nice about this is that you can do this a number of times, for the same entry. This gives you the chance to have a number of pronunciations, in different contexts –which is important in phonology, especially with regard to tone. The “Location” field is an empty, customizable field, so I presume we could put things like “Before a High Tone” or “phrase finally” or whatever there, then know that that pronunciation is valid for that context. Filling in some bogus data, we see the following in FLExː

Under the Hood

The above results in the following in the appropriate entry of the LIFT file:

<pronunciation>
<form lang=”gey”><text>ba</text></form>
<field type=”cv-pattern”><form lang=”en”><text>CV</text></form>
</field>
<field type=”tone”><form lang=”en”><text>?H</text></form>
</field>
</pronunciation>
<pronunciation>
<form lang=”gey”><text>bad</text></form>
<field type=”cv-pattern”><form lang=”en”><text>CVC</text></form>
</field>
<field type=”tone”><form lang=”en”><text>?HF</text></form>
</field>
</pronunciation>

So each pronunciation has a form/text set of nodes, and fields with type attributes for each of the visible fields with data in FLEx. Note that these fields are formatted exactly the same as the fields we created earlier here and here, that is

<field type=”NameofFieldinFLEx”>
<form lang=”LanguageCode”>
<text>Field Contents</text>
</form>
</field>

The only difference here is that the fields are under a <pronunciation> node, and not directly under the entry itself. But the fact that these fields are grouped together under repeatable pronunciation nodes should mean that we can organize contextually dependent pronunciation (tone or segmental) fields.

Sorting on Pronunciation Fields

I tried sorting on individual pronunciation nodes in FLEx, but wasn’t immediately impressed. I tried sorting the above fields for those with CVC in the cv-pattern, and this is what I got:

One can see that the entry is filtered, not the set of pronunciation fields. When working with Toolbox, it was possible to filter on either of a repeated field within an entry. Recalling that this was only when sorting on that field (therefore producing a record for each of the multiple fields), I tried that in FLEx, and it worked:

Note that there is only one pronunciation field listed, and the pronunciation form and tone fields listed are those that correspond to the CV field that was selected in the filter.
This data structure would also allow one to select only particular tone patterns, such as with an XPath expression like pronunciation[/field[@type=’cv-pattern’]/form/text = ‘CVC’]/field[@type=’tone’]/form/text to get the information in the tone field under only those pronunciation nodes that also have CV fields with ‘CVC’ in them.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to see these fields in WeSay (yet, I hope: see this bug report). Which is sad, because this is otherwise the best way to indicate tone in FLEx.

===Poetic Interlude===
I wrote most of the above several months ago, and had forgotten that I had worked this much out, until I ran into the problem of bulk editing on these fields. A quick Email to <Flex_Errors at sil.org>, and a fairly rapid response later, and I was back in business. When I went to write it up, I found the above in my drafts folder…
===End of Interlude===

So I’ve been doing a lot of data collection in the last couple months using the above paradigm, keeping different tone fields separate by their sibling location fields. I have XSL transforms to add this data to a LIFT file, and some reports to pull it out later, but how to mess with it in the mean time, should I need to? To get bulk editing on these fields to work, I needed two things:

  1. to sort on ‘pronunciation’ or one of it’s children (this I had apparently already figured out, but forgotten)
  2. to select the right columns for viewing in the bulk edit view.

Selecting the right columns for viewing in the bulk edit view

In case it isn’t obvious, the visible columns in the bulk edit view determine what fields you can act on. If “Lexeme” isn’t visible, you can’t copy to or from it, or modify it with a regular expression. So first, you need to make the fields you’re looking for visible, which is done through a dialog you can access by clicking in the upper right corner, with tooltip “Configure which columns to display”:

When you click on this, you get a menu of a number of (recently selected?) fields. To access other fields, to change column ordering, or to select language options, select “More column choices…” at the bottom:

This gives you access to the following dialog, where you can find fields not on the above list, select which of a number of writing systems you want to see (and therefore Bulk Edit). The Arrows on the right allow you to move the fields up and down (moving columns left and right on the Bulk Edit screen):

One trick that may not be obvious is that the ‘Tone’ field under ‘Pronunciation’ is available here as ‘Tones’. I presume this is because there are potentially a number of different Tone fields (as in my case). This is the same for ‘Location’ > ‘Locations’ and ‘CV Pattern’ > ‘CV Patterns’.

Sorting on Pronunciation Columns

Once all the fields you’re interested in are in the “current columns” (right) side of that dialog, you can select a column to sort on (showing light blue triangle). Selecting ‘Pronunciations’ gives three lines for this entry, and proclaims “Pronunciation” at the top of the page for slower ones like me.

If you’re in a context where you want to sort on two of these fields (if one doesn’t uniquely sort them, as the screenshot above), you can select one, then shift-select another, which will give a secondary sort (and a smaller triangle) as in the following:

Here the location is the first sort, then the tone. Note that the pronunciation form isn’t sorted (a…z…k…a), though the duplicate HAfter-sg field for titi is (correctly) showing up as another pronunciation/tone field (with pronunciation/form atíti nɛ) –showing that sorting by any of the pronunciation fields gives this layout.

Bulk Editing Pronunciation Fields

Getting back to the point of it all (for me, anyway), with this configuration it is now possible to bulk copy to/from these fields:

Locations didn’t show up for me under “Bulk Replace”; I’m not sure why, though that sounds familiar –perhaps I didn’t configure it right, or maybe that’s a bug.

