Program Overview 

URICA! II was collation tool for microcomputers, and an updated version of URICA! (User Response Interactive Collation Assistant) (Hilton 139.) This update was released in 1992 by Michael Hilton and his team (139).

At the time of URICA! II's release, URICA! was installed at 35 registered sites (139). While URICA! ran on IBM and PC-compatible computers under DOS, URICA! II was developed for Macintosh to take advantage of the streamlined interface possible with its GUI and mouse (139). Rather than running in DOS, URICA! II was launched from its icon the Macintosh desktop (Hilton 140). Its interface integrated pull-down menus with options "to begin a new collation, resume an old collation, define a variant category list, or conflate several variant files. Several other options, such as the viewing and printing of files...are included in the program" (140). Hilton found that the mouse interface was more efficient at resolving variables than URICA!'s reliance on the keyboard's function keys (Hilton 141).

URICA! II built directly on URICA!, which sought to address the drawbacks of the computer collation systems available at the time:

URICA!'s primary goal is to give scholars an interactive system for text collation that is carried out as texts are being read into the computer. As a result, the system is more flexible than others that have been available previously. Run on large batch computer systems, previous approaches had to invoke the operating system, entering two file names, and wait for the collation results. In cases where two texts were greatly different, these computer programs often got lost trying to resolve complicated variants and were incapable of proceeding without human intervention. The scholar had to determine the point of resumption and start the system once more. (Cannon and Oakman 470)

URICA! was developed by Robert Cannon and Robert Oakman to identify variants between two texts by comparing a text provided by the user to a machine-readable master text (Cannon and Oakman 469). The text for comparison could be loaded from a file or typed directly into URICA!'s interface, and the tool output a third file detailing the variants, the classifications applied to each variant, and where they occurred in the text (469). According to Cannon and Oakman, URICA! was developed to assist Father Romauld Green of St. Bonaventure University in creating a scholarly edition of Duns Scotus:

Father Green had only one printed text of Duns Scotus, which had been optically scanned; the other ten significant texts were Latin manuscripts that had to be keyed into the machine manually. Green wanted a program to allow him to do his collations and store his variants interactively as he was preparing his texts at a keyboard of a micro- computer. As a result of his query, students and faculty in Computer Science at South Carolina set to work to produce a collation scheme to fit Green's problem: URICA! -- User Response Interactive Collation Assistant. (469)

Cannon and Oakman found that interacting directly with the computer to resolve variants was faster and more convenient for scholars (Cannon and Oakman 470). URICA!'s development began in 1984 using Turbo Pascal, then a popular choice for developing software for IBM and compatible personal computers (470). They chose Pascal and to target microcomputers in part because in 1984, microcomputers were the least expensive choice, and "many academic departments and individuals in the humanities have already invested in such computers" (470). In addition, Pascal supported their aim to present master and comparison texts in separate windows, so that users could see both at once as URICA! compared them (470). Microcomputers also permitted users to distribute files between disparate machines, including transferring machine-readable texts stored on tape to mainframes and then to a microcomputer with URICA! installed (470). The master text was stored on a diskette, and users could either enter the comparison text via keyboard or access it from a second diskette (470).

URICA! II improved on its predecessor by semi-automating the process of collating texts (Hilton 139). It automatically resolved short variants up to approximately five words in length, and prompted users to resolve longer variants as the program found them (139). According to Hilton, "[t]he computer provides fast and accurate manipulation of large quantities of text, and the human makes judgments regarding complex differences in the texts. The computer locates the start of a variant, and the human locates its end" (Hilton 140). Unlike URICA!, which restricted users to three preset categories -- insertion, deletion and replacement  (Cannon and Oakman 469) -- URICA! II enabled users to define their own categories and have the program tag variants as belonging to them automatically (Hilton 139).

Unlike Collate, which was designed for use with medieval texts with a high degree of variability, "URICA! II was designed primarily for use with modern literary texts where typographic and orthographic concerns are minimal. The result is a tool which is simple, easy to use, and sufficient for most collation tasks" (Hilton 143). URICA! II did not contain direct features for handling alternate spellings or markup, as Collate did, but it could simulate them by creating categories for instances such as Middle English's variant word forms and using a filter to normalize variants marked as alternative spellings (143). URICA! II treated markup as text, and when a marked up text was compared to a version without markup, it could categorize markup as a variant (143).

As a whole, URICA II improved on URICA! with an intuitive interface that made collation quick and efficient, enabling users to focus on analyzing the text rather than collecting variants (Hilton 144).

Last Update 
Dec 31, 2014
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This document is retrieved from the Internet archive.