In the case of some terminology collections it is crucial to determine whether there are some limitations as to the length of each field. The tools selected for analysis in this project theoretically do not impose any such limitations. However, the longer the field, the more difficult it may be to see the content of the whole field or record. Another vital aspect, especially in terms of translation work, is the number of fields for which entry is obligatory in order to create a valid record. The tools discussed here require only the term or lemma. However it is possible to define other fields for which entry is necessary in order to save the record. This operation may contribute to an increased quality of the terminology collection, even though it may significantly lengthen the process of populating the termbase.
All tools under scrutiny offer the possibility to create cross-references across the records. Most often they are created manually and can be found either within a text field or in a separate field. Unfortunately, it is not yet possible to create links to external resources within the terminological records of the tools discussed.
In addition to considering the limitations of the record field length, also the question of the record size should be answered. In none of the tools discussed is there any explicit limitation, however, it should be borne in mind that the larger the records, the slower the data retrieval process may become. It should also be remembered that creating small records enables the storage of much larger data collections in one file without hampering the functioning of the tool. Hence the size of the records should be kept close to the bare minimum in order to retain high speed of information retrieval. Again, there are no limitations to the number of terminological entries, except for hard disc size.
3.7 Retrieval of information
The principal purpose of terminology management tools is to provide quick access to terminological data. Therefore, it is important that they provide a number of efficient search options. Exact match option is very often insufficient. It is especially true for highly inflectional languages such as Polish, where a given term would have to be entered into the termbase in all cases, numbers and genders in order to be found by the tool when working with a text or when automatic term recognition is activated. Therefore, most tools also offer:
- partial match
- right truncation (omission of the final part of the term in the search string)
- wild card search (replacing an unknown character or characters with an asterisk or a question mark)
- free text search (searching all the text fields of the termbase in order to find the search string)
- fuzzy search (listing all the nearest matches to the search string)
- search via record/translation unit number
- KWIC (key word in context)
- Boolean operators (operators signifying logical connections AND, OR, NOT)
- relational operators (>, <, =, >=, <=, z')
- morphological (suffixes, prefixes, inflectional endings)
- search by synonym, cross-reference, internal/external link
- subject area
- global search
- restricted (filtered)
- by segments containing a term or phrase (if the translation memory module is active)
- capital vs. small letter
- punctuation and spacing variation
- formatting and mark-up features
- search history
- search log (file recording all search procedures within a given work session)
- browsing (alphabetical, chronological and conceptual)
- access via any data category (e.g. part of speech)
- query language, e.g. SQL
Some applications also allow for a combination of search criteria. Most of them offer the function of global search and replace. Finally, since most CAT tools are designed as language independent applications, they rarely recognize part of speech of a term, especially if the term has the same form as a noun, verb or adjective.