After the Deadline

OpenOffice.org Grammar Checkers

Posted in Talking to myself by rsmudge on June 14, 2010

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

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.

Readability Report

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 theĀ  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.

The code is available in a public subversion repository and there is a category in the AtD ticket tracker for this OpenOffice.org extension.

After the Deadline for Firefox – Released

Posted in Firefox addon, News by rsmudge on February 1, 2010

We received addons.mozilla.org approval of After the Deadline recently and we’re pleased to announce the release of the After the Deadline add-on for Firefox.

After the Deadline works in text areas on most webpages. Simply push a button (F7) or click to check your spelling, style, and grammar no matter where you are.

This add-on has all the After the Deadline features. You can enable the style checker options you use in the preferences and you can ignore errors to prevent them from coming up.

Links of interest:

After the Deadline is an open source proofreading technology. You can also embed it into web applications using TinyMCE, jQuery, and CKEditor.

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