Summary

Though tone fields created under pronunciation fields is not currently helpful for WeSay collaboration, it seems a much more principled way of treating tone data in FLEx, since it natively allows for varied contexts, CV patterns, segmental morphophonemics impacting the frame (since each pronunciation field has a form field, which can include the lexeme, frame, and any segmental interactions between them). In addition these fields are accessible to FLEx filtering and sorting, including bulk edit operations.
Given the complexity of this configuration, I would not recommend what I have described to the computer non-savvy (e.g., users more comfortable in WeSay). But for those comfortable manipulating these configurations, FLEx can be a powerful tool for manipulating tone data.

Round-tripping LIFT data through XLingpaper

Rationale

The LIFT specification allows for interchange between lexical databases we use, such as in FLEx and WeSay. As an XML specification, it is also subject to XSL transformation, and can be converted to XML documents that conform to other specifications, such as XLingPaper, an XML specification for writing linguistics papers. I described before a means to get data out of FLEx into XlingPaper, but that required a script generating regular expressions which were then put into a FLEx filter by hand (metaphorically speaking). Computers should be able to automate this, and so (following my “If computers can do a particular task, they should” motto) I developed a script to take that regular expression generator, and feed those expressions to an XSL stylesheet to produce XlingPaper XML from the LIFT XML automatically.
The other half of the rationale is that I hate exporting data from a database to a paper or report, seeing and error, and not being able to fix it once. Either I fix it in the paper and the database, or else in the database, then re-export to the paper. So a way to get data from LIFT to XlingPaper and back seemed helpful for drafting linguistics papers, even if one wasn’t dealing with the volume of reports I’m looking at generating.

Tools

One major caveat for this work is that these tools (FLEx, WeSay, and XLingpaper) are in active development, so functionality may vary over time. The tests in this post were run with the following:

  1. FLEx 7.0.6.40863 (for Linux)
  2. WeSay 1.1.9 (for Linux) –This doesn’t enter directly into these tests, but the LIFT files used often sync back and forth between these two programs.
  3. xsltproc from a standard Ubuntu Linux install (i.e., compiled against libxml 20706, libxslt 10126 and libexslt 815)
  4. GNU bash, also from standard Ubuntu Linux (i.e., version 4.1.5)
  5. GNU diffutils, also from standard Ubuntu Linux (i.e., version 2.8.1)
  6. XMLMind Xml Editor, version 5.1.0
  7. XLingPaper, version 2.18.0_3

All of these tools are free (or have a free version) and available online from their respective sources, and most are open source.
The scripts I’ve written (to generate reports and call the XSL transforms) are not yet publicly available; I hope to have them cleaned up and more broadly tested before long.

Test Goals

I want to see if I can

  1. Get data from LIFT to XLingPaper format,
  2. Modify the XLingPaper document in XXE (which keeps it in conformity to the XLingPaper DTD),
  3. Get it back into LIFT and imported to FLEx,
  4. Show that the FLEx import made all and only the changes made by modifying the XLingPaper document (i.e., no other data loss)

To do this I will be using an output of diff between two versions of the XLingPaper document (original and modified), and another diff between two versions of the LIFT file (originally exported, and exported after input). To achieve #4, I will show that the two diffs show all and only the same changes to data entries (the modifications to the XLingPaper doc are the same as the changes to the FLEx database, as evidenced by its export to LIFT). Fyi, this LIFT file has 2033 entries, and takes up almost 2MB (plain text), so we’re not talking about a trivial amount of data.

Test procedure

  1. Backup Wesay folder (this is real [gey] data I’m working with, after all…)
  2. Export “Full Lexicon” from FLEx, and copy it to gey.ori.lift
  3. Run report (vowel inventory) on exported gey.lift (This creates Report_VowelInventory.gey.xml)
  4. Open created report in XXE
  5. Modify and save (because XXE changes format –this helps diff see real changes, not those irrelevant to xml)
  6. Save as Report_VowelInventory.gey.mod.xml, and modify one example of each field we’re interested in, including @root (at this point both files have been saved by XXE, for easier comparison).
  7. Run `diff Report_VowelInventory.gey.{,mod.}xml` (results below)
  8. Run `xlp-extract2lift Report_VowelInventory.gey.mod.xml .` (This creates Report_VowelInventory.gey.mod.compiledfromXLP.lift)
  9. Backup FLEx project (just in case, as there’s real data here, too)
  10. Import Report_VowelInventory.gey.mod.compiledfromXLP.lift to FLEx project, selecting “import the conflicting data and overwrite the current data (importing data overrules my work).” and unticking “Trust entry modification times” (This is important because if that box is selected entries won’t import unless you have also changed the ‘dateModified’ attribute on an entry –which I generally don’t).
  11. Export again, producing a second LIFT file exported by FLEx (one before, and one after the import)
  12. Run `diff gey{,.ori}.lift`
  13. Compare diffs to see fidelity of the process.

