The Lucid Translator allows for exchange of data between Lucid and DELTA ® (DEscription Language for TAxonomy).

Lucid Translator


The Lucid Translator can translate DELTA-format data into files of Lucid Interchange Form (LIF), which can then be imported into the Lucid Builder for manipulating.


Note: This program only runs on Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP/VISTA

The Lucid Translator can also translate LIF files (exported data from the Lucid Builder) into DELTA format.

Only the basic data can be exchanged between the two programs: further work is required to reconstruct the information fully.

The Lucid Translator can be downloaded for free once you have logged in and registered your Lucid product.

DELTA is a registered trademark of CSIRO.

Notes for DELTA users

The DELTA (Descriptive Language for Taxonomy) package has, for many years, been the principal tool for builders of interactive keys. In DELTA, taxon-state data are encoded in a text file, with one coding block (‘item’) for each taxon. Each item is basically a shorthand description of the taxon, using character and state numbers instead of verbose strings. The structure of the data reflects the principal use of DELTA as a way of encoding natural-language taxonomic descriptions.

Once encoded, DELTA data may be translated into a format suitable for a number of subsidiary programs, one of which is the INTKEY interactive key module. Translation into INTKEY format involves restructuring of the data into a matrix of taxa by character states and loss of some data (nested comments, distinction between normal and outside ranges for numeric data, and distinction between ‘or’ and ’and’ links between states). Once in INTKEY, users may identify a specimen by interrogating the underlying data matrix to find all taxa that match a given combination of character states.

Lucid handles data somewhat differently from DELTA. If you have used DELTA in the past, understanding these differences is important if you are to make the most of Lucid.

The principal differences between Lucid and DELTA are:

  • Lucid stores its taxon-state data directly in a data matrix, while DELTA stores it as a shorthand description then translates it to a matrix.
  • Lucid uses the distinction between outside and normal numeric ranges, while DELTA strips this out during its TOINT translation.
  • Lucid stores richer taxon-state data than DELTA: in particular, Lucid is able to store whether a state is common or rare in a taxon, and ‘truly present’ or ‘present by misinterpretation’.
  • Lucid can encode uncertainty for a state, while in DELTA uncertainty can only be encoded for a character.
  • DELTA keys tend to be ‘flat’ structures, while Lucid lends itself also to hierarchically structured keys

If you have used DELTA extensively, you may not be used to encoding rare versus common states, allowing for user misinterpretation of states by encoding states as ‘present by misinterpretation’, being able to code one state of a character as uncertain, or considering the relative merits of flat versus hierarchical keys. It’s worthwhile paying particular attention to these possibilities as you start using Lucid. For more information, see Best practice in building Lucid keys.

Included with Lucid is the Lucid Translation Wizard. The Lucid Translation Wizard is a program that can translate DELTATM data files into Lucid files and vice versa. Use it if you have data in the DELTA format and want to import these data into the Lucid system, or data in the Lucid Builder and want to translate to DELTA format. Note that only core data - the character and taxon lists and the score matrix - are translated. Character sets, dependencies, attached information and multimedia files and so on will not be translated. Embedded comments (delimited by <>) in the DELTA items file will be stripped out, and characters of type TEXT will be ignored. The Wizard will take you through the steps for a translation: For DELTA to Lucid translation, first specify the location and names of the appropriate DELTA files. The Translator works with separate Characters Items and Specification files and these must be in the same directory. Next, specify a name for the Lucid Interchange Format (LIF) file that will be produced by the Translator, then click the Translate button. The LIF file produced by the Translator can then be imported into the Lucid Builder (open a new, blank Builder file and choose Import LIF Data File on the File menu). For Lucid to DELTA translation, first export a LIF file from the Lucid Builder (choose Export LIF Data File on the File menu). Open the Translator and select the appropriate LIF file. Next, specify a directory and names for the DELTA Characters Items and Specifications files, then click the Translate button.

The Translation Wizard has been checked on numerous DELTA files, and should work on any data set that passes CONFOR CHECK, with the exception of ones that have been passed through an early version of CONFOR TIDY and as a result have numbered lines. However, you should carefully check the data produced by the translation for errors.

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