When After the Deadline was first released for Firefox in the beginning of February, I thought it looked interesting. So I installed the Extension to see how it would hold up to day-to-day use. In the 3 weeks that have followed it’s become integrated with my day-to-day work flow. I even find myself taking chunks of text from desktop applications and coping them into a web form so I can use it. Of course if you’ve never heard of After the Deadline you are wondering what I’m talking about.
After the Deadline is an open source server software that provides spelling, style, and grammar checking. The service is free for personal use, and commercial users can run their own server. It has an open API so Plug-ins can be developed to integrate its functionality into almost any application. Right now I’m running both the Firefox Extension and the WordPress Plugin. It’s moved me out of Microsoft’s Live Writer for writing my posts because I want to use it to check my writing. I’m thinking that it might be an interesting exercise to try to write an After the Deadline plug-in for Live Writer, though after using the built-in editor in WordPress for the last few weeks, I’m wondering if it’s worth it. Perhaps I should move to the web for my writing.
What makes this different from most spell checkers is that it’s very context aware and so it can spot the wrong use of words like ‘meat’ and ‘meet’ or ‘know’ and ‘no’. This is one of my biggest issues when writing, I spell the word right, it’s just the wrong word. Another great feature is that when it shows you your errors it has an option to see an explanation. For example this last sentence I had a hidden Verb, I had know idea what that was but a quick check of the explanation and now I do:
Though as with all automated checkers it’s not right 100% of the time, I’ve found it right most of the time. Add to that the ability to prompt you when you are submitting a form without running a check, makes it a great tool if you do any writing online.
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