Test results

Here is the diff showing the changes between the original report and the modifications:

$ diff Report_VowelInventory.gey.{,mod.}xml
11c11
< >Rapport de l’Inventaire des Voyelles de [gey]</title

> >Rapport de l’Inventaire des Voyelles de [gey]MOD</title
23c23
< >Kent Rasmussen</author

> >Kent RasmussenMOD</author
42c42
< >Voyelles</secTitle

> >VoyellesMOD</secTitle
65c65
< >mbata</langData

> >mbataMOD</langData
89c89
< >pl: mabata</langData

> >pl: mabataMOD</langData
113c113
< >fissure, fente</gloss

> >fissure, fenteMOD</gloss
137c137
< >mke / wake</gloss

> >mke / wakeMOD</gloss
155c155
< externalID=”ps=’Noun’|senseid=’hand_0d9c81ef-b052-4f61-bc6a-02840db4a49e’|senseorder=”|definition-swh=’mkono

/ mikono'”

> externalID=”ps=’Noun’|senseid=’hand_0d9c81ef-b052-4f61-bc6a-02840db4a49e’|senseorder=”|definition-swh=’mkono

/ mikonoMOD'”
171c171
< externalID=”ps=’Noun’|senseid=’orange_2924ca57-f722-44e1-b444-2a30d8674126’|senseorder=”|definition-fr=’orange'”

> externalID=”ps=’Noun’|senseid=’orange_2924ca57-f722-44e1-b444-2a30d8674126’|senseorder=”|definition-fr=’orangeMOD'”
180c180
< externalID=”root=’paka’|entrydateCreated=’2011-08-05T10:57:05Z’|entrydateModified=’2011-09-27T11:24:32Z’|entryguid=’44dcf55e-9cd7-47a9-ac66-1713a3769708’|entryid=’mopaka_44dcf55e-9cd7-47a9-ac66-1713a3769708′”

> externalID=”root=’pakaMOD’|entrydateCreated=’2011-08-05T10:57:05Z’|entrydateModified=’2011-09-27T11:24:32Z’|entryguid=’44dcf55e-9cd7-47a9-ac66-1713a3769708’|entryid=’mopaka_44dcf55e-9cd7-47a9-ac66-1713a3769708′”

As you can see from this diff output, I changed data in a number of different types of fields, including the report title, author, sectionTitle, langData (from citation), langData (from Plural), glosses in each of French and Swahili, and the last three are root and definitions, which are not visible in the printed report, but stored in an ExternalID attribute (recently added to XLingPaper to be able to store this kind of info, without having to put it elsewhere in the structure of the doc).

And here is the diff showing the changes between the original LIFT export and the one exported after importing the LIFT file with modifications:

$ diff gey{,.ori}.lift
2601c2601
< <form lang=”swh”><text>mkono / mikonoMOD</text></form>

> <form lang=”swh”><text>mkono / mikono</text></form>
10776c10776
< <gloss lang=”swh”><text>mke / wakeMOD</text></gloss>

> <gloss lang=”swh”><text>mke / wake</text></gloss>
15871c15871
< <form lang=”gey”><text>pakaMOD</text></form>

> <form lang=”gey”><text>paka</text></form>
23529c23529
< <form lang=”gey”><text>mbataMOD</text></form>

> <form lang=”gey”><text>mbata</text></form>
27587c27587
< <field type=”Plural”><form lang=”gey”><text>mabataMOD</text></form>

> <field type=”Plural”><form lang=”gey”><text>mabata</text></form>
31657c31657
< <form lang=”fr”><text>orangeMOD</text></form>

> <form lang=”fr”><text>orange</text></form>
32416c32416
< <gloss lang=”fr”><text>fissure, fenteMOD</text></gloss>

> <gloss lang=”fr”><text>fissure, fente</text></gloss>

Summary

  1. The first several MOD’s to the paper (to titles, etc.) are not in the second diff, since only example data is extracted into the LIFT file to import (this is what we want, right?).
  2. The other mods –root, citation, plural, gloss-swahili, gloss-french, definition-french and definition-swahili– all survived.
  3. No other changes existed between the exported LIFT files.

Discussion

Because FLEx exported essentially the same LIFT file (of 2033 entries and almost 2MB, remember), with all and only the changes made in XXE, I presume that there were no destructive changes to the underlying FLEx database, and this procedure is safe for further testing. I did not go so far as to diff the underlying fwdata file, as I probably wouldn’t understand its format anyway, and I wouldn’t know how to distinguish between differences in formatting and content (while it is also XML, I don’t understand its specification or how it is used in the program –which is not a bad thing).
Speaking of what I don’t know, I should be clear that my formal training is in Linguistics (M.A. Oregon 2002), not in IT. I’m doing this because there is a massive amount of linguistic data to collect, organize, analyze and verify, and I want to do that efficiently (the fact that this is fun is just a nice byproduct). In any case, I have certainly not followed best practices in my bash or XSL scripting. So if you read the attachments and think “this guy doesn’t know how to code efficiently or elegantly,” then we’re already in agreement on that. And you’d also be welcome to contribute on improvements. 🙂

Acknowledgements

I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere on this project without the work of many others, particularly including those that are giving of their own time and resources (which surely could have been spent elsewhere) on FLEx, WeSay, and the LIFT specification itself. Of particular note is Andy Black, who encouraged me to take another stab at XSLT (after telling him I’d tried and given up a few years ago), and who has provided invaluable and innumerable helps, both in the development of the XLingPaper specification, and in particular issues related to these transforms. Most of what is good here has roots in his work, though I hope no one holds him responsible for my errors and inelegance.

Marantz CF Media and Formatting

I have a Marantz PMD670, for which I recently got a bigger (8GB) CF card (the 256MB card can only handle 30 mins in mono…). I had trouble getting it to format in a way that the Marantz recognizes. After asking for help getting that card to work, I finally just bought a few different cards, and tested them all. Having done the slow and tedious, I thought I should share my results, to hopefully spare someone else the trouble (or at least some of it). You understand that your mileage may vary, but this is what I found.

