by André Moreira

A new LEXUS interface is now part of the TextGrid Laboratory environment.

Since 2010 TLA together with the Institut für Deutsche Sprache (IDS), have been developing the required technology to integrate LEXUS into the TextGrid Laboratory. Starting from the last TextGrid Laboratory Beta release on the 7th of December 2011, this work is now available to the public.

TextGrid is a joint research project, part of the D-Grid initiative, and is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). It aims to support access to and exchange of data in the arts and humanities by means of modern information technology (the grid).
TextGrid serves as a virtual research environment for philologists, linguists, musicologists and art historians. As a single point of entry to the virtual research environment, the TextGrid Laboratory provides integrated access to specialized tools, services and content.

The TextGrid Laboratory is a cross-platform, highly modular software application based on the Eclipse RCP platform. The modularity is brought to the user via various available plug-ins, which can be installed to expand the Laboratory functionality. Each of these plug-ins is usually a different tool, and when put together create “a single point of entry to the virtual research environment”. The application bundles, by default, a set of plug-ins, which are available right after installation and where LEXUS is now included.

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Figure 1 - TextGrid Laboratory architecture portrait

The LEXUS plug-in itself, aims to emphasize the possibilities of using the LEXUS web service for the language resources commonly encountered in the TextGrid environment, as well as to demonstrate the usability of the TextGrid environment for non-standard languages as the ones commonly found in LEXUS.
From the user point of view it is a very simple plug-in which allows the user to search for occurrences of a certain word or character sequence in a lexical database. As in LEXUS, the search can be conducted in specific datacategories of a lexicon and different search setups can be used, e.g. searching for all the lexical entries that start with a certain prefix (fig. 2).
When displaying the results, LEXUS presents the full structure and data of the lexical entry containing the match, as well as a custom HTML view for that specific entry. This HTML view can be customized by the data manager (lexicon owner) through the regular LEXUS interface, thus enabling very flexible control over the layout of the lexical entries.

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Figure 2 - TextGrid-LEXUS plug-in screenshot. Searching for the prefix 'auf' in the German syllabification lexicon.

Technically the LEXUS-TextGrid implementation is divided into two main components: the TextGrid Laboratory plug-in, providing to the user a full SWT-based user interface, and a SOAP web-service made available through the LEXUS back-end running on TLA servers.
Even though the web-service was developed within the scope of TextGrid’s, it also allows other clients to interface with it, as currently already happens with the LEXUS plug-in for ELAN.

For the time being every TextGrid Laboratory user will have two lexica available out of the box to search and explore. These are very simple lexica, which were made available for demonstration purposes. One containing the syllabification of most known German words, and the other containing a sample set of lexical entries from the Wichita endangered language.

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Figure 3 - TextGrid-LEXUS plug-in screenshot. Searching the Wichita lexicon. Note the custom HTML layout on the right.

In the future we plan to extend the functionality made available by LEXUS in the TextGrid Laboratory, for instance by assigning to each user a private LEXUS workspace so that the user can also have private lexica, in addition to the lexica made available for every TextGrid Laboratory user.
Moreover, plans exist to further integrate ANNEX into the TextGrid Laboratory, enabling more TLA software functionality in the Laboratory workbench.