Archive for the ‘News’ Category

WALS 2013

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

What’s new?

  • Updated data;
  • better integration of sources;
  • the web application is now based on the clld framework developed within the CLLD project.

What’s gone?

Probably the biggest feature no longer available in WALS Online is the functionality to combine two features on a map. The new framework WALS is built upon has a more general database model, in particular it allows for multiple values a language can have for the same feature. With this model, feature combinations are not as straight forward as was the case before.

But being implemented on top of clld does also mean that it’s a lot easier to access WALS data programmatically. So you can use map making software like Tilemill to combine data from multiple features (not only from WALS) on one map as explained here.

Previous edition of online WALS

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

The previous edition of the online WALS, the 2008 edition, is available at

WALS 2011

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Over the next couple of days we will push WALS 2011 – the new edition of WALS Online – live! While this should mean more chapters, more data and a better user experience in general, we also expect a transition period with a couple of glitches and hiccups while we reassemble the pieces of the web application. Should you encounter any of these, let us know!

Once this transition period is over, we will detail the changes in a separate post.

Commentary Function Fixed

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

As we have only learnt recently, the commentary function for WALS online was broken. Comments did not get published, but were falsely
marked as spam instead. This has been fixed.

We apologize for the inconvenience, please contact us should you encounter further problems.

Scheduled Server Downtime

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Due to maintenance work, WALS Online will be down on 12 January 2011, from 8am CET (expected duration: < 8h).

We apologize for any inconvenience.

OpenSearch for WALS Languages

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

A frequent visitor to WALS Online suggested a new feature: It would be useful if the WALS language search was available as FireFox search plugin – i.e. if you type language names into your browser’s search box and go to WALS Online for the search results.

The way this can be achieved is via OpenSearch, a standard that lets websites communicate their search capabilities to browsers (or other search clients).

You can install the WALS Language Search plugin in FireFox by visiting the WALS website and then clicking on the small arrow next to your browser’s search box. This will open a dropdown list looking like this:

Select Add “Search a Language in WALS” to install the plugin.

WALS Online indexed in OLAC

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Recently we got around to making some of the data in WALS Online available via OAI-PMH. This was done mainly to allow harvesting by OLAC.

For more details about the data we exposed, visit the archive descriptions on OLAC for

WALS Online unreachable

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Due to a network outage at the Wissenschaftspark Potsdam-Golm where our server is hosted WALS Online could not be reached today, July 10, from around 2:30pm until 6pm GMT.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

DOIs for WALS references

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

We try to embed WALS as well as possible in the web. So after adding links to Google Books where appropriate, we had a look at DOIs. Using crossref’s nice OpenURL interface, we managed to find DOIs for 284 of the 780 articles cited in WALS Online.

It should be noted, though, that DOIs do not always point to Open Access content; it is also not generally possible, to link to particular pages of articles accessible via DOI. So we decided to only add the DOI links to the reference database pages and not to individual citations within WALS as we did with the Google Books links.

For an example of the new links, go to the record Agnew and Pike 1957.

Links to Google Books

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

We recently found out that Google Books does already cover quite a few of the books cited in WALS; more precisely, almost 10% of all references cited in WALS are available with previews in Google Books.

So we decided to have a try linking where possible:

  • From the language lists on feature pages:

  • From the lists of feature values on language pages:

  • From info bubbles on maps:

But since discovering the links was done automatically, there will be errors. So if you find references which are available on Google Books but not linked, or links to the wrong book, let us know.