Setting up spellchecking for VAOS 6.3

Background

VAOS 6.3 supports spellchecking. This does not use the same spellchecking engine as VA5 as that was a commercial product, and could therefore not be used in VAOS which is free software. The spellchecking interface in VAOS has, however, been made to look as much like the interface in VA5 as possible while supporting some new features.

The spellchecking system in VAOS is designed to make use of an existing spellchecking engine and to integrate that into the VAOS GUI. The VAOS developers haven't the time or experience (or, to be honest, the interest) to develop a spellchecker from scratch, much less to compile and support a range of dictionaries for all the languages the one might wish to use with VA.

We didn't want to pick just one spellchecker, integrate that into VAOS, and then possibly discover that the spellchecker we'd chosen became unsupported (or, worse, unavailable) or that a much better spellchecker had suddenly become 'flavour of the month', so the spellchecking engine is implemented as a plug-in. That is: we provide a DLL that VAOS can load to perform spellchecking, and that DLL in turn calls the external spellchecker. If we have to replace the spellchecker we can just supply a new DLL that calls the nw external spellchecker, and the rest of VAOS can remain as it is.

With VAOS 6.3 we provide just one spellchecking DLL, for GNU ASpell. This DLL is called vasp_asp.dll (for VA SPellchecker for ASPell). If/when we provide interfaces to support other spellcheckers they will also have names of the pattern vasp_*.dll, to make them easy to find and recognize.

See Setting up GNU ASpell for specific instructions on installing and configuring ASpell.

Configuring VAOS to use a Spellchecker

You have first to tell VAOS which spellchecker interface DLL to use (there is currently only one – for ASpell – but it is not selected by default as you might not have installed ASpell on your computer) and then you have to configure the interface.

All spellchecker configuration is carried out from the Tools | Options | Spell dialog.

The "Configure" button in the top right hand corner is used to select the spellchecker interface DLL that is to be used. Note that this button is disabled (greyed) while any VA message editor windows are open, and is also greyed when configuring spellchecker options for a particular folder (see below)

The spellchecker library dialog allows you to select the correct spellchecker DLL. This will be a file whose name matches the pattern vasp_*.dll, and will usually be in the main VAOS directory. The "..." button to the right of the edit control allows you to find and select the appropriate file easily. When you have selected the file you want its relative path will be shown in the "DLL Location" of the "Spellchecker library" dialog.

Note that the choice of external spellchecker must be made by each user individually. This is so that different users can choose to enable or not enable spellchecking and (if/when other spellcheckers become available for VAOS) different users can choose to use different spellcheckers.

Once the correct spellchecker interface library has been selected it can be configured. Clicking the "Configure" button on the "Spellchecker library" dialog invokes the configuration function of the interface library which allows you to see options specific to the chosen spellchecker. The dialog for ASpell looks like this:

Clicking on the "..." button brings up another dialog that allows selection of the ASpell DLL (which you must have installed previously). Note that the interface DLL doesn't know where ASpell has been installed so you will need to enter the full path or browse to the directory containing the library.

Once the correct DLL has been located the dialog will show some information about the configuration of the chosen spellchecker on your computer (different information may be shown for different spellcheckers).

Further Spellchecker Configuration

This section describes spellchecker configuration options that are common to all spellcheckers that can be integrated with VAOS.

Auto spell check after writing message

When this box is checked the spellckecker will be invoked automatically whenever the VA message editor is closed by the "OK" or "Hold" commands. Spellchecking can be skipped by holding down the Shift key on the keyboard while invoking "OK" or "Hold".

Note that the spellchecker may actually be invoked twice, once to check the subject of the message if it has been changed (i.e. the subject line is not checked for a reply unless the user edits it) and a second time to check the body of the message.

Check for repeated words

When this box is checked a spellcheck operation will also check for and report any repeated word.

case sensitive

When this box is checked the spellchecker considers the case of letters when checking spelling. It is recommended that case sensitivity is selected as checking for capitalized words depends upon it.

Ignore: Attribution line

When this box is checked the first line of a message is regarded as an attribution if it ends with a colon or a comma, and is excluded from the check. Note that long attribution lines that wrap may be misidentified.

Ignore: Signature text

When this box is checked any text after the last signature delimiter in the message is regarded as a signature and is not checked. A signature delimiter is a line containing two hyphens and a space.

Ignore: Quoted text

When this box is checked any linee of text in the message which start with a "quote character" is regarded as quoted text and is excluded from the spell check. Up to 8 characters may be specified as quote characters, but only ">" is commonly used.

Auto-correct as you type

When this box is checked VA performs an on-the-fly check as you type within the message editor. This option does not use the spellchecker (and so is available even if no external spellchecker is installed) but instead uses the autocorrect dictionary maintained by VAOS. When a word is typed that appears on the left of the colon in an autocorrect dictionary entry it is replaced by the text to the right of the colon.

Autocorrect can be used to correct simple common typing errors (such as "teh" for "the") or as a simple macro-expansion facility (perhaps replacing "vaos" by "Virtual Access Open Source" whenever it is typed).

Capitalize first letter of sentences

When this box is checked VA performs an on-the-fly check as you type within the message editor. If the first character following the end of a sentence is a letter VA will automatically convert it to upper case.

Edit AutoCorrect

Clicking on this button opend the AutoCorrect Dictionary Editor which edits VAOS's AutoCorrect dictionary. The dictionary is a text file autocorr.tlx in the main VAOS messagebase directory, and can also be edited with a simple text editor. The file has an initial line "#LID 1033 0 2" for VA5 compatibility, and the format following that is one line per entry: search text (single word), colon, replacement text (rest of line).

