Sandy in UK: Flexible computer programming

Jonathan duncanjonathan at YAHOO.CA
Tue May 29 20:53:26 UTC 2007

Sandy Fleming wrote:
> Jonathan,
> It will be compatible in the sense that I'll provide features that make
> it possible to store and read those other formats, and to convert
> between my formats and those.
> I've tried very hard to use the numbers in the Sutton Symbol Sequence
> when storing the signs, but have given up on it. If you want to program
> with complete freedom and to be able to store the orientations and so on
> with precision, then you need to take an engineering approach, not the
> SSS integer approach.
Hi Sandy,
    My program is using the numbers in the Sutton Symbol Sequence for
working with the signs.  But it won't have all of the precision yours
does. I might use the database register number to actually store it
internally but that can easily be converted back to the SSS number.  I
use the SSS without all of the dashes.  But is should be easy to put
them back in when converting it to an XML format for sharing with others.
    Do you feel the a format like the SWML-S would be adequate if it had
the sequence added to it?  Do you think that colors should be specified
in the format too?  Will you keep track of which symbol is the right and
and which is the left?  Mine will.  If my program is the only one that
tracks this then it might not be a good idea to put it into the XML
format. But if yours does then maybe we could include it.
> What I do use, however, are the symbol _names_ in the SSS. These are
> perfect for labelling symbols from within the program (whether you use
> strings or variable names) and don't have the fill or rotation, which we
> want to express in engineering terms rather than as a proprietary (and
> chunky!) system of numbers.
> So instead of:
> "01-01-001-02-02-01"
> I use:
> "IndexOnCircle"
> to label the symbol, plus variables holding the rotation, fill,
> position, and symbol category.
> Rotation is in degrees from vertically upwards (because I always start
> off by thinking of handshapes symbols with their fingers vertically
> upwards): normally anticlockwise, but for the left hand, clockwise.
> Fill is a decimal number between 0 and 1 inclusive.
> Position is expressed as the (x, y) distance from the origin. It's
> important that the units used relate to the distances within the sign
> and not something that can change such as the size at the screen. So I
> use a handsbreadth as the unit of distance (the length of a side of the
> fist symbol or, equivalently, the diameter of the circle handshape).
> The category number is useful to store so that the program can use it to
> know how to treat different symbols (head symbols behave differently
> from hand symbols, which behave differently from movement symbols and so
> on) although I have to adjust it for some things. For example, I treat
> the features of the head (eye, mouth, nose, head circle etc) as symbols
> in their own right, I don't try to use entire facial expressions as
> separate symbols, because this causes a combinatorial explosion.
>>     The program I am working on is staying more conservative in using
>> strictly the IMWA.  I think that it will use the next version of the
>> ISWA once it is ready.  I was asking the above questions because I am
>> thinking about how my program could exchange information with other
>> SignWriting programs and thought that it would be insightful as to how
>> others plan on changing some of the technical details of computer
>> SignWriting for even better options and how this will impact sharing
>> documents between programs.
> Since my program stores more detailed information than other programs, I
> have no problem writing something to store my data in other formats: the
> other programs will lose some of the information, but that's OK since
> they don't use it. Conversely, when reading a different format such as
> SWML I can supply the missing information as defaults or calculations
> within my program.
I feel the same for my program.  Not everybody will use the information
in their formats.  It will be good to have one format to interchange the
basic information.
> Of course none of this allows me to store the sorting sequence within my
> program, but that's no problem, I'll just make up a table to map between
> the SSS numbers and SSS naming system. We'll need to try to share stuff
> like this!
> Sandy

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