Xlit's graphical user interface



A bug that interfered with batch mode operation has been fixed.


Xlit is a program for transliterating text, that is, for converting text from one writing system into another. It allows the user to define a transliteration simply by typing the input strings in one window and the strings to which they are to be mapped in another. This makes it suitable for use for dealing with non-standard transliteration, such as those often necessary between the language notes made by a missionary, trader, or other amateur and technical linguistic notation, or between linguistic notation and a practical writing system.

xlit also provides some advanced facilities not found in typical transliteration and encoding conversion programs. It is often necessary to restrict transliteration to particular parts of the text. xlit understands a variety of delimiters and if so instructed will transliterate only the regions enclosed by the specified delimiters or only their complements. It can also convert one type of delimiter to another.

xlit input and output is in UTF-8 Unicode. At present, it is limited to the Basic Monolingual Plane (the first 16 bits) because the language in which it is written, Tcl/Tk, only supports the BMP. Once Tcl/Tk supports full Unicode, so will xlit.

A number of tools are provided to facilitate the development of transliterations. There are popup windows for entering International Phonetic Alphabet characters and other phonetic notation and a widget for entering Unicode characters by codepoint where necessary. A variety of tools are provided for search and movement within the various windows.

In some situations it is desirable to present a transliteration together with the original version rather than replacing the original with the transliteration. xlit can be configured to do this. The user may choose whether the untransliterated copy precedes or follows the transliteration and how, if at all, the untransliterated copy should be delimited.

Xlit can read and write transliteration definitions in its own format and as Yudit keymap definitions and can be run in batch mode without the GUI.

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You can read the reference manual (a web page with lots of screenshots) here. A copy is included with the program.

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Xlit should run anywhere that Tcl/Tk is available. It has been successfully tested on GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, SunOS, Mac OS X, and MS Windows 2000. However, note that on FreeBSD tclsh is not a link to the most recent version of tclsh but a shell script that explains that the version number must be supplied and exits. On FreeBSD, it is therefore necessary either to invoke xlit indirectly, as an argument to tclsh, e.g. tclsh8.4 xlit ... or to edit xlit and replace tclsh in the fourth line with tclsh8.4 (or whatever the current version is).

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DependenciesIwidgets (Tcl/Tk library)
Current version2.4
Last modified2008-12-29
LicenseGNU General Public License

Note: the need for Tk.

The Tk and Iwidgets packages are needed for the normal operation of the program, that is, with the graphical user interface. They are not needed if the program is run in batch mode. In batch mode it is sufficient to have the pure Tcl environment provided by tclsh.

Note: obtaining the necessary Tcl/Tk environment.

The GUI requires both the basic Tcl/Tk distribution and the iwidgets library. If you already have Tcl/Tk and just need to add iwidgets, you can obtain the package from the Sourceforge project site. On the download page you will find source and binary packages for both [incr Tcl/Tk], which is the basic part of this package, and [incr widgets], which is the part that contains the widgets. You will need to install both. (iwidgets is an alternative name for [incr widgets].)

The easiest way to obtain the Tcl/Tk environment you need is to install the ActiveTcl distribution from ActiveState. This distribution provides the Tcl language, the Tk graphics library, and a bunch of extensions, including [incr tcl] and [incr widgets]. Don't be concerned by the fact that ActiveState is a commercial outfit. The Tcl/Tk distribution that they provide is free as in both beer and speech. They make their money selling services and programming tools. The ActiveTcl distribution is currently available for: GNU/Linux, HP-UX, AIX, Solaris, Mac OS X, and MS Windows.

For FreeBSD, Tcl and Tk are available at:

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If you would like to be notified of new releases, subscribe to xlit at Freshmeat.

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Change Log

Version 2.4 - 2008-12-29

Version 2.3

Version 2.2

Full Change Log
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Known Bugs

Invocation of a browser from the help system does not work under MS Windows 2000 or Mac OS X.

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Back to Bill Poser's software page.