Advanced Options

Opens another dialog allowing various Advanced spelling options to be set.

Advanced Spelling Options

VAOS can support a number of advanced spelling options, subject to the capabilities of the spellchecker program being used. These options, if supported, can be enabled or disabled from the Advanced spelling options dialog.

Note that some options may be disabled. ASpell, for example, does not recognize hyphenated word pairs in its dictionaries, so there is little point in VA regarding such pairs as single words. The "Treat hyphens as word separators" option is therefore always selected when ASpell is used as VAOS's spellchecker, and that option is greyed in the dialog.

The options are:

Treat hyphens as word separators

When this box is checked VA regards the hyphen (minus) character as a separator when parsing text for spellchecking (so "left-hand" would be parsed as two separate words: "left" and "hand"), when it is unchecked VA regards the hyphen as part of a word (so "left-hand" would be checked as a single word).

Treat apostrophes as word separators

When this box is checked VA regards the apostrophe character as a separator when parsing text for spellchecking (so "ha'penny" would be parsed as two separate words: "ha" and "penny"), when it is unchecked VA regards the hyphen as part of a word (so "ha'penny" would be checked as a single word).

Suggest split words

When this box is checked VA will include entries in the suggestion list for misspelt words that are formed by breaking the misspelt word into shorter words, if it can be broken into words that are all in the dictionary. So the suggestion list for "ofthe" would contain the suggestion "of the".

Phonetic suggestions

Some spellcheckers can suggest alternative spellings that would "sound like" a misspelt word based on a phonetic analysis. Checking this box enables such suggestions.

Typographic suggestions

Some spellcheckers can suggest alternative spellings that based on an analysis of likely typing errors. Checking this box enables such suggestions.

Allow ad-hoc concatenation of words

When this box is checked words that are formed by running together two other words will be accepted as correctly spelt. This is to some extent the complement of the "Suggest split words" options, but the external spellchecker may impose limits on the lengths or numbers of words that can be concatenated.

Strip possessives before checking

When this box is checked VAOS will remove any final "'s" from a word before checking its spelling, so "the world's edge" would be checked as the three words "the" and "world" and "edge".

Report mixed-case words

When this box is checked VAOS will report words that have mixed case (apart from initial capitalization) as being possibly incorrectly typed. This check is made whether or not the word itself is correctly spelt.

Ignore all words with mixed case

When this box is checked VAOS will not check the spelling of any words that appear in mixed case (apart from initial capitalization). This means that words like "iPod" will not be reported as errors even though they may not be in the dictionary.

Ignore words in all UPPER case

When this box is checked VAOS will not check the spelling of any words that appear entirely in upper-case letters. This means that words like "NATO" will not be reported as errors even though they may not be in the dictionary. Note that it is also possible to instruct VAOS to ignore knows acronyms, and that this may be more useful than simply not checking upper-case words.

Ignore all words containing digits

When this box is checked VAOS will not check the spelling of any words that contain digits as well as letters. This means that words like "Algol68" will not be reported as errors even though they may not be in the dictionary.

Ignore known acronyms

When this box is checked VAOS will not report as an error any sequence of characters that appears in the VAOS acronym list file (acronyms.lst). This means that abbreviations like "ISTMT" may not be reported as errors even though they may not be in the dictionary.

Ignore URLs

When this box is checked VAOS will not report as an error any sequence of characters that appears to be a filename or internet URL. This means that abbreviations like "http://dokuwiki.virtual-access.org/doku.php" may not be reported as errors even though they will not be in the dictionary.

Note that it is not possible to recognize a filename or URL unambiguously. A string such as "red/white/blue" could be a file path but might also be descriptions of the colours of a flag, for example. It is therefore inevitable that some strings will be checked even though they are URLs or file paths while others will be excluded even though they are not.

Setting Spellchecker Options for a particular Message or Folder

When the spellchecker options dialog is invoked from Tools | Options it is used to set global default options that are stored in <user>.ini and may be used by every spellchecker instance that is created after they are set.

Note that any message editor window that is already open when the options are set will continue to to use the options that were in force when it was created.

It is also possible to set spellchecker options for a particular message editor by clicking the "Options" button of the message editor window and then clicking the "Spelling" button of the "Options" dialog. This allows some options to be set that apply to that particular message editor only. Options set in this way are not saved in <user>.ini and will not be used by any other spellcheker. Note that configuration of the external spellchecker, and contents of the AutoCorrect dictionary are not specific to a particular message, so they cannot be configured from via message options.

When a message is saved to the outbasket the spellchecker options that apply to it are saved with it ... so if you start to edit a message in Italian (say) and select the Italian spellchecker dictionary and perhaps turn off AutoCorrect for that message these options will remain in force if you later edit the message from the outbasket.

It is also possible to configure spellchecker defaults that apply to all messages edited in a prticular folder. If you select a folder (or service) in the MessageBase window and select "Spellchecker defaults" from the "Edit" menu (or the RMB context menu) you can configure a set of spellchecker defaults that will be saved (in <user>.ini) and will be used as the default settings whenever a message is composed in that folder.

As with per-message options, you cannot change the external spellchecker or edit the AutoCorrect dictionary when configuring options for a folder.

 
vaoshelp/spellsetup.txt · Last modified: 13.08.2008 14:36 by daniel
 
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