SIL International Home

Toolbox Information

Information for those considering using the Field Linguist’s Toolbox computer program

Toolbox is a data management and analysis tool for field linguists. It is especially useful for maintaining lexical data, and for parsing and interlinearizing text, but it can be used to manage virtually any kind of data.

If you have experience with the Field Linguist's Shoebox, you can think of Toolbox as an enhanced version of Shoebox with a new name. It is fully compatible with Shoebox. You can install Toolbox and use it just as you used Shoebox, with virtually no difference. Because Toolbox is an enhanced version of Shoebox, it is sometimes referred to as Shoebox/Toolbox.

Toolbox is a text-oriented database management system with added functionality designed to meet the needs of a field linguist. The underlying dbms offers full user flexibililty in the design of any type of database. But for ease of use, the Toolbox package includes prepared database definitions for a typical dictionary and text corpus.

The Toolbox database management system offers powerful functionality like customized sorting, multiple views of the same database, browse view to show data in tabular form, and filtering to show subsets of a database. It can handle any number of scripts in the same database. Each script has its own font and sorting characteristics. While Unicode is preferred, Toolbox can handle scripts in most legacy encoding systems.

Toolbox also has powerful linguistic functionality. It includes a morphological parser that can handle almost all types of morphophonemic processes. It has a word formula component that allows the linguist to describe all the possible affix patterns that occur in words. It has a user-definable interlinear text generation system which uses the morphological parser and lexicon to generate annotated text. Interlinear text can be exported in a form suitable for use in linguistic papers. Toolbox has export capabilities that can be used to produce a publishable dictionary from a dictionary database.

Although Toolbox is very powerful, it is designed to be easy to learn. The user can start with a simple standard setup and gradually add the use of more powerful features as desired. The Toolbox downloads include a training package that is usable for self-paced individual learning as well as for classroom teaching of Toolbox.

Toolbox is freeware. There is no charge for any of its components. It may be freely distributed. However, this means that we cannot promise support. Serious bugs will be fixed as soon as possible, and regular updates will be available for download.

Toolbox is in active use by a significant number of field linguists. It is being actively enhanced, and new versions will be made available at regular intervals. Bug reports and wishes are always welcome.