Using the Internet to collaborate on a dictionary

Author John Hatton | 21.06.2010 | Category WeSay

Get yourself a LanguageDepot.org Account

Go to Language Depot and create yourself an account.

Please don’t use the same password you use for anything important… WeSay is NOT going to be careful about keeping your password well-hidden.

Get a LanguageDepot.org Project for the Language

Write to admin@languagedepot.org.  Please provide the following information:

  • The name of the account you created in the previous step
  • The name of the project.  Normally, the name of the language works well for this.
  • The ISO 639-3 code for the language.  Easiest way to find that is via the Ethnologue.

We will do three things:

1) Create the language project

2) Give you manager permissions on that project.  With those permissions, you will be able to assign additional contributors to the project, and turn features of the web site on and off.

3) Create a contributor account name “____Contributor” (with your code where the blanks are).

People you have not added to the project will not be able to access your data.  However, we wouldn’t pretend to promise any real “security”.  If you need that, it’s perfectly ok to use a Mercurial server somewhere else… you aren’t tied to LanguageDepot.org.

Unless you tell us otherwise, we’ll assume it is ok for us to occasionally look at the files in your repository project for the purpose of fixing a problem for you or seeing how the collaboration features are being used in real projects.

Make sure you backup the WeSay project before embarking on any major change like this.

Get the Data Together

It’s important that there is a single, up-to-date copy of the dictionary when you first put it up on Language Depot.  If there is currently only a  single person working on the dictionary, you need to get their project, and delete the project from their computer.  That does two good things: ensures they don’t keep working on it, and ensures that they will be using the proper version of the project later.

If there are multiple copies of the dictionary out there, you need to do that for each one of them.  That is, get the project, remove it from their computer.  You have an extra step in this case, which is to merge the entries together.  Read these instructions on merging LIFT files.

Get the Most Recent Version of WeSay

The stuff shown here requires version 0.7 of WeSay, or greater.  Get the latest on the WeSay Downloads Page.

Push the project up to LanguageDepot

Ok, once you have a single dictionary folder with the whole team’s data, it’s time to do the initial push up to LanguageDepot.

First, run the Configuration Tool, and Open your project.

Go to “Actions”, and scroll until you see Send/Receive:

Click that button with the two arrows, and you should see:

Now click “Set Up”, and fill in the account details from the email you received from us.

Click “OK”.  Now, the Internet button becomes available, labeled with the name of the server you will be synchronizing with.

Notice that the “Set Up” button disappeared. This is intentional.  We want to decrease the chance that a user will accidentally mess up his/her ability to do a send/receive by messing up their account information. Therefore, once set up, WeSay hides that Set Up button.  Notice that hovering over the button reveals the trick for getting it back, if you really need to change your account settings:

Click “Internet”, and if all your account settings are correct, your project will be pushed up to the LanguageDepot server.

Pull the project down to the computers of your colleagues

Run the WeSay Configuration Tool, and click “Get From Internet”:

As before, we enter the account information:

And click Download.

Pull the project down to the computers of the rest of the team

Now do the same for each member of the team.  It’s fine to reuse the same “___Contributor” account for each of them… just make sure that their Windows/Linux account names are unique, as that is what will be used to keep track of who did what when you look at the project history.

Begin Collaborating

You’ll notice a Send/Receive button now shows up on the dashboard:

Clicking it there will show a dialog like this:

Clicking “Internet” starts the synchronization:

Note: when WeSay detects that some changes were pulled down from the internet, it closes down and restarts itself so that it has a nice clean start with the new data.

Using Collaboration Notes

Author cambell | 15.06.2010 | Category WeSay

Collaboration is more than just sharing changes.  It turns out that as soon as you start working with others using Send/Receive, you find you want to write notes to them.  So we added the ability to attach questions to lexical entries, and to carry on conversations about the question.  Future versions will add other kinds of notes, and allow them to be attached to particular fields, not just whole entries.

In the following screenshot, notice the circled buttons.  We’d click the left-most to add a new question to this entry.  The other button represents a previous, unresolved question. A click on it brings up a dialog box in which we can read and answer the question.

Ok, but how do you find which entries have unresolved notes?  WeSay 0.7 also introduces the Notes Browser, which lets you find and interact with notes from all over the dictionary:

In addition to Questions, WeSay currently supports just one other kind of note, the Merge Conflict.  These are created by the automatic merger when two team members edit the same field at the same time. Unlike traditional version control systems, Chorus (the engine we’ve written to do all this) doesn’t stop the merge and force you to deal with the problem immediately.  Instead, it makes its best guess as to what to do, then creates a Merge Conflict Note which the team can read and deal with when it is ready.

If you don’t like what the merger did, go the entry and make whatever changes are necessary. Then click the “resolved” box to show that this has been dealt with. Or if you need to discuss what to do with a teammate, add a new message to the note. In the following screenshot, I’ve highlighted the hyperlink at the top, and the Resolved box at the bottom.

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Viewing the History Of Changes

Author cambell | 12.06.2010 | Category WeSay

Like most things in WeSay, you, the Advisor, need to turn on the collaboration features which are appropriate for your project.   There are two optional tasks you can enable if you want:

These show up on the dashboard under the “review” section:

The history show you all the changes the team has made:

Those familiar with WeSay will notice that the history screen is more complex than what we expect many WeSay users to handle.  Use your own discretion. It may be that you, the advisor, will want this enabled in your configuration, but not in that of the rest of the team.


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WeSay Dictionary Collaboration

Author John Hatton | 09.06.2010 | Category WeSay

Since we first introduced WeSay a couple years ago, we’ve heard one request over and over: “Make it so that multiple people can collaborate on the dictionary”.  We’ve now delivered on that, and you can try it out by downloading the latest 0.7 Development Release.

In the next series of posts, I’ll walk through the basics of setting up your dictionary project so that team members can synchronize their work with each other.  We’ll see how to do this using a USB flash drive, server on a local network, or the internet.  We’ll look at two optional features: viewing the complete history of who did what, and having chat-like convers

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