Friday, 14 October 2011

InScribeX Web 3.4 available

The InScribeX Web software is now updated to preview version 3.4, replacing the previous version 3.3. This uses the latest version of my word list/database for the dictionary feature. 3.4 contains over 30,000 references, representing an increase of about 2000 new entries since 3.3. There are also about 1500 corrections and clarifications to references present in the previous version. In short the database is getting close to my objectives for the first draft.

References in the dictionaries are as follows:

  • AEM refers to Ancient Egyptian Medicine by J F Nunn (1996).

  • DME refers to Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian by R O Faulkner (1961).

  • EG refers to Egyptian Grammar by A Gardiner (Third edition, 1957).

  • GHAD refers to Großes Handwörterbuch Ägyptisch-Deutsch by Rainer Hannig (2006).

  • ME refers to Middle Egyptian by J P Allen (2000).

  • Wb refers to Wörterbuch der Aegyptischen Sprach by A Erman and H Grapow (1926, 1971).

The largest single sub-collection of references is that from Wörterbuch which accounts for about 46% of the total number of references. Here my selection has been strongly guided by the ‘Beinlich word list’ although the German-English translations and transliterations into MdC machine coded hieroglyphs are my own.

The second largest sub-collection is from the Concise Dictionary, 38% of the total. The organisation of this Faulkner material largely follows the ‘Vygus word list’ though I’ve made a fairly large number of changes and MdC transliterations were done from scratch.

The smallest sub-collection currently is that from GHAD. This is only being used to add references relating to use of some of the rarer hieroglyphs.

I’d like to repeat and emphasise that InScribeX Web dictionaries are not intended to substitute for use of the various publications referenced. The user will want to refer directly to the Faulkner, Gardiner and other books to understand the context in which my dictionary entries are given. For instance Wörterbuch gives many alternative ‘spellings’ beyond those included in IXW at present. Egyptian Grammar has many instances of words not referenced in the current list, along with far more about the language and words beyond that of a simple list. Faulkner gives many references to the sources of his material.

To complete the first draft of the word list/database, I still have a parcel of work to tidy up references using rarer hieroglyphs so as to have a solid footing from which to tackle some practical issues of what to do with signs that are not in the Basic Egyptian Hieroglyphs set standardized in Unicode 5.2 (2009).

There is also a batch of references that needs re-checking and/or revised German-English translations.

I am therefore expecting several hundred more references and a bunch of corrections to the current set before drawing a line under this phase.

My current plan is still to incorporate these changes in a version 3.5 this winter to complete the IXW preview 3 developments. It also remains my intention to defer software changes (beyond anything of a minor technical nature) until this work is completed.

Friday, 9 September 2011

InScribeX Web directions (September 2011)

Next week Microsoft will be making announcements about Windows 8 and I expect this will raise speculation on software futures in the press. So now seems like a good time to forestall any questions about any implications for InScribeX Web directions over the next year or so.

In short, Silverlight/.Net has been a successful technical choice for development of IXW to date and I plan to continue to use Silverlight through 2012 to further evolve IXW and explore more aspects of Ancient Egyptian in Unicode as a cross-platform Mac OSX/Windows (XP and later) solution.

Nevertheless there are some other desirable developments in Ancient Egyptian on computer that don’t fit into the IXW cross-platform approach, for instance deeper integration with other applications and efficient support for a variety of low power and touch screen devices. I’d like to share some thinking on these topics here in the near future.

Meanwhile IXW is currently at Preview 3.3 (the third update this year) and I’m on track for a 3.4 release next month. The ‘preview 3’ series to wrap this Winter with 3.5 which completes the first draft of the word list/dictionaries and incorporates more analysis on sign lists.

I’ve been holding back user interface changes until Preview 4 which is intended to enable continuation of the step by step approach I’ve taken this year. Whereas the 2011 theme has been building a more comprehensive dictionary, the main 2012 theme is teasing out the relationships between ‘Simplified Egyptian’, hieroglyphs in Unicode, and MdC encodings and I hope to continue the dynamic of updates every 2/3 months in the 4.x framework. More on this closer to the time.

Monday, 22 August 2011

InScribeX Web 3.3 now available

I've just released the latest version of InScribeX Web. Version 3.3 is the third update this year following version 3.1 (April) and 3.2 (June). The dictionary now contains over 28,000 references, an increase of around 50% from the 3.0 version released last year.

There are no changes to system requirements to run InScribeX Web so virtually all Windows and Intel-based Mac machines are supported.

As far as the draft (EGPZ) word list used as the basis of the dictionaries is concerned, references to Egyptian Grammar (Gardiner) and Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian (Faulkner) are regarded as complete for the time being with this version 3.3 (aside from any remaining corrections required).

For development of the word list, I currently have a hit-list of 580 existing references needing further research and about 2500+ further references to be added before reaching my target of what to include in the first draft. In practical terms, I'm aiming for an updated 3.4 release in the Autumn as a stepping stone to a completed first draft.

Aside from the word list/dictionaries, there are other topics such as MdC and InScribe document editing, Simplified Egyptian, Egyptian in HTML, expanding the Unicode repertoire, and mathematical modelling of Egyptian. None of which are planned for 3.4 although I'm still actively prototyping in these areas.

Note. InScribeX Web is still based on Silverlight 3 (or later) in the (possibly forlorn) hope that 'Moonlight' (the Linux equivalent to Silverlight for Windows and Mac) will catch up this year. However the whole cross-platform question has moved on since the first 2009 version of InScribeX Web most visibly with the growth of the smartphone user base, and the profile of first generation mass-market Tablet/Slate devices. I'll try to address some of the questions of how this affects Ancient Egyptian in the digital world, and InScribeX in particular, in future blog posts.