Computers like words too!

AWL in json
part of the Academic Word List (Coxhead, 2000) in formatted json

This isn’t about a micromaterial per se, but more about the data used to create micromaterials.

I was reading an excellent blog post about word lists, and wondered how many of them were accessible in formats other than excel spreadsheets. I soon found out that a lot of them were actually in pdfs (notoriously difficult to convert/extract programmatically), and some even just in html lists.

I immediately decided to go about grabbing these resources and converting them to yml and json formats. The choice to use these two formats is that for web developers, json is the preferred format (at least at time of writing) to exchange data between the server and the browser.

AWL json string
part of the AWL as a long unformatted json string…easy for computers to read, but not so easy for humans

And then in terms of providing yml, that’s a much more human-readable data format than a really long json string, so I thought I’d add that as well.

AWL in yml
part of the AWL as yml…much easier for humans to read

I particularly like that the word lists from the more specific domains (nursing, newspapers, business, engineering) are ones that I’m interested in using myself in the future…and now I’ve already got them ready to be easily used in any future applications (web/mobile/otherwise)!

A second benefit of converting all of these lists into something like json is that while the lists along with all the metadata might not be exactly equivalent, if all you need is the list of words themselves, you could easily design an application to, for example, quiz students on stress patterns, which could be repurposed to use a different set of words without rewriting any of the code for the application.

Anyway, this is just one more addition to the eventual ecosystem of micromaterials.

The data is at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s