Open Dictionary Home

Open Dictionary
Dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge

Dictionary File Submission

When you submit a definition to the Open Dictionary, it is converted to the following dictionary-file format (illustrated by example):

	KEY = / Science / Physics / Superstring Theory
	URL =
	TTL = The Official String Theory Web Site
	DSC = Tutorials and pointers to resources pertaining to superstring theory.
	TYP = Home Page
	LV1 = 12
	LV2 = 100
	ONM = Name Of Submitter
	OID =
	REL = / Science / Physics / Quantum Field Theory
	REL = / Science / Physics / Quantum Mechanics

This simple, plain-text format can be submitted directly to the Open Dictionary Administrator.

Anyone can submit a dictionary file in this manner. However, definitions will be checked manually. (If inappropriate content is found, the submitting email and IP address may be recorded so that future submissions will be either carefully scrutinized or ignored.)

The above property names such as KEY, TTL, and TYP, are the three-character abbreviations for the dictionary-file property names. In long-form, the above dictionary entry looks like

       KEY = / Science / Physics / Superstring Theory
       URL =
     TITLE = The Official String Theory Web Site
DESCRIPION = Tutorials and pointers to resources pertainined to superstring theory.
      TYPE = Home Page
 MAX LEVEL = 100
   RELATED = / Science / Physics / Quantum Field Theory
   RELATED = / Science / Physics / Quantum Mechanics

The above list of properties specifies a single "definition". Any number of definitions may follow in the same format.

The KEY and URL properties must be present. All others are optional. (If not specified, your email return address will be used as the OWNER ID, and the TITLE and DESCRIPTION properties will be generated automatically from the contents of the first page at the given URL.)

See the properties info page for a full description of properties such as TYPE, MIN LEVEL, and RELATED used in the above example.

While uppercase is used for property names in the above example, case is ignored. Also, whitespace can be any length, including 0 if no confusion can result. Thus, the last line above could look like

    related=/Science/Physics/Quantum    Mechanics
(We keep at least one space in 'Quantum Mechanics' because multiword KEYs are written using spaces at the Open Dictionary, by convention.)

Note that the KEY in the above examples uses an "absolute path":

    KEY = / Science / Physics / Superstring Theory

There is also a PATH directive, which is convenient when you have many entries for the same context, e.g.,

    PATH = /Science/Physics

    KEY = Laser
    URL =

    KEY = Superstring Theory
    URL =

    KEY = Atomic Mass Unit
    URL =


When a dictionary file is submitted, any necessary subcontexts (such as "Physics" in the above example) will be created automatically for you. After your definitions are installed, you will be sent an email message notifying you of success. If any definitions were rejected, they will be included in the email along with the reason(s) for rejection. Reasons for rejection include (1) the URL did not respond, (2) the TITLE was too different from the KEY, or (3) the URL was already present for the same KEY in the same PATH. The problem may also be incorrect syntax or missing required information.

Note that each property in a dictionary file must be specified on one line with no "returns" ("newlines") in it. To prevent your email program from "wrapping" the text of your email (especially the description), specify "HTML" format as opposed to "plain text" format (which is often wrapped somewhere between column 70 and 80). Normally, wrapped email will merely produced truncated DESCRIPTIONs (lines beginning with unrecognized property names are ignored), but worse behavior is possible.

You may submit any number URLs for the same KEY. In this case, the URLs are considered to be competing definitions for the same KEY. Thus,

KEY = Superstring Theory

is equivalent to

KEY = Superstring

KEY = Superstring

Multiple URLs can be given an initial rating between 1 and 10 as follows:

KEY = Superstring Theory
RTG = 7
RTG = 5

Of course, there will be only one vote associated with each rating: yours. RATING is the long-form for RTG.

You may submit any number KEYs (separated by vertical bars ('|')) for the same URL. For example,

    KEY = World Wide Web | WWW

defines the KEY to be either "World Wide Web" or "WWW". Compound KEYs of this nature are called synonyms, and are said to form a synonym group. For further information, see the synonyms info page.


How do I update a previous submission to the Open Dictionary?

Just resubmit it. As long as your revised submission comes from the same email address, the old version will be updated.

How do I delete a previous submission to the Open Dictionary?

Presently, only one submission is supported per user. Therefore, each time you submit, any previously submitted dictionary is deleted.

How do I change the context path of a prior submission to the Open Dictionary?

Simply resubmit your dictionary with the paths corrected.

How do I change my email address at the Open Dictionary?

Submit an empty dictionary file associated with your old email address to delete your previous submissions, reregister with the Open Dictionary under your email address, and resubmit your dictionary file from your new email address.

Isn't allowing wholesale dictionary-file submission like this a little bit scary?

Well, yes and no.

I find it hard to type "". Is there a shorter version?

Yes, you can abbreviate it as or even (for now)

Advanced Techniques

Consider the following set of dictionary file entries:

    PATH = /Computing/Linux

    KEY = Database Software | Database | Oracle8i | PostgreSQL

    URL =
    TTL = Database Pointers at the Open Dictionary

    URL =
    TTL = Oracle8i
    DSC = The leading database server software in its price range.

    URL =
    TTL = PostgreSQL
    DSC = An open-source database software suite.
          The latest version is PostgreSQL 6.5.1 as of early 2000.

Note that there are three "competing definitions" for "database". The first is refers to a "virtual Web page" constructed from a search result at the Open Dictionary. It will contain all of the above definitions, as well as others in other contexts having the word "database" in any field.

The above links could alternatively have been entered as separate KEYs for each case, i.e.,

    PATH = / Computing / Linux / Database Software

    KEY = Oracle8i
    URL =

    KEY = PostgreSQL
    URL =

etc. This works too, and it makes sense that a link to a product or software package should serve as a "definition" for its name. However, definition pages at the Open Dictionary tend to be more "lively" if the KEY is chosen as the generic term, and the "competing definitions" are taken to be competing products/shareware/freeware in that generic category ("database software" in the current example). To make it work well, however, it is sometimes necessary to break a category down into various scales, such as by price range or capacity:

    PATH = / Computing / Linux / Database Software under $10,000
    PATH = / Computing / Linux / Database Software Handling up to 10,000 Records

etc. Since searches at the Open Dictionary look at TITLEs and DESCRIPTIONs, there is no loss of search generality when using the more generic KEY, as in the previous example above.

Questions? Bug report? Send email to the Open Dictionary Administrator.
The Open Dictionary is a World Wide Web of Knowledge (W3K) project.