Bart Alewijnse (2008)
Towards a more usable L04 package
Master's thesis, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.
[ Paper (PDF, 616 kb) ]


The L04 dialectometric package gives its users interesting features in three domains: string comparison, numeric data analysis, and cartography. Having grown around immediate needs, it does however present some rather specific solutions to various problems. L04 takes the shape of a set of command line utilities that can be flexibly combined in various ways, though its setup as well as documentation is rather technical. At points, L04 even seems opposed to ease of use. Intentions and meanings of features and documentation can be unclear, some pivotal analysis choices are only identified by close reading, while aspects like character coding, data structuring, and any necessary text translation intricacies are left entirely to the user to execute and verify. This makes it far from trivial to use for researchers with more interest in linguistic variation than in unix command lines. While L04's tutorials explain a good amount of details and alternatives, it is still easy to be insecure about how one should proceed and how to plan the steps to support a particular goal.

This thesis aims to be an analysis of the problem points that users of L04 regularly meet, with an eye to eliminating them and to making L04 more immediately useful and pleasing for its potential users.

This means development of a hopefully easy to use graphical interface, as well as simplifying data input, data organization and data alteration, minimizing learning curves, and lessening the insecurities about whether the program is doing what a user intends.