Summary: Transcend and Sandisk Ultra worked; Kingston and Pretec didn’t.

Cards tested (I have no idea what most of these part and serial numbers mean but they’re here, in case they mean something to someone):
Lexar 256MB
Kingston 8GB 9904318-025.AOOLF / 5393610-0488698 X001
Pretec 8GB 233x P/N: CFS208G
Sandisk Ultra 8GB 30MB/s
Transcend 8GB 133x P/N: TS8GCF133 S/N:596260-0952
Transcend 4GB 133x P/N: TS4GCF133 S/N:598666-3236

The Easy Ones
The Lexar, Sandisk, and Transcend cards all worked out of the box. You plug them in, turn on the Marantz, get “BlankCard”, and can start recording immediately.

Lexar and Kingston
For these two cards, things are more difficult:

  1. Turn the Marantz on, and it displays “You need FormatOnPC”
  2. Clicking stop/cancel gets past this error to “BlankCard” (Before I figured this out, I thought these cards were completely useless).
  3. If you try to record at this point, it says “Full Card” (ironically, just under “BlankCard”)
  4. It is possible format at this point, following to the manual instructions (“executing–>Done”)
  5. Once formatted, record and playback work normally, until you shut the machine off (either to conserve power, or to go into I/O mode).

But once you’ve recorded as above,

  • Kingston: you cannot see the recorded files on PC, either through CF card reader, or through the Marantz in I/O mode. The card mounts, but appears blank.
  • Pretec: you can see recordings files on PC or in I/O mode, and manipulate/play them on a PC.
  • both: when the Marantz boots again, it gives “You need FormatOnPC”, and the whole process begins again (i.e., you can’t record/play until after formatting)

So, if you don’t turn off your Marantz much, and if don’t mind formatting your card every time you do, these two cards might do something for you. The Kingston will allow playback of what has been recorded, though only on the Marantz itself. The Pretec, on the other hand, will also allow you to get the the data off the card afterwards, which I assume most of us would want.

Personally, I’d go for one of the cards that really works. So much for standards. Unfortunately, the first larger card that I got was the one that performed the worst, and the later cards all performed at least a bit better. I hope the lesson isn’t that we need to just buy several cards whenever we need at least one to work, but maybe it is.

Problem adding custom fields in WeSay 0.9.28.0 for import to Fieldworks 7.0.5~beta5

I thought I had a system for making fields in WeSay, which would then be automatically imported into FLEx, as described here. But just today, I noted that the inability to configure those fields in FLEx is more serious than I had thought. Looking in the FLEx help, one sees:

You cannot change the location or writing system after the custom field is created.

Since custom fields created first in WeSay then imported into FLEx are created in FLEx on import, there is no way to set these options once imported. Complicating this situation, apparently FLEx isn’t taking that (at least writing system) info from WeSay during import. I noticed this when I was moving some data around, and had plural data in an English language field (and this is not an English dictionary…) I went back to WeSay to check the config there; here is the WeSay config for the plural field, above the plural field display in FLEx:

So even though I told WeSay that I just want [nlj] data in this field, on import FLEx set the field as “all analysis, then all vernacular” (which doesn’t seem to match this screenshot, but the point is that I have five language to choose from when inputing data, when I should have just one).
The reason the data is in the ‘en’ field is my fault — I bulk copied to the plural field without checking which writing system I was copying into. But I made this error because I presumed that there was only one language field (this is data, not analysis!) for it to go to. So it is reasonable to imagine others might do so as well, with a bunch of junk language fields that can’t be easily gotten rid of.

Summary

  1. This isn’t the end of the world. One can always create the fields again in FLEx, with the right options, then move all the data over with bulk edit. Needing to do so just negates the value of creating the custom fields on import, unless you don’t care what languages will be available to that field.
  2. Since WeSay clearly has the correct info, hopefully the FLEx team will see this as a bug, and correct the import to take language choice from WeSay (assuming it can understand that [nlj], in this case, is a vernacular writing system, and the systems for categorizing writing systems in WeSay (which selects on a per system basis) and FLEx (which groups languages in categories of first/all vernacular/analysis only/then the other) can be harmonized and/or made to understand one another.
  3. In the mean time, I would advise against importing custom fields from WeSay. We’ll need to take the extra steps to create the fields in each program, and hopefully get it documented clearly enough that each will see the other’s fields the first time around.

Creating a Custom Field II: in Fieldworks 7.0.5~beta5 for WeSay 0.9.28.0

Today I’m going to walk through creating a custom field in Fieldworks, and see how it looks in LIFT and in WeSay.

Fieldworks’ ‘Custom Fields’ Dialog

Creating custom fields in fieldworks is easy, if you know where to look. I created a Tone field via Tools/Configure/Custom fields:

Clicking there produces the Custom Fields dialog box, where one can set up the new field:

Here I have already added Tone and Plural fields. As far as I can tell, there are pros and cons to this method:

  1. Fields added to every record in the database (though I don’t think they take up space, at least in LIFT, until there is data in the field).
  2. Only one of these can appear in a record. I didn’t even notice this until I tried another kind of field (to come), but this may or may not be important to what you’re doing. If you want a couple tone fields for different environments (syntactic, tonal, or whatever), you would need to make them each here, or use another method (description to come).

