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PhrasIt - an open-source netspeak clone

steve göring

PhrasIt is an open source clone of netspeak.

Build PhrasIt

You only need:

  • scons
  • g++/gcc a new version which supports c++14, e.g. g++ 6.1.1
  • boost 1.68 (will be installed locally)
    • libicu-dev libbz2-dev zlib1g
  • php and a webserver (for client part)


Then you can start building phrasit with:


Scons will download all needed thirdparty libs and tools (e.g. leveldb) and build them, this process should run without errors, otherwise you should run ./ manually for error checking.

Now you can test it with a simple help screen call:

./phrasit -h
phrasit - an opensource netspeak clone

Steve Göring 2017
  -h [ --help ]           produce help message
  -d [ --storagedir ] arg storage directory, default='storage'
  -f [ --queryfile ] arg  handle queries stored in a file
  -i [ --import ]         import from stdin, format: ngram tab freq
  -s [ --server ]         start phrasit in server mode

Download all needed ngrams

For downloading of all google-books-ngrams (english) you must start:

cd datasets

and wait a long long time (the complete corpora is about 2-3TB, with my 6k dsl connection the download needed a few months!, maybe better go to university with a high speed internet connection).

You can start and stop the download, or e.g. start downloading all 2grams with

./ 2gram

After the download was successfully, you can convert the google-ngrams to the import format of phrasit with:

cd datasets
./ *.gz -s --script ./

Now you should have the following files:

└── datasets
    ├── download.list
    ├── googlebooks-eng-all-1gram-20120701-0.gz
    ├── sample
    └── transformed

In datasets/transformed/* are all transformed ngrams, you can now easily import it with:

lzcat datasets/transformed/*.lzma | ./phrasit -i

Importing all ngrams will need a lot of time and disk-space, therefore drink a coffee.

Converting to lzma

If you want to save disk-space you can transform all downloaded gz files to lzma using

cd datasets
./ *.gz -s --script ./

This process will also need a lot of time and will use all logical cpu cores.

Input Format

If you don't want to use the google-book-ngram dataset or you have an own dataset then you need to know which input format PhrasIt uses. The format is quite easy:

ngram TAB freq

Where n-gram is, e.g. "hello world", TAB is a tabulator and freq is the absolute counted frequency.

You can use e.g. Ngram Extractor to create an own dataset.

At the moment, the input format is not customizable, if your data is stored in another format you should build a convert script, that e.g. throws all ngrams in the input format out to stdout. Then you can easily build a processing pipeline like:

./myConvertScript myCoolDataset | ./phrasit -i

Web Part

If you want to run the web-service you should start PhrasIt via

./phrasit -s

And you need to copy the web directory to a http server with php. If php is not available you can build a static html version using in the web folder.

It is important that you update the configuration file config.json:

var config = {
    "server_url": ["http://localhost:8090/api"]

server_url must be your PhrasIt server with the correct port, this url must be reachable via internet, localhost will only work in a local development setup. You can add multiple servers in the array as a simplified load balancing. A server will be choosen randomly for each request.

The server can run on another host, because all request will redirected using jsonp.