What I Work With

Occasionally, fellow conlangers – especially beginning ones – want to know how other people work and which tools they use. This list here is by no means authoritative, but just a collection of tools I’ve come to prefer myself over time.

Most of the work on Ayeri was done on the same laptop that I have been using for 9 years, but eventually I settled on a new machine. I’ve run various flavors of Ubuntu on the old laptop over the years, and don’t plan to change that on the new one in the foreseeable future either (I’ve been running Kubuntu since 2013 or so). Personally, I find Linux way more language friendly than Windows since it’s far more configurable and open for tinkering with input methods and such things (e.g. XCompose or IBus), but there are also little helpers for Windows.

Besides that, I like to take notes on paper sometimes, especially when it’s vocabulary. Notes taken on the computer I will often print out to put them into the ring binder where I keep my handwritten notes (in case my computer will eventually give up the ghost) but also, for example, print-outs of linguistics articles. In spite of keeping a handwritten list of freshly made-up vocabulary, I will always transfer new words to the computer as quickly as possible.

Also important for research, of course, are books, whether the few linguistics books I have in my own possession or ones borrowed from my university’s library. Linguistics articles found on the internet are very helpful, too, and many researchers put their stuff online these days.

On my computer, the mainly relevant software I use is:

  • The Kate text editor to quickly take digital notes and to edit code (on Windows, Notepad++ is quite nice);
  • LibreOffice Writer and LaTeX (specifically, XeTeX for Unicode support) to take more fancy notes and to create PDF documents;
  • LibreOffice Calc to keep lists;
  • Python for my scripting needs;
  • WordPress for editing this website. I’m running it on my own, paid webspace (for this site about $25/yr.) so that I have full control over it. Maintaining a website with WordPress is rather easy, but due to its popularity it’s often the first thing hackers and spammers try to exploit. Also, it’s rather clunky. Pelican looks like it might be quite useful as a more lightweight alternative if you like Python and don’t need dynamic content.
  • phpMyAdmin and Django to maintain the MySQL database I keep my dictionary in. I wrote some things in PHP to tie the database querying frontend into WordPress myself. WordPress’ template system comes in handy here: the form you can see on the Dictionary page is an HTML template file that calls a PHP script which queries the database and returns the results.

Occasionally, I also find myself using:

  • Changed things to reflect current tools.
  • Changed things to reflect current tools.
  • Added Inkscape, FontForge and Audacity.
  • Updated images, and new computer …