This is what they look like in FLEx before they have been filled in (Note that I selected different options for the language of these fields):

These fields from the entry in the above screenshot didn’t show up in the LIFT file, since they were empty, but another took the following form (between lexical-unit and senses):

<field type=”Plural”>
<form lang=”gey”>
<text>baadisi</text>
</form>
</field>

And here it is in WeSay:

I saw it immediately on opening WeSay this time, since I had the field already configured earlier, like this:

Note that “Name in file” and “Name for display” are both “Plural”. This makes it a bit easier on the config, since you don’t have to keep track of a different name for the WeSay user to see as in the LIFT file (which is what you see in FLEx).
In the WeSayConfig file, you see this:

<field>
<className>LexEntry</className>
<dataType>MultiText</dataType>
<displayName>Plural</displayName>
<enabled>True</enabled>
<fieldName>Plural</fieldName>
<multiParagraph>False</multiParagraph>
<spellCheckingEnabled>False</spellCheckingEnabled>
<multiplicity>ZeroOr1</multiplicity>
<optionsListFile></optionsListFile>
<visibility>Visible</visibility>
<writingSystems>
<id>gey</id>
</writingSystems>
</field>

Note the fieldName and diplayName values each as ‘Plural.’
When adding (and therefore and naming) a new field in FLEx, that name would show in the same place as Plural in <field type=”Plural”> (the ‘type’ attribute of the field node) for that field in the LIFT file. That would be what you would need to put in the “Name in file” field of the Configuration Tool/Fields dialog above (or in the fieldName field of the WeSayConfig file), in order to see it in WeSay.
A couple caveats for creating custom fields for collaboration between FLEx and WeSay in this manner:

  1. You can’t use spaces. One of the first custom fields I made in FLEx was “Noun Class of Plural.” When I tried to create the corresponding field in WeSay, I got something like this:

    I recall FLEx being perfectly happy writing the field ‘type’ attribute with spaces into the LIFT file, but there was no way to get such a WeSay field, either through the config tool, or through editing the config file by hand. Not that I could find, anyway; perhaps a developer can contradict me here if there is.
  2. A related point is that when creating the field in FLEx first, one is obligated to then create the field in WeSay, or you won’t see it there (the data should still be preserved, but that’s not the kind of collaboration I’m looking for).

But when creating a custom field in WeSay first (As I described here), FLEx creates the field that you created in WeSay automatically. There was a limitation on the options (relative to creating a custom field in FLEx), but going in that direction removes one configuration step for each custom field. So that would depend on the kind of flexibility you need (I haven’t needed those options, yet).
Probably the first issue where I would want those grayed out options would be for fields with option lists. Even in FLEx, the instructions say to set up the options (or at least the list) first, then the field that references them. When trying to collaborate with such a field in WeSay, that would all need to be done first. But I haven’t figured out yet how to get such a field into WeSay, or if the option list fields from WeSay (e.g., POS and SemDom) can go into FLEx, or if they are incompatible data types. If someone figures that one out, please let us all know; if I get time to work on it, I’ll post here.

Notes for creating fields in FLEx’s ‘Custom Fields’ dialog to be used in WeSay

  1. Don’t use spaces in the field name.
  2. Plan on also creating the custom field name in WeSay, with the FLEx field name in the WeSay Configuration Tool’s “Name in file” field.
  3. Don’t use this method for fields that might need to appear more than once per sense/entry, or else make one for each possible iteration you need.
  4. Use this method if you need broader configuration of FLEx custom fields.

Creating Custom Fields in WeSay 0.9.28.0 for Fieldworks 7.0.5~beta5

I’ve been working with custom fields in FLEx and WeSay enough to feel the need to figure out what is really going on. The goal is to be able to straightforwardly create custom fields in one or the the other that are editable and round-trip-able in the other. To do this, I’m going to look into the interface of each program, and see what impact adding fields has on the LIFT (and config, for WeSay) file. Today I’m making a field in WeSay, and seeing what it looks like there, and then in FLEx.

The WeSay Configuration Tool

The WeSay config tool looks like this (once you click on ‘Fields’ then ‘New Field’):

Once you save and exit, you get a section under the <fields> node in the WeSayConfig file that looks like this:

<field>
<className>LexEntry</className>
<dataType>MultiText</dataType>
<displayName>*newField</displayName>
<enabled>True</enabled>
<fieldName>newField</fieldName>
<multiParagraph>False</multiParagraph>
<spellCheckingEnabled>False</spellCheckingEnabled>
<multiplicity>ZeroOr1</multiplicity>
<optionsListFile></optionsListFile>
<visibility>Visible</visibility>
<writingSystems>
<id>en</id>
<id>fr</id>
<id>hav</id>
</writingSystems>
</field>

Adding Data in WeSay

Returning to WeSay, one can add some bogus info to this field in one of the records:

Closing out WeSay and looking at the LIFT file, we see the following under this entry (between <lexical-unit> and the first <sense>):

<field type=”newField”>
<form lang=”fr”>
<text>BogusNewfield</text>
</form>
</field>

What this Means

Putting this all together, we see that

  1. The ‘Name in file’ from the WeSay Config Tool corresponds to the field/fieldName node in the WeSayConfig file.
  2. Both of the above correspond to the LIFT entry/field ‘type’ attribute (once data is entered):
    ‘Name in file’ = (xyz.WeSayConfig)/configuration/components/viewTemplate/fields/field/fieldName = (xyz.lift)/lift/entry/field/@type
  3. ‘Name for display’ from the WeSay Config Tool is the label the WeSay user sees on the field, which corresponds to the contents of the field/displayName node, i.e., (.WeSayConfig)/configuration/components/viewTemplate/fields/field/displayName
  4. Therefore, the name a WeSay user sees for a field will not necessarily relate to anything in FLEx. This is because the WeSay label is related to the proper LIFT field in the WeSayConfig file (which FLEx doesn’t see), and not in the LIFT file, which is what FLEx imports. So in setting up custom fields, we need to pay attention to what the config tool says for the ‘Name in file’, not the ‘Name for display’ (Note that it is ‘*newField,’ and not ‘newField,’ in the WeSay user interface. The asterisk, which is visible in WeSay, is only present in displayName in the WeSayConfig, not in either of fieldName from the WeSayConfig or field/@type from the LIFT file.)

