Tools like After the Deadline (and the proofreading tools built in to WordPress.com) are great for catching typos and making sure that an overlooked mis-type doesn’t cloud your message. As anyone who’s ever relied on a proofreading tool knows, however, there’s more to clean copy than a lack of typos.
Use After the Deadline as your personal proofreading assistant, but consider the other key copyediting steps before you hit “publish.” Rely on this copyediting trifecta to give your sparkling prose a final polish:
- Accuracy. Is everything you’ve written correct? This is critical if what you’re writing includes things like dates, contact information, or data — it’s easy for our eyes to skip over a street addresses or URL we’ve seen a hundred times, so make a point of double-checking. Accuracy is about more that just verifying statistics and email addresses, though. If you’re giving instructions, are they clear? Is there anything you’re written that can be misinterpreted? Be your own devil’s advocate, and give your writing a once-over for accuracy; your piece will be stronger for it.
- Nips and Tucks. Editing is just as important as writing; the first few drafts you write are just that — drafts. Once you’ve got all your ideas down clearly and accurately and you think you’re happy with what you’ve got, take a figurative x-acto knife to your words. Is each word necessary? Is each word as strong as it can be? Does each word advance your point? Be merciless.
- Spelling and Grammar. Here’s where After the Deadline comes in! Do a final sweep of your tight and toned piece to eliminate distracting typos and grammar gaffes. Even your most lyrical description will land with a thunk if your “two” should have been a “too.”
If you’ve got a self-hosted WordPress blog, the multi-functional Jetpack plugin gives you After the Deadline along with dozens of other goodies, and there are After the Deadline extensions available for Chrome, Firefox, and Open Office. Whatever your site’s platform, there’s a tool to help you look your best.
In our last post, we let you know that we’d no longer be supporting After the Deadline browser extensions — you can still use AtD, just within WordPress itself rather than through a browser. If your site is on WordPress.com, you’re all set; you’ve got a “proofread” button right in your post and page editors.
But what if you’re prone to typos and running a self-hosted WordPress blog? Easy: Jetpack.
Jetpack is the Swiss army knife of plugins: it’s a multipurpose plugin that gives your self-hosted WordPress site two dozen of the most popular features of WordPress.com. By hooking your site into the WordPress.com cloud, it lets you have the best of both worlds: WordPress.com power and ease with WordPress.org flexibility.
Why are we going on about Jetpack on the After the Deadline blog? Simple: installing Jetpack gives you AtD, right there in your post editor, so you can check your work no matter where you’re publishing. And if that isn’t enough, consider some of the other features it includes:
- Tiled photo galleries, so you can create elegant, magazine-style mosaic layouts with a few clicks.
- Shortcode embeds to speed up the process of inserting multimedia.
- Comments that let readers respond to you using their WordPress.com, Facebook, or Twitter login.
- Notifications and stats to help you manage everything from one simple toolbar.
- Sharing tools to take your content from stand-alone post to viral sensation.
That’s just the tip of the jetpack – check out Jetpack.me for a full features list. Best of all, this can all be yours for the low, low price of zero dollars, and with only one plugin to install.
Remember, if you still want to pitch in with the development and maintenance of browser-specific After the Deadline extensions, the main AtD site has tons of developer resources. But if you just want to make sure you never publish another “teh” (at least, accidentally), then Jetpack’s your plugin.
It’s been a few years since we launched After the Deadline, and it’s helped millions of bloggers put their best feet forward with clean, error-free copy.
If you’re a WordPress.com user you’ve got After the Deadline technology built right in to your site, although you might just know it as the “proofread” button in your visual editor. If you’ve got a self-hosted WordPress.org site, then you have After the Deadline as part of the suite of features in the Jetpack plugin.
(You do have Jetpack installed, right? No? Go ahead and do that, we’ll wait.)
If After the Deadline proofreading is something you rely on when publishing, we encourage you to use the built-in WordPress.com tool or install Jetpack — while there are extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Open Office available, Automattic will no longer be supporting those as of the end of this month.
Luckily, After the Deadline and all its extensions are completely open source. If you’re a developer with a yen for good grammar, why not lend a hand in its future growth? There are lots of developer resources on the main After the Deadline site, as well as an active Google Group for folks who want to pitch in or figure out how to add After the Deadline to their projects. (If you’re not already a part of Google Groups, join up and then search for “ATD” to find them.) We appreciate everyone who’s already taken the time to contribute, and look forward to see where you’ll take After the Deadline next.
