pressagio: A predictive text system in Python

Pressagio is a predictive text library that I am currently working on. It is written in Python and I started this project as a pure Python port of the amazing presage library. The original idea was to implement text prediction on mobile phones for under-resourced languages like Bavarian or Sorbian, but pressagio could of course be used for any language for which some corpus is available. You can try out an online demo of the text prediction on the Poio website.

Here is a short introduction how to build an n-gram model for a language that you want to support via pressagio. First, you have to prepare some text file that contains raw text, without markup or any other content. A good example is the output of the Wikipedia to GrAF conversion that I described a few weeks ago. The GrAF package contains a .txt file that we will use for the tutorial in this post.

Build the n-gram model

We will build and store an n-gram model to allow text prediction for Bavarian. A sqlite database will store the model, so that you do not need any other database system on your computer. Python supports sqlite out-of-the-box. Besides sqlite, pressagio also support postgres as a store for the n-gram models. To create the model for a single cardinality (e.g. unigram or bigrams), the pressagio library contains a text2ngram script in the scripts folder of the source distribution. This script supports several command line options, for example to set the cardinality of the model and the output file. You can get a list of all options by passing --help to the script:

h:\ProjectsWin\git-github\pressagio\scripts>c:\Python33\python.exe text2ngram --help
Usage: text2ngram [options] file1 file2 ...

  --version             show program's version number and exit
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -n NGRAM, --ngram=NGRAM
                        Specify ngram cardinality N
  -l LOWERCASE, --lowercase=LOWERCASE
                        Enable lowercase conversion mode
  -a APPEND, --append=APPEND
                        Enable append mode for database
  -o OUTFILE, --output=OUTFILE
                        Output file name O

We will generate a model for unigrams, bigrams and trigrams, as this is what we need for the text prediction. In addition to the -n option we will also pass a filename for sqlite database (-o bar.sqlite) and the path to the text file with the Wikipedia articles (barwiki-20131030.txt). We have to call text2ngram three times, once for each cardinality. For the unigrams we use:

h:\ProjectsWin\git-github\pressagio\scripts>c:\Python33\python.exe text2ngram -n 1 -o bar.sqlite barwiki-20131030.txt
Parsing barwiki-20131030.txt...
Writing result to bar.sqlite...

Then the bigrams:

h:\ProjectsWin\git-github\pressagio\scripts>c:\Python33\python.exe text2ngram -n 2 -o bar.sqlite barwiki-20131030.txt
Parsing barwiki-20131030.txt...
Writing result to bar.sqlite...

And finally the trigrams:

h:\ProjectsWin\git-github\pressagio\scripts>c:\Python33\python.exe text2ngram -n 3 -o bar.sqlite barwiki-20131030.txt
Parsing barwiki-20131030.txt...
Writing result to bar.sqlite...

The result of the three steps will be a sqlite database with three tables _1_gram, _2_gram and _3_gram. Those will contain the counts for each n-gram of the Wikipedia corpus.

Use pressagio to suggest completions

Based on this information pressagio can now calculate the most likely completions for any Bavarian string. The whole process is controlled via a configuration file that points to the database file and contains several option for smoothing, the number of suggestions etc. You can find an example config file in the scripts folder. The same folder also contains an example script for prediction that makes use of this config file. This example assumes that there is a file bar.sqlite in the same folder as the prediction script and the config file.

The script first imports the configparser module. We emebed the import in a try block in order to support both Python 2 and 3, as the name of the module changed between the two versions:

import pressagio.callback
import pressagio

Next, we define a sub-class of pressagio.callback.Callback, which is used to pass the input string to the predictor. In a real-world setting this callback is called by the text predictor and has to return the strings before and after the cursor. For simplicity we assume that there is no text after the cursor:

class DemoCallback(pressagio.callback.Callback):
    def __init__(self, buffer):
        self.buffer = buffer

    def past_stream(self):
        return self.buffer

    def future_stream(self):
        return ''

We can now open and parse the config file:

config_file = "example_profile.ini"

config = configparser.ConfigParser()

With the parsed configuration and the callback we can create a Pressagio object:

callback = DemoCallback("Des is a Te")
prsgio = pressagio.Pressagio(callback, config)

The object has a method predict() that will return a list of the suggestions calculated from the n-gram model:

predictions = prsgio.predict()

That’s it! Feel free to try this out with any corpus you have, and don’t forget to try our online demo at the Poio website:

Poio is completely open source, the data we use is from Wikipedia and is completely free for download on the Poio website.

About me

My name is Peter Bouda and I am a software developer with more than 20 years of professional experience in application development. I help you to bring your application to market as quickly as possible.

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