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Cognatrix is a native Mac OS X (“Cocoa/Aqua”) application for thesaurus construction.
Related in nature, character or function
A situation within which something else originates, develops or is contained
A computer application for originating, developing and containing monolingual thesauri [Invented: cogna-, cognate + trix, matrix]
Cognatrix is a “universal binary” and runs on Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) and later. It is installed via simple drag-and-drop straight into your Applications folder. Cognatrix is fully self-contained and does not depend upon any database packages or third-party applications. Cognatrix includes multi-lingual capabilities that enable you to define equivalence relationshhips between concepts expressed in various languages.

Cognatrix provides two views of your thesaurus:
Tree View

Tree view shows the hierarchical arrangement of your thesaurus tree. You rearrange the items in your tree via drag and drop. There is no limit on the depth of your taxonomic hierarchy.

Wherever possible, Cognatrix tries to avoid opening windows and dialogs. For example, you edit item names in the Type/Name column and user-defined fields in the editing area of the main document window.

Cognatrix uses Cocoa's multi-document architecture. This means that you can have multiple thesaurus documents open simultaneously and drag and drop (or copy and paste) between them.

Cognatrix also supports drag & drop (or copy & paste) from a text-editor or spreadsheet. You probably started collecting terms and definitions before you went looking for a suitable application. All you need to do is to drag the information into Cognatrix and you can start arranging your hierarchy immediately.

Tree and list view are locked together. Any items selected in tree view are automatically selected when you switch to list view, and vice versa.

List View

List view shows a sorted view of all of the terms in your thesaurus. You just click on the title of a column to sort the terms by that column. Columns include:
  • The term's type (preferred term, variant term, etc);
  • The term's name, plus the name of its immediate parent in the hierarchy (to provide limited context);
  • Whether the term is published (will be included in generated HTML etc);
  • Whether the term is marked (marking allows the user to identify arbitrary sets of terms temporarily);
  • Whether there are any duplicate names and, if so, how many;
  • Matching attributes; and
  • Datestamps and usernames describing when the term was created and last changed, and who did the work, and when it is sheduled for review.
You can also restrict what you see in list view by filtering. You can filter by type and/or the content of most columns. Wildcard matching is implicit.

You can edit items and form relationships in either view. About the only exception is that you can't rearrange items in the hierarchy while in List View.

Any terms selected in list view are automatically selected when you switch to tree view. This makes it easy to work in list view but to quickly see the full hierarchical context when necessary.
Cognatrix uses the word item to describe the things that can be stored in your thesaurus. Items include:
Both preferred and variant terms. Cognatrix automatically identifies top terms and orphan terms. You can change a preferred term into a variant term (and vice versa) just by clicking a check-box.
Facets (also called node labels) provide automatic qualifiers for their child terms.
attribute lists & attributes
A thesaurus is already a controlled vocabulary. Attributes implement a second layer of controlled vocabularies within your thesaurus. You can think of them like user-defined pick lists. See below under Membership Relationships for an example of how you might use attributes.
Groups are generalized containers which allow you to impose additional structure on your hierarchy in a way that is transparent to your end-users. Groups can fulfill a number of conceptual roles including container, folder, place-holder, bucket, and so on.
You can have an unlimited number of items in your thesaurus (the education version is limited to 500 terms).

Item names can contain any character that you can enter on your keyboard, including Unicode® characters. There is no limit on the length of an item's name. Cognatrix does not prevent duplicate names but does mark duplicates for you to review.

Items can be published or concealed. Among other things, this enables you to separate the process of adding items to your thesaurus from publishing those items.
Multilingual Capabilities
defining languages

Cognatrix ships with 20 language codes defined (those for the European Union). New languages can be added, deleted or edited using the Languages... command in the File menu. Each language definition includes a code of up to 20 characters (typically a two- or three-character ISO language code but can be longer for specialized applications), a language name and a native language name. The code and language name are typically expressed in English whereas the native language name is typically expressed in the script of the language. There is, however, no need to conform to this approach as all fields are completely customisable. There is no limit on the number of languages that may be defined.

edit languages

(see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ISO_639-2_codes)

language codes

Each item can now have a language associated with it. Language codes are selected via popup menu in either Tree or List view. List view can also be sorted by language.

select language

language-equivalence relationships

Four new relationship types are defined: Exact Equivalence, Inexact Equivalence, Broader Equivalence and Narrower Equivalence. Any time two terms (preferred or variant) have different language codes, they are candidates for forming relationships of these types. Relationship types of Multiple Equivalence and No Equivalence are implicit. The former occur when a term participates in multiple language-equivalent relationships and the latter when a term does not participate in any language-equivalent relationships. There is no limit on the number of language-equivalent relationships that a term may be involved in.

relationships popup

inspector window

Language-equivalent relationships appear in the inspector window and in printouts of thesaurus items.

inspector window

XML export

Cognatrix XML now includes the “xml:lang=” attribute to describe each item’s language code. Zthes XML makes use of the <language> tag for the same purpose. XML generated in MultiTes format does not currently include language support. All thesaurus data containing Unicode is properly encoded to parse correctly in XML.

HTML export

Three new substitution keys have been defined: QIDLanguageCode, QIDLanguageName and QIDLanguageNativeName to support the display of language information in generated pages. All thesaurus data containing Unicode is properly encoded to render correctly in HTML.