Importing to FLEx

I was happy to see that the field created in WeSay shows up under FLEx custom fields (after importing the WeSay LIFT file):

Note that Location, Type, and Writing System(s) are all grayed out. There may be some way of modifying these settings in FLEx once they have been set in WeSay, but isn’t obvious at first glance. Here is the field in the lexicon editor:

I had to select ‘Show Hidden Fields’ to be able to see it the first time for some reason. But then I deselected it, and the field remained visible.
Note that the label in FLEx is ‘newField,’ without the asterisk, which comes from the type attribute of the field in the LIFT file. As far as I can see, there is no Distinction between file and display names in FLEx. This is appropriate for at least the following two reasons:

  1. FLEx seems to deal fine with spaces in field names (I’ve had problems with this in WeSay).
  2. FLEx users should be able to handle whatever complexity the field names throw at them. WeSay, on the other hand, needs to control carefully what the user sees, and it’s relationship to the LIFT field in question. For instance, the form in lexical-unit in a lift file is displayed as “Word” by default in WeSay, since people are putting words into it. But when I analyze those words into roots, it is nice to be able to change that field’s display name to “Root” in WeSay, without having to change the underlying LIFT structure. This flexibility of the display name can help keep the WeSay user from getting confused without unnecessarily complicating the database.

Notes for Creating fields in WeSay to be imported to FLEx

  1. Pay attention to ‘Name in file’ in the WeSay Config Tool, since that will be what the field will be called in the LIFT file, and in FLEx (and presumably in other programs that would use LIFT).
  2. You may need to click on ‘Show Hidden Fields’ to see the field in FLEx.
  3. There doesn’t seem to be a way to put fields anywhere than in the ‘Custom Fields’ section of FLEx, so I hope that’s where you want it (if not, stay tuned for the next installment, going the other way).

Proposal revisited

I’ve written before about using WeSay to collect language data, and at one point I even wrote up a proposal for features I think it would be nice to have there –specifically targeted at orthography development, but the same tools could be used for spell checking (lining up similar profile words, that is, not coming up with a list of correctly spelled words). Anyway, it doesn’t look like that proposal is going anywhere, so I thought I’d give it another try.

The Basic Problem

  1. I’m working in an increasingly large number of languages (five people representing three languages were in my office most of this morning), and I’m looking to see that trend continue (looking to the 60 unwritten languages in eastern DRC).
  2. I am one person, and can only work on one language at a time (however often the language may change throughout the day).
  3. The best tool we have for sorting and manipulating large amounts of lexical data (FLEx) is great at what it does, but is inaccessible to most of the people I work with (it was made for linguists, after all. :-))
  4. So I am left with doing all the work with each guy in FLEx (see #2), or else finding a tool that can be more easily used by the people in #1.

Getting from Data collection to an Orthography

For a number of tasks (word collection), WeSay does exactly what I want. Since most of these people are touching a computer for the first time, let’s get rid of as much of the complexity and room for error as possible. Do one thing at a time, in a constrained environment. But once I’ve collected a wordlist in WeSay, I still need to

  1. Parse the roots out of the forms collected (I can collect plural forms in WeSay now, but we still need to get the full word forms into a field that should be full word forms (e.g., <citation>), and just roots in the lexical-unit field. In case it isn’t obvious, a lot of the phonological analysis depends on the structure of the root — the first root consonant is more important to our analysis that the first word consonant, so we need to be able to sort/filter on it.
  2. Sort and filter the word forms, so we see just one kind of thing at a time (we don’t want to see if kupaka and kukapa have the same ‘p’, since the difference in word position might cause such a difference that is irrelevant to the phonemic system (English speakers pronounce p’s differently in different environments, but use one letter for them all — did you know?).
  3. Go through each controlled list of words, to see where the current writing system (we use a national language to get us started) is not making enough distinctions, and where it is making too many.
  4. Mark changes on the appropriate words, returning the corrected information to the database.

While FLEx can handle all these tasks fine (however slowly at times), if I’m going to help other people move forward in their own language development, I need to find another tool (or tool set). I have got these guys quite happily working in WeSay (yes, there are kinks, but still we all are often working 3-4 times as fast as if I was typing everything myself, since there are more of us typing), but I need to get ready for these next steps, in a way that allows us to build on this momentum, rather than tell everyone but one team to go home until I have more time.

An Attempt

So I’ve been playing with XForms lately (for a lot of other reasons), and I’ve toyed with the idea of getting at and manipulating the LIFT file by another engine. The idea of being able to write a simple form to control the complexity of the underlying XML, and to manipulate it and save back to XML, was very exciting. I even have one form (for collecting noun class permutation examples) deployed. Then I read about the post describing the death of the Firefox XForms extension, and I thought surely, there must be a better way to do this, and I’m sure someone out there knows what it is. So I’ll spend some time outlining exactly what I’d like to see, and maybe someone will know what to do to make it happen.

