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Issue 6.1



Mind Your Spelling

Issue: 6.1 (November/December 2007)
Author: JC Cruz
Author Bio: JC is a freelance technical writer living in British Columbia. He writes for various publications, pokes around with Cocoa and REALbasic, and spends time with his nephew. He can be reached at: anarakisware@gmail.com
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 46,305
Starting Page Number: 21
Article Number: 6111
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Excerpt of article text...

Today, we will look into the concept of a spell checker. We will learn how a spell checker works and what it takes to build one. We will then use REALbasic to design, develop, and test a basic spell check engine.

A Brief Primer on Spell Checkers

Spell checkers are software packages that verify the spelling of each word in a given document. They let users correct the misspelled word or choose from a list of close matches. Some can even do simple grammar checks as well. All spell checkers use a dictionary of words with proven spelling as their reference source. Many have multiple dictionaries, each one for a specific language or purpose.

Spell checkers came into the mainframe scene in the 1970s, about the same time as word processors. These early spell checkers are separate standalone packages. They check the document after it was written, not during. They also detect only misspellings and do not provide any corrective features. And not surprisingly, these early spell checkers support standard English spellings only. They are also unable to recognize contractions and regional spellings.

Spell checkers became an integral part of word processors around the mid-1980s. In fact, WordPerfect, and later Microsoft Word, was one of the first word processors that came with a spell check feature. Now, most software applications that deal with the written word come with a spell check feature. Even web applications such as web-mail can check a user's spelling.

Also, modern spell checkers use complex rules to deal with spelling variations. Some can recognize contractions and complex words as valid spellings. Some can ignore words that are written in uppercase or have unique characters. Some will even recognize words derived from other languages such as French or Japanese.

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