Micro-OCP

Program Overview 

Micro-OCP was a microprocessor implementation of the second version of the Oxford Concordance Program (Jones 131).

Randall L. Jones regarded the OCP as an important and under-recognized contribution to the production of computer-assisted concordances (131). The original implementation of the OCP was designed and written by Ian Marriot and Susan Hockey over 1979 and 1980 (O'Brien 138). It ran on mainframe computers, mostly Digital or IBM equipment though it was designed to be machine-independent (138). As of 1986, over 200 university computer departments had purchased copies, though one of the 40 respondents to Frank O'Brien's 1984 survey of academic researchers reported that their institute could not accommodate the OCP's install requirements with the intended equipment (138).

The most commonly reported drawback was its long processing times (138). Most users felt the program was reliable with intelligent defaults, though post-purchase technical support was "poor to non-existent" despite the excellent user's manual (138). Overall, O'Brien judge the OCP to be a good investments for researchers who needed to do sophisticated analysis but for whom learning a programming language was prohibitive (O'Brien 141). It was particularly notable for integrating many of the most useful features of CLOC and COCOA (O'Brien 138).

The Micro-OCP debuted in 1987 (Jones 131). Jones described the Micro-OCP as

a general purpose program which makes indexes, concordances, and words lists from texts in a variety of languages. It is not an interactive text retrieval program, but rather it processes the data in batch mode then produces formatted output. Micro-OCP allows for excellent flexibility in the definition of the input and output formats as well as the type of index or concordance to be made. The program is completely menu-driven and requires no programming experience or technical understanding of the computer. Micro-OCP is, however, so feature laden that for even simple applications a fairly detailed orientation is required. (131)

Notably, the Micro-OCP allowed text to be formatted in fixed format, COCOA or starting string format (Jones 132). Its strength was its command language, which had commands in four categories (input, words, actions, format) that could be defined in a separate file via the provided commands construction kit and run on a text (132). Users could choose to extract only the dialogue spoken by a particular character, or extracts data from only one subset of the whole, or only process words of a particular length or starting with a particular character (Jones 133-134). The Micro-OCP was not suitable for lemmatized concordances or disambiguation -- though it was possible to use the commands to approximate it, the results suffered from accuracy problems (Jones 135).

Jones tested the Micro-OCP's processing time and found that the length of time needed to process a text is a function of the microprocessor speed and the complexity of the task to be performed. A basic word list of a simple text with most command options not chosen requires much less time than a complete concord- ance of a complex text in which several of the *WORDS and *ACTION options have been selected. To make an index of the 36KB sample Greek file (Book 1 of the Iliad) on a PS2/30 required 11.2 minutes, while a complete concord- ance required 25.5 minutes. The output for the index used 86KB of storage on the hard disk; the concordance took up 426.5KB. (Jones 135)

He praised the manual as thorough with excellent tutorials, though he found the section on the command language to be cryptic in places (135). Despite a few drawbacks, Jones declared the Micro-OCP an excellent, high quality program (135).

Last Update 
Jan 21, 2013
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This document is retrieved from the Internet archive.