After the Deadline for OpenOffice.org has been kept under the radar. It started out as a modification of the Language Tool plugin for OpenOffice.org. The first release was simple but worked. The second release added some error checking to let you know when the extension couldn’t connect to the AtD server. Today, I’m releasing the third release.
This release fixes a bug that prevented OpenOffice.org from applying After the Deadline to non-English (US) documents. As the developer, I’m responsible for specifying the locales the extension can check and well. I used en_UK and not en_GB. It’s an honest mistake. If you tried After the Deadline but found yourself frustrated because it wouldn’t check anything, try again–you’ll be quite pleased.
This release also cleans up the “AtD Service” option. It trims trailing slashes from the URL (if you added one) and makes it easier to reset the extension to the default AtD server.
If you’re using After the Deadline 0.1 or 0.2, click Tools -> Extension Manager -> Check for Updates to get the latest. Otherwise you can download the After the Deadline for OpenOffice.org from our site.
After the Deadline for OpenOffice.org is now ready for a more general audience. Enjoy.
There’s another way to make After the Deadline available on your blog. Now you can use it with comments thanks to the After the Deadline for Comments plugin by Otto42. You can see it in action on the world-famous ma.tt blog. If you have feedback on this plugin, there is a thread on the WPTavern.com forum.
Here is a screenshot:
So, if you’re looking for spelling and grammar checking for your blog comments, After the Deadline can help. If you just want this checking capability for yourself, we offer plugins for Google Chrome and Firefox as well.
After the Deadline for Google Chrome 1.2 is now available. This release fixes several bugs and adds a few options. Specifically:
- This release fixes issues that were affecting Google Spreadsheet, Blogger, and GMail users.
- The “no writing mistakes were found” dialog is now optional. Go to the AtD options page to disable it.
To update to the latest:
Go to chrome://extensions/ and click Update Extensions Now.
The zesty sauce of After the Deadline is our language model. We use our language model to improve our spelling corrector, filter ill-fitting grammar checker suggestions, and even detect if you used the wrong word.
It’s not hard to build a language model, but it can be time-consuming. Our binary model files have always been available through our GPL After the Deadline distribution.
Today, as our gift to you, we’re releasing ASCII dumps of our language models under a creative commons attribution license. There is no over-priced consortium to join and you don’t need a university affiliation to get these files.
Here are the files:
This file contains each word token, a tab separator, and a count. There are 164,834 words from 76,932,676 occurrences. Our spell checker dictionary is made of words that occur two or more times in this list.
beneficently 4 Yolande 12 Fillmore's 4 kantar 2 Kayibanda 3 Solyman 2 discourses 92 Yolanda 11 discourser 1
This file is a dump of each two-word sequence that occurs in our corpus. It has 5,612,483 word pairs associated with a count. You can use this information to calculate the probability of a word given its next or previous words.
military annexation 4 military deceptions 1 military language 1 military legislation 1 military sophistication 1 military officer 61 military riot 1 military conspiracy 1 military retirement 2
This file has a limited set of trigrams (sequences of three words). Each trigram begins or ends with a word in our confusion set text file. You will need the information from the bigram corpus to construct trigram probabilities for these words.
a puppy given 1 a puppy for 4 a puppy dies 1 a puppy and 4 a puppy named 2 a puppy is 3 a puppy of 3 a puppy with 1 a puppy when 2
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
The smarts behind After the Deadline is our open source software service. This is the code that accepts text, checks it with cool AI algorithms, and spits out XML containing spelling errors, grammar errors, and suggestions. This code, with the TinyMCE and jQuery plugins, allows you to integrate After the Deadline checking into your web applications.
Today, I’ve posted an update to the software service package. Many of you have emailed me with questions about the AtD service, these updates should help you out. Here are the main changes:
- Added a low-memory mode to run AtD. Now you no longer need a super-computer to run AtD. The low-memory mode loads (and discards) parts of the language model as needed. The trade-off, it’s a little slower and probably won’t scale to hundreds of thousands of clients per day. The option to run AtD in full-bore production mode still exists. The quality of service is the same between the two modes.
- Parts of the AtD service were rewritten to allow AtD to run on Windows out of the box. I’ve also added a run-lowmem.bat file that starts the AtD service in low-memory mode on Windows.
- This update to the service supports the /checkGrammar API call that AtD for OpenOffice.org relies on. This call performs all checks except spelling. Why? Because the spelling corrector is the slowest part of AtD. By eliminating it, it’s possible to do as-you-type grammar checking for a lot of people.