A Proposal

I took some screenshots of some xforms I did, displayed in firefox. Here’s the first form, for parsing roots (Havu is the name of the language I’m using to test this, and one of the next who will be looking for this to work):

The important aspects are

  1. The prefix of the original citation form (sg here), which filters through the database, allowing us to work on words that are (probably) just of one noun class at a time.
  2. A number of possible plural prefixes, to control the potential output forms
  3. The originally input word form, with gloss (where present), to clearly identify each word.
  4. A number of buttons which allow a non-linguist to simply push a button to input the plural form and parse the root (probably including a “none of the above,” which would skip processing for this word).
  5. Under the hood processing which would, on a click:
  1. copy the original form into a citation form field in the database (potentially a new node in the lift XML),
  2. remove the prefix from the original form, and
  3. input the plural form into a field for the plural form (again, potentially a new node in the lift XML).

It would probably be better to show the user one word at a time, rather than the list in this screen-shot, but I included it all here, to show how the removal of the prefix, and the application of the new prefix, would need to apply to the form of each entry. Also, it would be nice if the form could be adapted for suffixing languages.
What I had so far for an example trigger (in XForms) would be

<xf:trigger><xf:label><xf:output value=”concat(‘mo’, substring(lexical-unit/form[@lang=’hav’]/text[starts-with(.,
‘aka’)], 4))” /></xf:label>
<xf:action ev:event=”DOMActivate”>
<xf:insert context=”.” origin=”instance(‘init’)/citation” />
<xf:setvalue ref=”./citation/form/text” value=“lexical-unit/form[@lang=’hav’]/text[starts-with(., ‘aka’)]”/>
<xf:setvalue ref=“lexical-unit/form[@lang=’hav’]/text[starts-with(., ‘aka’)]” value=“substring(lexical-unit/form[@lang=’hav’]/text[starts-with(., ‘aka’)], string-length(‘aka’) +1)”/>
<xf:send submission=”Save”/>
</xf:action>
</xf:trigger>

As you can see, the value of the prefix is hard-coded here, since I haven’t been able to get variables to work. also, the setvalue expressions don’t really behave (neither node-creation, not setting the right value for an existing node). It’s hard to tell what is a limitation of XForms, and what is a limitation of the Firefox extension –I tried another XForms renderer, but no luck so far… Needless to say, this is not what I do best, so help, anyone?
The next form I’d like sets ATR values for whole words (usually the harmony around here is fairly strict, so it would help with a lot, but not all, vowel questions):

This form is similar to the above, in that I’m looking for a simple regular expression (or a more complicated on, if possible. :-)) to control the data we’re looking at at once, and a binary choice for which vowel group the word belongs to (showing the new word form on the button). A choice of one or another would set the word form accordingly.
Same caveats above about the list of words on a page, and should probably have a “neither” button for when a word doesn’t obey strict vowel harmony, which would bypass processing for that word.
The trigger I had so far (for the -ATR button, reverse for the +ATR) was

<xf:trigger><xf:label><xf:output value=”translate(lexical-unit/form[@lang=’hav’]/text, ‘aeiou’, ‘aɛɨɔʉ’)”/>(-ATR)</xf:label>
<xf:action ev:event=”DOMActivate”>
<xf:setvalue context=”.” value=”translate(lexical-unit/form[@lang=’hav’]/text, ‘aeiou’, ‘aɛɨɔʉ’)”></xf:setvalue>
<xf:send submission=”Save”/>
</xf:action>
</xf:trigger>

The translation includes a>a, but could be modified depending on what /a/ does in a given language (especially if there are 10 vowels).
The third and final form, where we would spend the bulk of our time, might look like this:

Here we have:

  1. The ubiquitous regex to control the data we’re looking at.
  2. The letter that is being evaluated (we’re only analyzing one written form, be it digraph or not, at a time).
  3. The position to find that letter (something like first or second in the root, would probably be good enough).
  4. The options for replacing it (buttons labeled with the new forms), in case a word in the list uses a sound that doesn’t sound the same as the sound in that position in the rest of the words in the list.

Again, a choice of new word form would write the new form to the database (at which point the word would likely disappear from the list, until the regexp matched the new form of that word). It would be nice if the same replacement could be made in the citation and plural forms, presuming the same sounds and written letters would apply. I’m not sure if it would be necessary to devise two forms, one for consonants, and another for vowels. It would depend (at least) on how the regex worked, since the underlying principle is the same for consonants and vowels — look at one thing in one position at a time, and mark each one as the same or different, compared to the other things on the list.

Specifications

Some things we would need to make this tool useful:

  1. Read and modify LIFT format in a predictable and non-destructive way (making all and only the changes we’re looking for, to the fields we’re looking at, leaving everything else alone). This is the format we’re keeping all our lexical data in, and we need to play nice with a number of other programs that use the same data structure standard.
  2. Use of regular expressions. For the root parsing tool, a simple prefix (or suffix) filter would do, but for the others it would be nice to be able to constrain syllable type, as well as position in the word (i.e., kupapata should not appear on the same list as kupapa, even if we’re looking at first ‘p’ in the root, since the second is a longer root). In FLEx, I use expressions like these (more included below), though a simpler format could do, if that kind of power were not possible. Ideally, these expressions would be put into a config file, and the user would only see the label (I have these all done, and can come up with more if needed).
  3. Cross-platform. We run most of our work on BALSA, so it would need to be able to run on at least Linux, which provides BALSA’s OS.
  4. Simple UI. It is probably not possible to overstate computer illiteracy we are dealing with here. People are eager to learn, and often capable to learn, but the less training we need, and the less room a given task has to screw everything else up, the better (WeSay‘s UI is a great model).
  5. Shareable. Even if not open sourced, any tool we might use here needs to be legally put on every computer we and our colleagues use, and they don’t often have the money or access to internet to buy licenses.
  6. Supportable. As hard as we try to keep the possibility of errors out of our workplace, it happens. Today we had two technological problems, each of which required non-significant amounts of my time. If I weren’t here (or if the problems had been beyond me), the teams would have been stuck. The simpler and more accessible (or absolutely error free!) the technology is under the hood, the more likely someone local will be able to deal with problems that arise in a timely manner.

