From: Wilhelm Ott <Wilhelm.Ott@zdv.uni-tuebingen.de> (63)
Subject: Re: 9.611 software desires & development
In Humanist vol. 9 No. 611, Robert Kraft writes:
> Is there a central location where information can be found about
> software to meet various types of "humanities" computing needs ...
It is not my intention to comment on the feasibility of such a cental
index; but I thought that I should comment on some of Kraft's "concrete
> (1) I've been looking for "comparison" type software to help me not only
> to identify differences in different versions of text files ... on a word
> by word basis (there are lots of line by line comparers...
This is exactly the way TUSTEP (which Bob Kraft mentiones towards
the end of his contribution) works when recording variants found by
automatic collation: it "tries... to group the pair of variant readings
as 'atomistically' as possible, on a word-by-word basis" (quoted from
"Computers and Written Texts", ed. Christopher S. Butler, Oxford/UK &
Cambridge/USA: Blackwell 1992, p. 219).
> ... but to permit me to choose interactively what I
> want in the updated version ...
See ibidem, p. 223: "The selection of variants to be used for different
purposes ... will be supported by the same programs which allow manual
selection (based on markings added to the text) or automatic selection
(based on pattern-matching and other algorithms) for other purposes".
> ... but
> so far I have been surprised by the lack of available software for such
> an obvious and relatively simple task.
That this software is not only a phantom but really available will be
demonstrated during the ALLC-ACH96 conference in Bergen (25-29 June 1996)
in a demo session entitled "Tools for Critical Editing".
In the past, it has successfully applied, as you may remember e.g. from
Hans Walter Gabler's report on the "Computer-Aided Critical Edition of
Ulysses" (in: ALLC Bulletin Vol 8 (1981) No. 3, 232-238), where he
describes in detail some of the computer-aided steps which included
automatic collation and transferring to the collation files at the
terminal the markings necessary for further automatic processing.
I admit that there is not much advertising for TUSTEP, and that the
information mentioned above is hidden in publications like the quoted
ones (which may easily escape one's attention when looking for software)
or in more technical papers like "The Output of Collation Programs"
(41-51 in: Advances in Computer-aided Literary and Linguistic Research,
ed. by D.E. Ager, F.E. Knowles, Joan Smith, Birmingham 1979). There, also
the encoding is outlined for
> (4) ... existing textcritical apparatuses, from which any given manuscript
> ... could be recreated as needed ... for any given portion
(I quote from p.42): "Since these (i.e. the elements provided for
recording a variant reading in the 'difference file') are also the
elements of the correction instructions for a batch-processing correction
program, the output of the collation program is compatible with this
correction program: one migth take text A and the 'difference file' as
input to the correction program and would get, as the result, text B".
And, of course, these entries can be generated also "manually", e.g. by
transcribing an existing critical apparatus (cf. p. 223 in "Computers
and Written Text"): "the modular procedure described above supports the
mixing of automatic and conventional collation, since it separates the
recording of the variant readings from any evaluation of these variants".
> Better software ... would seem to me very desirable
To improve TUSTEP, we need input from users telling us what they are
missing there. You are warmly invited to contribute.
> Sorry for the length. ...
Sorry also for the length of the answer - W. Ott
Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Ott phone: +49-7071-292933
Universitaet Tuebingen fax: +49-7071-295912
Zentrum fuer Datenverarbeitung e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org