- Of course this update has more grammar checks, an updated dictionary, and other enhancements that come from my maintenance of After the Deadline. You can view the commit to see the differences.
Enjoy the update.
When After the Deadline started out, its greatest weakness was the lack of places one could use it. Originally it was available on PolishMyWriting.com, then WordPress and TinyMCE, and now many more applications. Making After the Deadline available in many places has allowed many of you to use it.
After the Deadline isn’t the only proofreading game in town though. Language Tool, An Gramadóir, and CoGROO are among many existing projects to make proofreading technologies available under an open source license. The challenge for these tools is they can’t be used in many places. The three I mentioned are available for OpenOffice.org and maybe a few other places.
Make Your Proofreading Technology Available in More Places
So, imagine that you want to make your proofreading technology available in more places, what would you do? One solution: implement the After the Deadline protocol.
After the Deadline is available for Firefox, Google Chrome, bbPress, WordPress, TinyMCE, jQuery, and even OpenOffice.org (beta). We have pretty solid extensions for each of these. Each of these extensions communicates with an After the Deadline server using a simple XML protocol.
If your proofreading technology spoke the After the Deadline protocol, then in theory, you could point one of our many extensions to your software and voilà, you’ll have a full user-experience for your technology.
Check Your Esperanto Grammar in Firefox
The developer of Esperantilo, a grammar checker for Esperanto, realized this and modified AtD/Firefox to talk to his program when it’s running. The result? Speakers of Esperanto now have an option to check their Esperanto writing from Firefox.
Here is a screenshot of it in action:
Yes, I like this…
Right now it’s easy to configure AtD for WordPress.org, bbPress, TinyMCE, jQuery, and OpenOffice.org to talk to another server. That’s a lot of ways for users to use your proofreading technology. Artur, the developer of Esperantilo, had to use an older (non-SSL) version of AtD/Firefox to point it to his software. If other proofreading packages choose to support the After the Deadline protocol and API, I’m happy to add an option to After the Deadline for Firefox and Google Chrome to support custom end-points.
If more developers implement the AtD protocol in their proofreading software, then users can benefit from using the best proofreading technology for their needs in many more applications.
OpenOffice.org 3.2.1 was released a few weeks ago. To commemorate this, I’d like to write about the different proofreading tools available for this platform. It’s a common misconception that OpenOffice.org checks grammar out of the box. It doesn’t. OpenOffice.org does, however, have an API that lets developers add a grammar checker via an extension.
There are proofreading tools / grammar checkers for OpenOffice.org. A few that you may want to look at include:
Language Tool is a rule-based grammar checker with an impressive community developing rules for 18 languages. The inner-workings of this system were a heavy inspiration to AtD’s grammar checker implementation. We use Language Tool to check grammar for our French and German offerings of After the Deadline.
I saw Neil Newbold of the University of Surrey, the scientist developer of Readability Report, speak recently. I felt like I was listening to my proofreading brother from another mother. After the Deadline started life as a style checker hosted at PolishMyWriting.com. The AtD style checker uses best practices and suggestions from the Plain English movement to help you clean up your writing. Readability Report does the same thing for OpenOffice.org. It’s a style checker (rooted in Plain English) AND it’s a readability checker.
Some of the readability heuristics are incredible. Neil does some neat NLP work to decide which sentence is your simplest sentence and which sentences are your weirdest sentences. If you want to learn more about how these work, I recommend reading Neil’s paper The Linguistics of Readability: The Next Step for Word Processing that was presented at the NAACL Computational Linguistics and Writing Workshop in Los Angeles, CA.
Coming Soon: After the Deadline for OpenOffice.org
Since you’re here, I presume you know about After the Deadline. It’s a proofreading software service. After the Deadline uses statistical language models to offer smarter grammar and style recommendations. It also uses the same language models to detect over 1,500 misused words. If you write weather when you mean whether, After the Deadline can help you.
Recently, I started developing an After the Deadline extension for OpenOffice.org. I was so excited when I started this, I couldn’t stop until I had a beta ready for you to try (yes, you can download and install it now). It’s really cool to use After the Deadline in a word processor, like OpenOffice.org Writer.
Because After the Deadline is a software service, this extension requires an internet connection to check your grammar, style, and misused words. If you’re not connected, it will silently do nothing. Rest assured, we’re not keeping your data and this extension communicates with our service over SSL.