Anyway, there it is.

Examples of Useful Regular Expressions for Filtering Lexical Data

The following are output by a script, which takes as input the kinds of graphs (e.g., d, t, ng’, and ngy) used in a given language’s writing system. For instance, these expressions do not allow ‘rh’ as a single consonant, but those I did for another language does. Similarly, these are based on ten particular vowel letters, which could also be changed for a given language.

^([mn]{0,1})([[ptjfvmlryh]|[bdgkcsznw][hpby]{0,1}])([aiɨuʉeɛoɔʌ])([́̀̌̂]{0,1})([mn]{0,1})([[ptjfvmlryh]|[bdgkcsznw][hpby]{0,1}])([aiɨuʉeɛoɔʌ])([́̀̌̂]{0,1})$

(all CVCV –short vowels only)

^([mn]{0,1})([[ptjfvmlryh]|[bdgkcsznw][hpby]{0,1}])([aiɨuʉeɛoɔʌ]{1,2})([́̀̌̂]{0,1})([mn]{0,1})([[ptjfvmlryh]|[bdgkcsznw][hpby]{0,1}])([aiɨuʉeɛoɔʌ]{1,2})([́̀̌̂]{0,1})$

(all CVCV –long vowels and dypthongs OK)

^([mn]{0,1})([[ptjfvmlryh]|[bdgkcsznw][hpby]{0,1}])([aiɨuʉeɛoɔʌ]{1,2})([́̀̌̂]{0,1})12([aiɨuʉeɛoɔʌ]{1,2})([́̀̌̂]{0,1})$

(all CVCV with C1=C2 –counting prenasalization)

^([mn]{0,1})([[ptjfvmlryh]|[bdgkcsznw][hpby]{0,1}])([aiɨuʉeɛoɔʌ])([́̀̌̂]{0,1})([mn]{0,1})([[ptjfvmlryh]|[bdgkcsznw][hpby]{0,1}])3([́̀̌̂]{0,1})$

(all CVCV with V1=V2 –no long V’s or dypthongs)

^([mn]{0,1})([[ptjfvmlryh]|[bdgkcsznw][hpby]{0,1}])(a)([mn]{0,1})([[ptjfvmlryh]|[bdgkcsznw][hpby]{0,1}])3([́̀̌̂]{0,1})$

(all CVCV with V1=V2=a)

Wesay Wrapper

As happy as I am with WeSay, it is designed with a mindset of one user working on a given computer. It can work on a number of different languages (one at a time, of course!) out of the box, but it isn’t straightforward. You have to navigate to the WeSay folder, then click on the .lift file each time you want to work in a language other than the one WeSay opened last. Since one of the goals of working in BALSA is to hide the (often confusing) directory structure from the (initiate) user, this is unideal for switching between languages in Wesay on BALSA.

Since I’m doing just that (and a fair bit of switching on my own computer between WeSay in different languages), I wrote a script to invoke WeSay with the arguments calling for a given project each time it runs, so we will never need to think about what the last project was. It has a graphical tool (Zenity) to select which project to open, which is populated by the projects actually on that computer.
It assumes a structure of projects named by Ethnologue code, each in a folder with that name, each of which is in the same WeSay folder. It also assumes that each project has the full language name defined in the palaso:languageName tag in the language’s .ldml file (if it doesn’t, it will still work, but the gui will look off, and the next language will be on the same line).

I have the gui in English and French, since that’s what we use here. 🙂

For those interested, here it is:
#!/bin/bash
Version=2011.07.28
#set -x
#Note: this assumes a directory structure of WeSay projects named after three letter ISO/Ethnologue codes.

case $HOSTNAME in
Balsa*) wsfolder=/home/balsa/WeSay/;;
*) echo “Is WeSay set up on this computer? if so, update the $0 wrapper.”;exit;;
esac
langs=
PWD=`pwd`
cd $wsfolder
for xyz in `ls -d ???`
do
langs=”$langs $xyz”
langs=”$langs `grep –after-context=1 “palaso:languageName” $xyz/WritingSystems/$xyz.ldml|tr -d ‘n’| grep -o “<palaso:languageName.*>” |grep -o ‘”.*”‘|tr -d ‘”‘`”
done
cd $PWD
lang=`zenity –width=120 –height=400 –list –title “Open/Ouvrir Wesay” –text “Choose language / Choisissez langue:” –column=”ISO 639-3″ –column=”Name/Nom de langue” –multiple $langs`

echo “Ethnologue code entered: $lang”
if [ -f $wsfolder/$lang/$lang.WeSayConfig ]
then
wesay $wsfolder/$lang/$lang.lift
else
zenity –error –text “Sorry, please check the code and try again.n Désolé, SVP verifier la code, et éssayer encore.”
$0
fi
exit