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Site Note: A Glossary Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

13 May 2020

No one has ever complained to us that Photo Corners, despite using lots of technical terms in its editorial content, does not have a glossary. And, frankly, we haven't much missed such a thing either.

But we were discussing a fellow sufferer's problem looking up citations and a thought occurred to us. He was using a separate file for each citation, searching the file name for the right citation. He wondered if there wasn't a better way.

Readers who are new to the game might find it helpful.

We suspect there's always a better way.

In this case, the options were intimidating. But they all involved setting up some sort of database and learning new commands to enter data into the database and retrieve it.

We suggested he simply put all the citations in one file, formatted with the search key and the citation however he liked. He could use a simple regexp to find the key and retrieve the citation.

He liked that idea and ran with it, living happily ever after. But, being in the habit of taking our own advice, we implemented it in Keyboard Maestro as a macro.

Our problem, however, was divining some sort of data to search. We didn't have any citations.

But we could do a glossary of photographic terms. We might even learn something.

Just as a proof of concept, we reformatted a short glossary we found online and wrote the code. And we really liked it. Wheels spun, gears meshed. We refined it.

The format for the data was pretty simple with a hyphen on a line by itself separating the term from its description and marking the end of the description, plus a double return separating entries. Here's an extract showing two entries:

A plastic or glass lens in front or within the lens that is used to
manipulate or affect the final image. - ND Filter - A Neutral Density Filter blocks some of the light entering the
camera, allowing you to use slow shutter speeds in bright conditions
to blur motion like waterfalls. -

And the regexp -- (.?)\n\-\n(.?)\n-\n\n -- describing the format was pretty simple, too.

That's a pretty painless approach to database entry and retrieval but it works surprisingly well for a lot of snips of data.

The glossary we found, it turned out, wasn't entirely correct and a little confusing, so we started over, collecting photographic, scanning and printing terms and definitions from a number of sources and editing them into a single collection.

That took a while.

And during that while it occurred to us that it might be a useful tool for Photo Corners. Readers who are new to the game might find it helpful.

So we added a little button on the headline page to look up the terms in our glossary.

The button is a popup menu, so you can just click on it and scroll to the term you want defined.

But as there are over 130 terms in the long, long list, you might want a shortcut. If you click once on the button to set focus (its border will turn teal), you can start typing a term. If it's in there, the button will shoot you over to the definition as soon as what you type narrows the possibilities down to one.

Once there you can marvel at our Samuel Johnson-like ability to enhance the meaning of simple terms. And when you are tired of marveling, you can look for another term using the popup conveniently displayed there or use the Back button to return from whence you came.

Let us know what you find.

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