Easy database for words (dictionary)?
January 29, 2008 9:40 PM   Subscribe

I want to make a dictionary database of words, where I can query part of speech, spelling patterns, pronunciation patterns, number of syllables, definitions, etc. Is Access best for this? Or are there other smaller, free applications you would suggest? Ideally I would like a lot of control over query output layout. Ease of use is important. (I never felt Access was so user-friendly [maybe that's true of all databases in general], but I'm a whiz at Excel. Unfortunately, using XL as a DB isn't very pretty.)
posted by strangeguitars to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
For what it's worth use the acronym DBMS in your searching.

"Database" just describes the internal record and file structure and you sound like you want an interface with the records, software that preforms acts like 'adding' 'deleting' 'editing' so on.

You do have lot's of choices besides Access and Excel. I think MySQL could score highest on "control over query output layout" and FileMaker would score highest on "ease of use" level of the ones I've heard.
posted by oblio_one at 10:13 PM on January 29, 2008

Best answer: Are you looking for recommendations on a database system you're planning to populate yourself, or an off-the-shelf dataset you can use? If the latter, I have no recommendations.

Access is generally about sixth on the list of possible RDMSs I'll recommend to a client, but I think in your case it might be a good option. It doesn't scale terribly well and its use of VB functions instead of standard SQL is usually a deal-killer for me. However, if you don't already know SQL, and this is something you might update/import data into once (and therefore scalability isn't a concern).

If that's in fact the case, then I think you'll be pretty happy with what you can do with Access in terms of formatting your query output. Put together a simple query, run it through the "Create a New Report" wizard (which formats queries/tables for printing) and customize it to your heart's content. In addition, if you want to build forms to look up/add/edit/delete information, again, it's more or less just a matter of running the "Create a New Form" wizard. Another advantage of Access is that you'll have the data, structure, reports, queries and forms all contained within a single file, instead of having to mess around with installing (a) the database; (b) an interface like PHPMyAdmin; (c) a web server with Apache and PHP (for PHPMyAdmin); and possibly (d) learning a language like PHP to learn how to format the output like you want it.

If the above is relevant, and you planning to build/populate the database yourself, do yourself a favor and do a little background reading on database normalization. Too many Access newbies dump everything in a single table (i.e., using Access like Excel, as a flat file), and it becomes a real PITA to maintain.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 3:48 AM on January 30, 2008

I don't know how much programing you're prepared to do, but wordnet might be a good place to start.
posted by demiurge at 9:45 AM on January 30, 2008

If you do know SQL, SQLite is a good lightweight SQL database that lets you avoid having to worry about running an actual database server. Basically, an SQLite file is an SQL database contained within a single file. All you need is a client program to open the database.

There exist graphical clients for SQLite; one that I've tried is SQLiteSpy, which works in Windows. You could also just as easily access the SQLite database using the command line, or via many programming languages that support it.

This is only going to be useful if you're pretty comfortable with SQL though, because in general you'll have to manually write your queries as opposed to have them generated by some interface.
posted by destrius at 5:59 AM on January 31, 2008

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