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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Sun Nov 29, 1998  1:39 pm
Subject:  2 Programmers Request SW Source Code

November 29, 1998

Dear SignWriting List Members:
This message is about computer programming....

I am happy to tell you that two programmers wrote to me requesting the
SignWriter 4.3 source code. As you may remember from a previous message,
SignWriter 4.3 is for MS-DOS and it is an older program. It is written in
Microsoft Pascal and Assembly Language (computer programming languages).

Even though we are simultaneously developing a newer version, SignWriter
5.0, in the Java programming language, we decided to "open the source code"
for the older 4.3 version, with the hopes that programmers could create
their own new programs for typing SignWriting.

So today I will be sending the SignWriter 4.3 source code to two
progammers. Here are their projects:

Danial A. Parvaz

First of all, all source code written by me will be available under
"copyleft", which means that you can use it freely for non-commercial

Upcoming work:

* A program that will convert a SW file to a series of graphic files.
* A search engine complex enough for serious work in corpus linguistics
* (pie-in-the-sky) Conversion utilities between SW and other
representational systems.

The initial hacks will be in Perl, for a couple of reasons. One, the
development cycle is shorter (for me, anyway); two, it's pretty darn
cross-platform, and three, converting the finished product to C/C++ is
relatively trivial.

The utiltity I have in mind is most specifically for Web applications
where SW files can be converted and displayed "on the fly". This is
particularly important when using a Java applet isn't feasible, either
because of folks using older browsers or because of firewall issues. The
SW code isn't up to this particular task on a few grounds:

1) Most web browsers don't read PCX files.
2) The utility I have in mind will accept as parameters:
a) The name of a SW file
b) The maximum dimensions of the graphics files
c) the SW "font size"
d) background and foreground colors.
3) This needs to be a cross-platform solution that works across various
server architectures. The SW code is, by all accounts, pretty

Danial A. Parvaz


Stuart Thiessen

As for my part, I would certainly work within a licensing structure
like the GPL where the product and source are freely available.

Possible projects (depending on my skill and time)

1) Creating a some kind of interactive linguistic database much like
what the Summer Institute of Linguistics ( has done
with their DOS Shoebox program. The Shoebox program lets their
linguists create a freeform tagged text file that they can use to
document the various features of the languages they study along
with sample sentences and a morphological database, etc. My
concept would try to create a similar process for people to record
signs they have discovered along with meanings, sample
sentences, variations, etc. People could enter their information in
English or in SW or both. Searching capability would be necessary
also. I haven't experimented enough with the dictionary feature of
SW 4.3, but I was considering this kind of a database to be an
independent linguistic database for research or reference purposes.
It might serve as a good comparative database or a spelling tool.
Maybe variations of it could develop into a spell checker or
something. There are several different ways this kind of a program
could develop.

2) Another idea I had was finding out what kind of "utility" program
people might like such as a calendar program, or a e-mail
database, or some other such utility that was built for SW just to
show what could be done. Once this was demonstrated, I would
assume that other ideas would be quickly suggested.

The only caveat for me is that I am only an amateur programmer (in
that I do not do this kind of programming for a living). So, whatever
I do will be part of my own learning and growing as a programmer,
so no one should expect that they are going to get a majorly
"professional" product (unless my skills arrive there in the process)
(SMILE). I will simply do the best I can do with the skills I have.

Thanks, Stuart

Stuart Thiessen
Omaha, Nebraska

Valerie :-)

Valerie Sutton at the DAC
Deaf Action Committee for SW


Center For Sutton Movement Writing
an educational nonprofit organization
Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA

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