The history of Dexter

Dexter started in 2005 when Gregory Garretson and Cathy O'Connor, then both at Boston University, noticed that there was a lack of simple-to-use and affordable tools for researchers in the language sciences and education. With Dexter, they aimed to fill that gap, promoting the detailed analysis of human language and interaction using modern technologies. They received funding from the Spencer Foundation and the National Science Foundation.

Gregory Garretson developed the tools between 2005 and 2006. Unfortunately, the funding then ran out, and the development of Dexter has been stalled at beta version for a few years. This means that while the software works, it contains known bugs and is still missing some features. Nevertheless, over the past few years, researchers in over thirty countries have used Dexter.

Now, in 2011, Gregory Garretson, currently a post-doctoral research fellow in the Department of English at Uppsala University in Sweden, is resuming development of Dexter. The development of several of Dexter’s new features is taking place as part of a research project funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (Plan Nacional de I+D+i (2008-2011), Ref: FFI2009-08336), of which Ana I. Moreno (Dpto. Filología Moderna, Universidad de León, Spain) is the Principal Investigator. Dr. Moreno's support of Dexter is gratefully acknowledged.

A new version is expected to be released by the end of 2011. Check back for it then!

For updated announcements, see the News page.

What Dexter is

Dexter is a suite of software tools that enable you to perform coding and analysis of language data in the form of written documents or transcripts of speech. It is designed to work both with user-collected data and with files from selected language corpora.

Who is Dexter for? Researchers in linguistics, education, discourse, psychology, sociology, law, or anyone else who needs to perform detailed analyses of language. Teachers who are interested in the classroom mechanics of their own courses may also find Dexter useful.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

What Dexter isn't

Dexter is not a transcription tool. Dexter operates on text files, not sound or video files. You supply the documents, and Dexter supplies tools to perform the coding and analysis. If you need a transcription tool, we can point you to some good ones that are freely available.

Dexter is also not (yet) a corpus concordancer. While it does include a powerful search tool, its specialty is working with single documents (and soon sets of documents), not large corpora. In the future, we plan to add the capability of searching many documents at once, but you will still need to convert your documents to DexML first.

For more information on the tools in the Dexter suite, see the page The tools.