Dec 27, 2016

Free shareable, searchable glossaries for collaboration with anyone

Some years ago I suggested a procedure using Google spreadsheets for glossary collaboration in projects. Many people do this sort of thing now.

What I do not think most are doing, however, is accessing these web-based term lists efficiently as terminology resources in their work. It's hard to compete with the efficiency of integrated termbases, TMs, web search features, etc.

... unless of course you integrate a web search for those online spreadsheets which returns just the few data of interest.

Matches found for German "ladepresse" in a glossary of a few thousand hunting terms
This is fairly straightforward using Google's visualization API with a simple query. A parameterized URL can be built to perform custom searches of your own data or data shared by colleagues or clients. "Canned" queries can be easily incorporated in custom searches from many tools, including memoQ Web Search, IntelliWebSearch and others.

Building a custom search URL for your Google spreadsheet is fairly simple. In the example above it consists of three parts:

{base URL of the spreadsheet} + /gviz/tq?tqx=out:html&tq= + {query}

The red bit invokes the Google visualization API and specifies that the query results be returned as HTML (for display in a browser). The query language is similar to SQL, but if you use a prepared query for a given spreadsheet table structure, you don't need to learn any of that. Queries can be made which also return definitions, images, context examples or anything else that might reside in columns of interest in the online spreadsheet.

Using a tool like IntelliWebSearch or integrated extensions of OmegaT, memoQ and other tools, users working with any sort of tools can share a live glossary. Google Spreadsheets also have some permissions/security features which can be investigated if needed.

Of course other data can be shared this way, including TMs or XLIFF data as well as monolingual information. A little study of the relevant Google documentation reveals many possibilities :-)


  1. Thanks, I'll use it for my own (M)SDS acronyms list. If only Kilgray fixed webSearch memory leak...

    1. I wish! That memory leak has been driving me batshit for ages.

  2. An example of OmegaT's External Finder plugin using your example query:

    More about External Finder:

    1. This is how it looks like in OmegaT when implemented: Search results are displayed in the user's default Web browser.

  3. hello Kevin - very interesting! Is there an easy way to export my glossary from memoQ to Google Sheets? It is in a number of languages, but I could export one language at a time if necessary

    1. Indeed it is, Anthony, to an extent you can hardly imagine. A careless button press destroyed my long version reply with details, but maybe I'll blog it with a few examples. If you know a bit of SQL you can build a nice, full-blown term app for collaboration and client review, and you can use memoQ CSV exports as the basis if you want to. It's not that hard, really, but although I have suggested this sort of thing for years, few have acted on it, because they prefer to give their cash to IT witchdoctors who will tell them how very complicated and expensive such things are. I have seen that game for over 4 decades now and I don't play it.


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