In the following, it is important to understand that we have two kinds of users. One, which we will call the adviser, is somewhat computer savvy and uses a normal full powered computer, perhaps with lexicon for the programs like FieldWorks Language Explorer, Lexique Pro, or Toolbox. The other person, who we will just call the user, is the person running WeSay to enter data in his or her own language.

Considering using WeSay

What does it take to run the software?

WeSay currently runs on Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and (probably) Windows 2000. It requires Microsoft .Net Framework 3.5, or Ubuntu Linux with Mono. It runs fine on inexpensive netbooks like the Asus Eees. Using the BALSA OS-on-SD-Card, it can be used on the rugged One-Laptop-Per-Child XO machines.

How do I translate the User Interface into a local language?

WeSay is easy to “localize.” See the instructions here: LocalizingWeSay.

How will WeSay exchange data with “full strength” desktop applications (e.g. FieldWorks Language Explorer)?

WeSay uses the LIFT format to store files. Use LIFTbridge to enable ongoing easy interchange between both FieldWorks and WeSay on one or more computers. WeSay’s LIFT files can be read by Lexique Pro and imported into FieldWorks Language Explorer (FLEx). WeSay can export to Toolbox format.

How do I get my Toolbox dictionary into WeSay?

WeSay uses a different file format than Toolbox. It’s called LIFT XML. This format is also supported by FieldWorks Language Explorer (FLEx) and Lexique Pro. If your dictionary is very simple, you may be able to convert it to LIFT using Lexique Pro. A bit more complicated, and you should use FLEx. Finally, the average 10-year-old, linguist-produced Toolbox dictionary will probably need days of cleanup. We suggest using SOLID as the first stage of that, and the FLEx SFM import as the second stage. Due to SFM’s inherent inadequacies with respect to representing hierarchical data, this cleanup is often a “computer consultant” level job.

What programming language are you using to create this software?

We are using C# .Net (on Windows) with mono (on Linux) with Windows Forms GUI.

Where is the data stored?

WeSay data is stored in a folder, with the lexicon in a LIFT-format XML file, and other things (audio, images, etc.) in sub-folders. When you create a new project (on Windows), WeSay just puts it in My Documents/WeSay/. You can move this anywhere you want.

WeSay purposefully downplays the location of files, as we find that our target audience is most “safe” when they do not deal with the file system.

Some people have gone looking for the actual sample data files. On Windows, the sample data (Biatah) is installed in the “common application data” folder, which is in different places on different operating systems. On Vista, it is at C:\ProgramData\SIL\WeSay\Samples.

Will WeSay be able to handle my complex script situation?

Complex rendering of Arabic ligature

Before Windows 7, WeSay used Uniscribe to deliver Graphite scripts. As of Windows 7, this doesn’t work. On Linux, the situation is even worse… many scripts which are not complex will still not render correctly. We know how to fix this, at the cost of a few months of work. Is this important to you and worth our effort? Then head over the suggestions page and vote for it.

How is this licensed?

WeSay code is available under the permissive MIT License. If you are just using the software, you don’t need to care about these details. Just know that it is free to everyone.