Game Plan

In the famous words of Benjamin Franklin, ‘by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’. With this in mind the App Team started by researching existing approaches to terminology searches before we began to put together a concrete model for the app.
In order to gain an understanding of the functions of terminology search systems, four group members researched the following websites: http://www.multilingual.ch/, http://www.intelliwebsearch.com/, http://babelnet.org/ and https://www.google.com/advanced_search. Assessing the advantages and disadvantages of these websites, we began to share ideas of what we felt would be suitable and unsuitable for our Smart Phone app TermSeeker. Through these findings, we have compiled a list of priorities for the project – some areas, like precise function, have come earlier on in the process and others, like appearance and design, will be decided later on. In terms of how this research relates to our app, we will draw on the positive features of the websites, remedy the slightly less helpful elements and find what it is about our app that will make it unique. The priorities below will be addressed and the following questions answered as we work our way further into the project:

• Efficiency: Surely one of the characteristics paramount to the making of TermSeeker will be speed. In order to make an app worth using instead of a website, the process must be quick and painless. What’s the point of an app if it could be quicker to get out a computer, power it up, sign in and search for a term over a bigger screen? How can we make the app quick and easy to use?

• Accessibility: While most of our potential users would be language or translation aficionados, they may not necessarily be particularly technology-literate. There is no use in presenting a user with an over-complicated, confusing app that they can’t relate to. Using our app should be a stress-free experience – what might we need to put in place to ensure this?

• Variety of language: We haven’t decided for definite which languages will be used for TermSeeker but we are in the process of doing so. Having compiled a list of the collective languages spoken by our main module students, we hope that there should be a decent language variety on offer – watch this space!

• Fairly large database: In order to offer users a range of valid sources, we would need to be looking at a database that wouldn’t limit our search options unnecessarily. Further research will need to be done into this area.

• Possibility of searching for results in a particular category: This may be something that won’t possible until further down the line but it is something interesting to bear in mind: if users could customise and filter their search for their own needs (for example, searching for the term in using a certain country code), this would add to the flexibility and personalisation of the app. Which categories would we want to prioritise in our search options?

• Neat, slick design: Later on in the project we will work on the appearance and the design of the app. We will need to remember that, on the smaller screen of a Smart Phone, the priority would be not to overload the user with written information and to keep have a tidy, concise design. What will our logo look like? What will the layout and colour scheme be?

We hope that, as we continue on our app-making journey, the above questions will become clear!

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Getting started…

In September 2015 a UCL E-Learning Development Grant was awarded for us to develop a mobile app to assist in the task of finding terminology on-line. The main participants include a group of about ten students on the MA in Translation Theory and Practice along with their lecturer, Mark Shuttleworth. This blog has been set up to record the project’s progress and to reflect on it as a learning experience for all the participants. We hope that writing the blog will be of benefit to ourselves, but also that it will provide a record of our experiences that may possibly be of benefit to others wishing to undertake something of a similar nature.

The app is going to be called TermSeeker. As an initial step, different team members took a close look at the existing approaches to terminology searching provided by Multilingual.ch, IntelliWebSearch, BabelNet.org and Google Advanced Search. Having considered the possibilities that these different utilities offer we have agreed that the app will have the task of helping the user to find glossaries rather than individual terminology items within a particular subject area. The next stage is now to work out in slightly more detail precisely what we want the app to achieve.

We are experimenting with the use of wiki as a way of developing plans in writing and will also be communicating with each other via the asynchronous chat facility offered by the Moodle Virtual Learning Environment as well as through team meetings that are taking place every week or so. At the time of writing various team members are trying out a number of functions that are being considered for inclusion in the app. The intention is that our plans will be implemented during the spring term in the form of an actual app that will be available for some or all of the main platforms.

This blog is intended to be a permanent record of the project, visible from outside the College as well as inside. It is envisaged that different team members will write the posts that will be produced over the coming weeks.