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[ddlm-group] A dictionary-writing workshop in Hyderabad?

  • To: ddlm-group <ddlm-group@iucr.org>
  • Subject: [ddlm-group] A dictionary-writing workshop in Hyderabad?
  • From: James Hester <jamesrhester@gmail.com>
  • Date: Thu, 3 Nov 2016 13:29:34 +1100
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Dear DDLm group,

From time to time I get enquiries on creating CIF dictionaries for various disciplines (pressure, reflectometry, electron diffraction are the most recent).  It occurs to me that there might be sufficient interest in the general and technical aspects of CIF dictionaries that a one-day workshop at Hyderabad would be worthwhile.  At the conclusion of the workshop, participants should be able to produce a syntactically-correct (DDLm) dictionary with consistent and correct semantics, and the attendees would be invited to come prepared with a list of concepts that they would like to put into a dictionary.  In a broader sense, the workshop would kick-start new dictionary efforts and may interact nicely with those commissions that are being pushed to produce some metadata for their fields by the DDDWG/IUCr executive.  In an ideal world, the content of dictionaries begun at the workshop could be finalised in consultation with colleagues on the spot during the IUCr conference, whether at commission meetings or in ad-hoc discussions, and some of us could make ourselves available for immediate consultation throughout the meeting.

Suggested topics:
(1) Introduction: dictionary layout, role the dictionary plays, what is a category?
(2) First steps: collecting and classifying concepts (single-valued, multi-valued, assigned, measured, derived,...)
(3) Sorting concepts into categories
(4) Writing the human-readable definitions
(5) Assigning datanames
(6) Assigning attributes; overview of available attributes
(7) Describing interaction with other CIF dictionaries (import)
(8) How expansion works (the _audit.schema system)
(9) Adding to existing dictionaries

I would not propose covering dREL in detail due to time constraints. Note also that much of the material is not CIF specific, but whether we want to sell it that way I'm not sure.  There would be plenty of "practical" sessions where participants actually worked on their own dictionary - we might choose a useful mini-topic as an example for those who haven't come with any particular field in mind.

It would also be useful to have some DDLm dictionary-writing tools (checkers/GUIs) available, if anybody has something they could polish up in time.

What does the rest of the group think of this idea?  While I'm happy to take a lead role in putting it together, we would need some volunteers to help prepare materials, present, and wander around the room helping.

all the best,
James.
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