Cognatrix DTD 1.3

The new relationship types imply changes to the DTD which has now been updated to version 1.3.

You can have as many relationships as you need. Cognatrix supports the following kinds of relationships between terms:

Both implicit and explicit relationships are supported:
  • Implicit relationships occur automatically, when one term is a child of the other in the visual hierarchy.
  • Explicit broader/narrower relationship are created by the user. This is how poly-hierarchical relationships are supported.
Related Term

An explicit (user-created) relationship between two preferred terms.

Use/Use For

An explicit relationship between a preferred term and a variant term.

Synonym and Obsoletes

A sub-category of a Use/Use For relationship carrying the additional information that the variant term is either considered to be a synonym of, or has been obsoleted (superseded) by, its related preferred term.

Exact Equivalence (multilingual)

where two terms have identical meanings in both the source and target languages (identical concept sets).

Inexact Equivalence (multilingual)

Used where the source and target language terms do not have exactly the same meaning but express the same general concept (overlapping concept sets).

Broader Equivalence (multilingual)

Used where the translation is close but implies a slightly broader meaning (superset/subset relationship between concept sets).

Narrower Equivalence (multilingual)

Used where the translation is close but implies a slightly narrower meaning (subset/superset relationship between concept sets).


Membership relationships occur between terms and attributes. For example, suppose that you want associate your terms with a concept like audience. To do this:
  • create an attribute list called audience;
  • within the list, create one attribute for each possible party of interest, such as sales, marketing and engineering; then
  • establish relationships between your terms and the attributes representing their party of interest.
Note that terms can have multiple attributes. A term that is used by both sales and marketing would be attached to both attributes.
To find the terms that are related to a given attribute...
Select the attribute. All of the associated terms will be shown in the relationships list.
To find the attributes that have been attached to a given term...
Select the term and all its relationships will be shown in the relationships list, including its attributes.
The Match column in list view takes this concept further. In conjunction with the attributes drawer, it allows you to quickly find the items associated with an arbitrary set of attributes. You might, for example, need to find all of the items in which marketing has an interest and which are also acronyms or initialisms.

You can have as many attribute groups, containing as many attributes, related to as many terms as you need.
User-defined Fields
Cognatrix supports an unlimited number of user-defined text fields. The only limit on the size of a user-defined text field is that imposed by Mac OS X: two gigabytes. User-defined fields can contain any character that you can enter on your keyboard, including Unicode® characters.

The default user-defined fields are Authority, Definition and Scope Note but you can remove those and/or add as many other fields as you need. User-defined fields can be published or concealed, which gives you the ability to attach private information to your items.

User-defined fields can also contain active URLs. The URLs are live both in Cognatrix (so that you can test them) and in the HTML that you generate. Active URLs are a convenient way of embedding references to things like copyright statements and source information into your terms.
Undo & Redo
Cognatrix supports unlimited levels of undo for all operations affecting the items in your thesaurus, so you can reverse your tracks all the way back to the last save.
Competing thesaurus-construction applications typically store thesaurus information in SQL databases:
  • In many organisations, the need for a database can mean that you become reliant upon your information systems support staff to manage the database for you (set-up, backup, restore, repair).
  • Unless the design explicitly supports multiple thesauri, you may be locked into using a single thesaurus with little or no capability for experimentation.
  • The complexity of the database structures can mean that post-processing or otherwise reusing the raw thesaurus data is problematic.
Cognatrix takes a different approach. It stores all information about thesaurus terms and their relationships in Property Lists. Property lists are nothing more than XML files that conform with Apple's Property List DTD. The benefits of storing thesaurus information in XML files include:
  • XML files are open (as in non-proprietary) and cross-platform. They are just plain ordinary text. They can be stored anywhere on your local hard disk or on a server, copied to a floppy or “thumb” drive, burned to a CD, compressed, emailed (and probably even stapled, nailed, spindled and punched).
  • Each Cognatrix XML file is fully self-contained. When you copy, burn, compress or email a Cognatrix file, you know that you have the entire thesaurus structure.
  • You, the user, will have complete freedom to use any XML-aware application to post-process your thesaurus records in any way necessary. Because XML is inherently cross-platform, that means Linux- and Windows-based applications too.
Although Cognatrix stores all thesaurus data in XML files, those files contain a lot more information that you will usually need for downstream processing. Moreover, the property lists store the data in its hierarchical form, so unless the downstream processor actually needs to work with the full hierarchy, rather than just the terms, parsing the property list would be overkill. With these kinds of issues in mind, Cognatrix can also generate the following file types:
  • XML conforming with the Cognatrix DTD. Contains all terms but in a flattened form where the emphasis is on ease-of-parsing (it is still possible to infer the hierarchy from the embedded idref attributes).
  • XML conforming with the Zthes DTD. Similar to the above but carries only a subset of the information. Zthes is a standard interchange format for thesaurus information.
  • XML in MultiTes format (see note).
  • HTML. Generates one HTML file per term plus indexes. Ready for publishing on a web site. You can easily edit the supplied templates so that the HTML adopts your own look and feel.
  • Binary Property List. Contains exactly the same information as an XML Property List but in a far more compact form. May be useful for large thesaurus trees if storage space is an issue (eg copying to a low-capacity drive).
Cognatrix can also import data from XML sources in a variety of formats. See CognatrixImporter for more information.
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US$499.00 (single user)
US$149.00 (education)