Import a dictionary from a ZooZL file (D)

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When you first start SooSL Desktop, you will probably see a blank screen. It will look like this:

Don't be discouraged! It just means you haven't opened a dictionary yet. You need to open a dictionary before you will see anything interesting. This help topic tells how to get your first dictionary and start using it in SooSL. (Later, you can make your own dictionary.)

What do you do first? You import a dictionary someone else has made. You will get it in a file called a ZooZL file. A ZooZL file has a .zoozl extension in its filename, like this: 


For example: "Demo (ASL) 2020-12-29 (0.9.1).zoozl"

We use ZooZL files to move SooSL dictionaries from one computer to another. A ZooZL file contains all the individual files (videos, translations, etc.) that are needed for a dictionary, all packed into a single file. This makes it easy to move.

"Importing a dictionary project" means unpacking all the individual files from inside a ZooZL file into separate files that SooSL can work with. You have to import the dictionary from a ZooZL file into SooSL before you can see what is in it.

So, to get started with SooSL, it is good to import a ZooZL file. Here's what you do.

Get a dictionary project in a ZooZL file

First, get a ZooZL file. It will contain a dictionary that someone else has made

Save the ZooZL file to some convenient place on your computersome place where you can find it again easily. 

Start SooSL

Next, start SooSL Desktop. (The way you start it is different on Windows, Mac, and Linux. See those help topics for instructions.) 

As SooSL starts, it will ask you for the name of a dictionary project to open. 

However, you can't open the ZooZL file quite yet; you have to import it first. So, it doesn't matter what project you choose to start with. If you are using SooSL for the first time, just leave the choice as "No dictionary". Click .

Import the dictionary project

After SooSL starts and you see the blank screen, you can import the dictionary. Click graphic Tools. It is in the top-right corner of the SooSL window. 

The tools menu will open. Click graphic Import dictionary

 You will see a dialog like this. 

At the top, after "Import from:", it shows the path-name of a folder (directory). (Usually it will be the "exports" folder under your user SooSL folder.) 

In the big area on the right, it shows the ZooZL files in that folder. 

To look for a ZooZL file in a different folder, start with the list of folders on the left. It includes generic locations like your desktop folder or your hard drive(s). Click a folder or drive name on the left. The "Import from:" box will change to the path-name for that folder, and on the right you will any ZooZL files in that folder. You will also see any sub-folders. To change to one of those sub-folders, double-click on it, or choose it and click . Or, you can type a folder name after "Import from:" at the top. Finally, you can also use the arrows at the top right to move around between folders. 

The names that you see on the right are actually the names of the dictionaries inside each ZooZL file, not the ZooZL file's name. The "ZooZL file:" at the bottom shows the ZooZL file's actual name. These two names are not necessarily the same, although they are often similar. Sometimes the same dictionary name appears more than once in the list on the right; this means there are different versions of the same dictionary, in separate ZooZL files. 

Also at the bottom, you can see the name of the currently selected dictionary, its version, and when it was last modified.

If you want to see more information about the different ZooZL files, including if you can change them, see detail view below.

When you find the ZooZL file you want, click the dictionary name and then click graphic. Or, just double-click the dictionary name

Next, you will normally see a new dialog that tells you the ZooZL filename and the destination directory (folder) for the dictionary after it is unpacked. (If there is already a copy of the dictionary in the destination directory, the dialog will be different. See below.)


The destination directory (folder) is the place where SooSL will unpack and store all the files for the dictionary project while you are working on it. SooSL normally unpacks dictionaries into its projects directory, but you can put them anywhere you want. 

To change the destination directory, click Destination directory. You will then see this dialog. You can use it to choose a new location where SooSL will unpack the dictionary project.

For example, you might want to store the dictionary project someplace else on your hard drive. You might want to store it in a special folder that automatically syncs a spare copy to cloud storage (Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive). You might even want it on a USB stick so you can easily work with the dictionary project on different computers. (See the help topic about working together on a dictionary project.) Choose the new destination directory, then click .

If a dictionary with the same name already exists in the destination directory, SooSL will warn you. The Import Dictionary dialog will look different that it does normally.

You have three choices:

After you make all your choices, click and you will see a progress dialog while SooSL imports (unpacks) the files. When the import is finished, you will see a small dialog:

Click to continue.

If the imported dictionary does not open immediately, click graphic Tools > graphic Open projectFind the dictionary in the folder where you imported it (the destination directory), and click .

Then you can start reading and studying the signs in the dictionary.

Detail view

When you are choosing a ZooZL file in the Import Dictionary dialog (above), if you want to see more information about the different ZooZL files, click Detail View in the top-right corner of the dialog. Detail view shows more columns of information.

Detail view shows the following information:

Opening ZooZL files from network (LAN) locations

The Import Dictionary dialog is special for SooSL, to make it easier to find and open ZooZL files. However, it doesn't give you full access to all files on your computer or on your local network (LAN). To import a dictionary from another computer across a local area network, see this topic.

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