6.0009 Text Retrieval (2/78)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 13 May 1992 22:02:40 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0009. Wednesday, 13 May 1992.

(1) Date: Mon,11 May 92 11:10:05 BST (10 lines)
From: J.M.Reeves@vme.glasgow.ac.uk
Subject: Re: 6.0002 Text Retrieval

(2) Date: Mon, 11 May 92 23:26:18 EDT (68 lines)
From: Brian WHittaker <BRIANW@VM2.YorkU.CA>
Subject: Text Retrieval Software on the Mac

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Mon,11 May 92 11:10:05 BST
From: J.M.Reeves@vme.glasgow.ac.uk
Subject: Re: 6.0002 EQs: E-Lists; E-Text Legalities; Text Retrieval (3/78)

I think GOPHER (a desk accessory) will do what you want. It finds
every occurence of a specified string in any number of files.

It's names comes from the phrase "go fer this, go fer that".

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------79----
Date: Mon, 11 May 92 23:26:18 EDT
From: Brian WHittaker <BRIANW@VM2.YorkU.CA>
Subject: Text Retrieval Software on the Mac

I'm inclined to agree with Brian Ogilvie's strategy of finding
powerful search tools so that a database can be kept in the form of
an ASCII text file for several reasons. First, the ASCII file can
be transfered to any computer environment, including your university's
UNIX or IBM mainframe, where some really powerful search tools reside;
the ASCII file is not tied to a specific data base programme or even
operating system (My one experence with a powerful data base programme
was Borland's REFLEX, part of Borland's total failure to penetrate the
Mac market). Second, a powerful search tool effectively creates a
new database with each search query, so you're not bound to the
conceptual framework you brought to your subject the year you set up

GOPHER is significantly cheaper than SONAR (well under a hundred dollars)
and does most of what Brian suggests in his message. It's a DA and
searches closed files, including EXCELL as well as the standard word
processor and text files. GOPHER can only search files that are
actually on disks currently in the computer. Boolean searches are
possible (more or less) with proximity factors added, an important
addition. I use GOPHER for chores ranging from finding a student
from half a dozen years ago in several diskas full of Excell grade-
sheets, to simple collocationnalanalysis for stylistics.

ON LOCATION is the immediate competition for GOPHER. It costs about
twice as much, is faster, and can search at least some data in files
which are not currently in the computer but have passed through at
some time in the past. I have not used ON LOCATION, so I cannot
comments on the power of its search commands.

NISUS, the word processor, is worth looking into. It stores the
text as an ASCII file in the data fork of the Macintosh file, and
the word processor formatting in the resource fork, so its files
can be treated either as ASCII text files or as formatted files.
Most important, its FIND facility includes a full implementation
of GREP (THE Unix Boolean tool), and a user-friendly interface
that lets you choose between GREP code or selecting your
Boolean criteria from menus. (Most word processors are primarily
office memo and business letter generators; NISUS is the closest
thing for Mac users to a true text manipulation tool for writers
and researchers.)

There is an ancient shareware DA called GREP WC, which was one of the
first word counters for the Macintosh. It *also* included real GREP,
for those who do their Boolean searches with punctuation marks and
alphabet soup.

There is a recent shareware version of AWK (a UNIX search tool) for the
Mac called GAWK. I haven't tried it yet.

I have read interesting things about SGML, a powerful data base programmme
which actually does operate by providing an extemely flexible search
tool that operates on data stored in text files. I believe SGML is
native to the IBM mainframe world. I do not know if a MAC version is
available. I suspect this may be the ideal programme... probably
because I don't have it :>)


Brian Whittaker BRIANW@VM2.YorkU.CA
Atkinson College, York University (Please do not omit the W)