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.
So today is day two of WordCamp. This was my first one and I have to say it was definitely a good time. I learned a lot, got to interact with many WordPress “personalities”, and showed off AtD a bit.
I gave two presentations. At yesterday’s 2:30pm session I showed After the Deadline and its features to a packed room. To those of you who made it as far as this blog, good to see you, I hope you stick around.
I also gave a talk at 10pm showing how to add After the Deadline to a web application using jQuery. Those present seemed like a strong jQuery crowd so this was a positive thing. I hope some of you try it out. For those who couldn’t make it (but wanted to) here is the presentation:
As a side note: I just noticed AtD corrects wordcamp to WordCamp. I’m on the ball for you guys :)