Monday, March 3, 2008


I started this blog to keep track of what I do for CasualConc, experimental concordancing software for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard (and possibly later version of OS X).

I started to learn a scripting language called Ruby, which is similar to Perl or Python, last summer. The main reason I chose Ruby was that there are many documentations in Japanese. I don't know if I made a right decision, but at least I tried Perl and Ruby but I like Ruby better for no particular reason (Perl simply didn't appeal to me when I tried). Another reason was that I read somewhere that Apple decided to include software (?) that bridges Ruby and Cocoa, Mac OS X's GUI framework (?) in Leopard. It's called RubyCocoa and it allows users to add Mac GUI to Ruby scripts (btw, there's a similar one for Python). Isn't this cool?

At first, I used Ruby for my work (I'm working as Instructional Technology Consultant at my school), but later decided to learn it more seriously. I'm interested in corpus linguistics and want to do some corpus-based/driven research, so I decided to write some scripts for basic corpus analyses. When OS X 10.5 Leopard came out, I had a few simple scripts for kwic, word count, etc., so I tried to add GUI to them. It wasn't very easy because there isn't much documentation for RubyCocoa. So I had to learn both Ruby and Cocoa and combine them to make GUI work.

Now, I have added some more features to kwic and word count and named it CasualConc. It is Mac GUI based software written in Ruby+RubyCocoa. Because the developing environment is OS X 10.5 Leopard, it only runs on Leopard. There might be a way to make it run on Tiger, but I don't want to spend time on it simply because I don't have time (and I don't have expertise). The current version is 0.9 and still in beta (well, beta simply means I call it so). I don't have much time to make a lot of changes now. From now on, I try to fix major bugs and write up some documents. And now I want to have someone to test it.

There is no guarantee that this works for you, but if you are interested, I'm happy to have you as a beta tester. Here's basic info:

System requirement: a Mac with a lot of memory (at least 1GB) and that runs Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard (Universal, well, this is mostly written in Ruby...), optimized for screen at least 1280px wide (13.3 inch or larger on notebook or 17 inch or larger on desktop LCD)
Acceptable file format: text files (.txt) encoded in ASCII or UTF-8 (Ruby is not good at handling character encodings)
Acceptable languages: any single-byte character language (double-byte character languages (East Asian languages) can be analyzed except for kwic concordancing as long as words are separated by single-byte space)
Target User: Mac users who don't want to start up Windows machine, switch to BootCamp, or run Virtual PC/Parallels/VM Ware for simple concordancing for preliminary analysis, preparing teaching materials, learning, etc. (CasualConc is probably not good enough as your primary research tool)

I use CasualConc on my Mac mini (1.86GHz Core 2 Duo) and have used it on G4 (1.5GHz) machine. It works fine for me, but with faster CPU and more memory, performance is better. With 1 million corpus, it works at reasonable speed (not as fast as WordSmith Tools). With a corpus larger than that, well, you can try.

If you are interested, check out CasualConc site. Documentation is not complete (far from it), so if you have never used any concordancer, you might find it difficult to use. But if you have, you can probably use most of the basic features.

By the way, this is freeware.

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