Prior to beginning work on WordSurv 6, the development team had the opportunity to review the functionality and design of WordSurv 4 and 5 and determine what could be improved. Since WordSurv 6 was built completely from scratch, changes to the basic structure of WordSurv could be easily planned into the new application design. WordSurv 6 has several excellent improvements over WordSurv 4 and 5.
One of the most exciting improvements of WordSurv 6 is the use of Unicode encoding of transcriptions. In WordSurv 2.5, transcriptions were stored using combinations of Keyman characters that were displayed as single phonetic characters once the correct font was installed. WordSurv 4 and 5 stored transcriptions as combinations of ASCII characters that were also displayed as single phonetic characters once the correct font was installed. However, WordSurv 6 uses Unicode characters to store the transcriptions meaning that each single phonetic character is stored uniquely as that specific single phonetic character. Since Unicode can store tens of thousands of unique character values, combinations of characters are no longer needed to represent single phonetic character. Because of the use of Unicode encoding, the Phonostatistical Analysis and COMPASS calculations performed by WordSurv are even more precise than in any of the previous versions of WordSurv. Essentially, what you see on the front end is finally exactly what is compared on the back end.
“Gloss lists” have been changed to “gloss dictionaries”. This is purely a cosmetic change to prevent confusion between gloss dictionaries and word lists. Gloss dictionaries retain the exact same functionality as the gloss lists in WordSurv 4 and 5.
Elicitation lists have been removed from WordSurv in version 6. Elicitation lists were added in WordSurv 4 as a list of glosses that word lists could be based off of. The idea was that a surveyor would have a list of glosses that they would want to collect transcriptions of from multiple different tribes, villages, or languages. The elicitations list assured that each word list developed from the elicitation list would contain the same glosses. Unfortunately, this meant that glosses could not be added or removed from individual word lists. Additionally, this model meant that a gloss could not be deleted from the database if it was a part of an elicitation list, an elicitation list could not be deleted from the database if a word list was created from it, and a word list could not be deleted from the database if it was part of a comparison. All of this interconnectivity often made changing glosses, elicitation lists, and word lists overly complicated.
WordSurv 6 has preserved the functionality of the elicitation list but has a less restrictive and less complicated logic. Gloss dictionaries still exist and unlimited custom gloss dictionaries may be created by the user. When a new word list is created, it is always completely empty and does not contain any glosses. However, WordSurv 6 has the ability to add all of the glosses from an entire gloss dictionary to a word list with the click of one button. This means that custom gloss dictionaries can be created to serve as a starting point for word lists so that several word lists can be created with the same glosses, as they were when they were created from the same elicitation list in WordSurv 4 and 5, but the user is not limited to that set of glosses. The user may add or delete glosses from the word list at will, even after the word list is created. WordSurv 6 still lets the user easily build identical word lists but without the restrictions of the elicitation lists of WordSurv 4 and 5.
WordSurv 6 integrates with PalmSurv more easily than ever before. With WordSurv 4 and 5, data could be imported from PalmSurv into WordSurv through a multi-step process but data could not be passed from WordSurv to PalmSurv. Now, WordSurv 6 has the capability to import and export surveys and gloss dictionaries to XML files which can, in turn, be exported from or imported into PalmSurv via the PalmSurv converter. Now, transferring data from PalmSurv to WordSurv only requires the user to convert the PalmSurv Database to XML and then import the XML directly into WordSurv. A data transfer from WordSurv to PalmSurv was not even possible in versions 4 and 5 but is now as simple as exporting the WordSurv data to XML and using the PalmSurv converter to convert the XML to a PalmSurv database.
In additional to the new XML import and export functionality, WordSurv 6 has a streamlined interface for importing from older versions of WordSurv. Importing data from WordSurv 2.5 required a 10 step process in WordSurv 4 and 5. Now, WordSurv 6 accomplishe s the same task in only two steps. WordSurv 6 also comes equipped to easily convert WordSurv 4 and 5 databases so that they can be used with WordSurv 6.
Not only can you import data from XML and older WordSurv versions, but you can also import individual surveys and gloss dictionaries from other WordSurv databases. If the user wants to combine pieces of several WordSurv databases, a survey from one, then entire database from another, and a gloss dictionary from a third, this can be easily accomplished in WordSurv 6. It is now possible to combine WordSurv 2.5, PalmSurv, WordSurv 4/5, and selected parts of WordSurv 6 databases into the same WordSurv 6 database.
WordSurv 6 can now merge two word lists into one larger word list! If the two word lists both have the same gloss, the user can select whether or not to import the instance of the gloss from the second word list as a synonym or to exclude the second instance of the gloss altogether. Word list manipulation is more flexible than ever before.
WordSurv 6 has much more word list comparison flexibility. In WordSurv 4 and 5, only word lists that were entered in the same survey could be compared against each other using WordSurv's linguistics tools. However, any word lists in the database can be compared against each other, regardless of the glosses in them or the surveys that they are associated with. The user may restrict comparisons to word lists from the same survey if desired but that limitation no longer exists in WordSurv 6.
WordSurv6 now uses a wonderfull new grid, complete with "drag and drop". This allows for easy, and user friendly data management!
The database that runs behind WordSurv 6 is even cleaner and more self-managed than before. With the benefit of knowledge gained from the development of WordSurv 4 and 5, the old database was restructured to be cleaner, have stronger data integrity, and have more flexibility than in previous versions. In addition to the flexibility gained from the absence of elicitation lists, another benefit of the new database design that is visible in the user interface is expanded sorting of gloss dictionaries, word lists, and comparison entries. In WordSurv 4 and 5, the user could only define 3 custom sorts for word lists and gloss dictionaries but the new design allows the user to define a virtually unlimited number of different sorts.