I know it’s been quite a while since I’ve been around. Hopefully I’ll post more, as the semester is pretty much over and it’s time for my winter projects.
I was pretty bored working on assignments for my Database Technologies class the other day. I had also recently purchased a copy of The New Hacker’s Dictionary (the printed edition of The Jargon File) from Amazon and was reading through it. For those of you who aren’t familiar with The Jargon File, it’s the standard glossary of the wonderful terms thrown around by us geeks and hackers, as well as a source for definitions of the many words that have fallen out of favor… well… when people stopped logging in to mainframes to write their thesi. It’s currently at version 4.4.7 and is painstakingly maintained by ESR.
Anyway, I happened to be randomly flipping around the book, and landed on the entry for zeroth on page 501, which made reference to fencepost errors on page 187. What a pain to find! So, I stopped by the listing of alternate views of the Jargon File… but found all of the ones marked as searchable to be gone. So…
Over the course of a few days (I guess it’s an example of how time can be made – I did this during the final week of the semester, exams and all, and finished all of my classes as well as this project) I downloaded the DocBook XML, wrote a few scripts to parse it out and put it in a MySQL database (complete with cross-references, indexes, and (hopefully soon) full-text searching).Then, I added a simple web interface allowing various types of searches and listings.
Though the project was done more to occupy myself and get a little more experience with PHP parsing XML and doing full-text searches, hopefully I’ll have the time to finish it up – there are still a few minor bugs (the parsing lost some of the formatting of ASCII art… I think there’s a
trim() that got stuck in there somewhere) and I’d like to implement full-text searching of definitions, overall it was a fun project, given that I did it in about 4 days while working and finishing up school.
If you’re looking for a searchable, cross-referenced version of the Jargon File online (complete with revision history and comments), take a look at The Jargon File on JasonAntman.com. There’s a search function, listing by first letter, one-page listing of all entries, and hopefully a few other goodies soon. Most importantly, though the documentation is sparse right now, the scripts used to parse the XML, cleanup the database and display/search everything are available for anyone who wants them.