Introducing the WCCLP Dictionary Platform
Dev Mukherjee on March 28, 2023 in Product
Illustrated by Joel Harrison
WCC Language Program are based at the Wiradjuri Study Centre in Condobolin, operating as a language centre supported through the Australian Government's Indigenous Languages and Arts program. They produce digital/physical learning resources and initiatives working towards the goal of strong, supported and flourishing Indigenous languages and culture.
Over the last few years Anomaly has been working with them to produce impactful digital resources to assist with the language research and to make the resources available on digital devices through a multitude of experiences.
WCCLP were looking to partner with a technology company that could assist with rebuilding the Dictionary resources made available on iOS, Android and the Web for a number of language groups. These apps are used in classroom scenarios and serve as a digital resource for the communities.
We are pleased to announce that the first of these was released recently — the much needed technology update to their digital Dictionaries.
These languages are traditionally spoken and not written, these app feature carefully curated textual, audio and video content that document these languages. Versions of the dictionary content is published as language researchers finishing documenting, recording audio and video content. This is a tedious process, with significant culturally sensitive considerations.
The team at Anomaly zoomed out on the requirements and saw the opportunity to develop an engine that all language could reuse, making the technology available to any language group that works with WCCLP.
The result was DictionaryKit for the web, iOS and Android. It's a framework that fundamentally offers:
- Synchronisation - allowing the apps to update the content as it's published at the central source of truth, without the need for updating the app and the ability to cache audio and images for offline use.
- Native Interfaces - providing a true native experience for each operating platform, focused on accessibility and usability. The interfaces feature powerful search, integration with content published on Vimeo, and the ability to personalise the experience.
The framework has allowed us to migrate all digital versions of all dictionaries that WCCLP manage within a matter of days, a process that would otherwise take months of effort. This compounding nature of the technology will allow the communities to publish their dictionary to all three platforms without any duplication of technology.
Each language group has extensive audio content that the user can listen to as they explore their way through the interfaces. While developing DictionaryKit, it became abundantly obvious that twe needed to deeply integrate with the iOS and Android Media frameworks and turn the apps into a Media source.
The resulting experience allows the user to cycle through the dictionary audio while they are out there going for a walk or driving to work.
The deep OS integration allows the users to control the audio experience from their device's lock screen, complete with the artwork displayed as the album cover. A mini player docks in the app interface, so you can continue to browse the content of the dictionary while continuing to listen to the words.
For Apple platforms we feature Apple Watch integration, allowing users to control the Media Player from their watch.
WCCLP wanted to build a "Word of the Day" feature, where a word is highlighted to the user each day, as a reinforcing prompt. Initially the team was leaning towards the use of push notifications (which is now largely abused on mobile platforms) or an in-app interface.
We wanted to be mindful of the users attention and build something that didn't add to the problem of digital attention grabbing. The team turned their attention to Widgets, something that has been available on Android for a very long time and came to the Apple platforms in iOS14.
The result is a Word of the Day widget you can place wherever the respective operating systems allow and gently highlight a word from a carefully curated set.
If you have multiple language apps installed, mix and match a set of widgets to create your own experience right on your device's home screen.
Apple Silicon for the win
Our iOS team took extra care to ensure the widest reach on Apple platforms. This meant supporting as many device orientations and sizes as possible. We ensure a first class iPad OS experience, an accidental result of which (thanks to Apple Silicon) is that the apps are natively available for all Macs running Apple Silicon.
As we migrate the remainder of dictionaries to the new technology, there's a large set of apps that we have built for WCCLP waiting to be released into the wild.
We're working closely with WCCLP to bring these to you as soon as practicable. The team at Anomaly is extremely proud of the work that we have done with WCCLP. Our special thanks to Joel Harrison, Project Support Officer at Wiradjuri Condobolin Corporation for the opportunity to collaborate on these wonderful projects.
Anomaly hopes that the communities enjoy these digital resources and that they assist with continued preservation of their culture.
Our web site has a dedicated page that celebrates in detail all the projects we've built for WCCLP. Please check it out and learn about the technological richness of these projects, and while you're there grab a copy of the apps and explore these languages.