[Baypiggies] Online Dictionary/Thesaurus

Nathan Ramella nar at hush.com
Wed Feb 4 22:52:44 CET 2009

The language you use shouldn't really matter, the juice of any  
dictionary app is going to be the backend database. Since you have a  
small amount of data to contend with (OED2 is roughly about 600 megs  
compressed) it's basically down to the type of searches you want to  
do. I did something similar (and am still working on some dictionary  
stuff..), but my first iteration was a PDF search engine for ~300gb of  
PDF content.

You'd probably do very well with the following configuration:

1) Lucene backend for the search engine, it can very easily handle the  
amount of data necessary and can be fine tuned. While Lucene is  
written in Java, I can't argue with the fact that it works great and  
has a thriving developer community and there's nothing close to it in  
the Python world. You could just go with a MySQL/Oracle/etc backend,  
but what you end up having to redevelop is the trie-search algorithm  

2) Some sort of web-service overlay that speaks DICT http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DICT 
. I used mod_python + PyLucene for accessing data. Speaking DICT isn't  
necessary, but it does eliminate the need to reproduce existing work.

3) Some sort of display layer, could be anything. Good candidates are  
Django or some AJAXy thing. I went with FLEX Builder just because it  
makes sexy GUI work ridiculously easy. PyAMF speaks to FLEX nicely.

You could do it all in Python or Java or Perl.. But it's what you feel  
comfortable using that really matters.


On Feb 4, 2009, at 1:34 PM, J C wrote:

> I was would like to ask what the best programming language is to  
> develop an online dictionary/thesaurus similar to dictionary. com
> Java?
> Perl?
> Python?
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