After the Deadline

Functional Specification: AtD/Firefox

1. Overview

After the Deadline is a software service that checks spelling, style, and grammar. This project is a browser plugin that lets users check their writing.

2. Scenarios

Edwin Emayle is a web browser user whose account is on SomeMail. Edwin has stopped using the built-in spell checker as it doesn’t tell him the correct word when something is wrong. The economy in the United States goes in a bad direction so now Edwin is applying for a lot of jobs. He wants to look as good as possible. He installs the Firefox plugin. Now when he logs into his SomeMail he uses the plugin hot-key to check his writing and correct it. Occasionally he forgets to do this but he activates the “auto-proofread before submitting a form” feature to stop an email from going out if he forgets to proofread.

Fiona Form is a Firefox user who has to fill out a conference registration. The registration asks her to list her biography, abstract, and provide a detailed presentation outline. Each of these requests has its own field making this a long form for her. Naturally she is a professional and wants to look good so she has installed the AtD Firefox plugin. Checking each field in the form is cumbersome so Fiona is thankful that the developer created a keyboard shortcut that checks every form on the page. One button push and errors are highlighted in each form. She interacts with each error and submits her conference details, confident that her material is free of errors.

Knowle Clue is an employee at a company using Firefox on all their computers. The system administrator installed the AtD plugin on everyone’s workstation because he think it’s pretty cool. Knowle is interacting with a form and notices the spell check button in the lower right. She clicks it and discovers a thicker underlining of errors, better suggestions, and multiple colors. She consults the plugin help to learn what the colors mean. She is also quite happy with her find and in the future she checks her forms by right-clicking and selecting this option.

3. Non-Goals

The After the Deadline system architecture is not setup to handle a “check as you type” situation yet. This software will rely on the user or some event to activate the proofreading feature.

4. Specification

4.1 Presentation

After the Deadline will highlight errors in the text input area and allow users to interact with them by performing a platform appropriate click action [1] to bring up a context menu. Ideally the user should be able to continue editing text [2] while errors are highlighted.

1. Test Note: make sure platform appropriate “click action” works with Ctrl+Click required to simulate a right-click on a one button mouse (for MacOS X users).

2. Technical Note: may have to swap the textarea out for an iframe or content-editable DIV which Firefox 3.0+ supports.

4.2 Context Menu

Selecting a suggestion on the context menu will replace the highlighted text with the suggestion [3]. The context menu will also allow a user to ignore the suggestion (remove the highlighting) or add the highlighted phrase to an ignored phrases list.

3. Test Note: make sure suggestions listed as (omit) remove the highlighted phrase from the text.

The context menu should also include an explain option when the error has a more information URL associated with it. Selecting the explain option should bring up a window with this information.

4.3 Activation

The user will activate proofreading by either a keyboard shortcut, popup menu item, or an event.

This plugin should have a “Check Spelling and Grammar” item in the right-click context menu of checkable fields to indicate to the user this option exists.

Two keyboard shortcuts should be available for proofreading. One should proofread all the text areas on the current page. The other should proofread the text area that is in focus.

A keyboard shortcut should be available to clear the errors from the field that is in focus.

These methods of activation will be used instead of a button above the text area. The goal of omitting the button outside the text area is to make the add-on less invasive.

Design note: Let’s experiment with a button inside of the text area. If it doesn’t prevent editing, is translucent when not hovered over, this may serve as a good visual cue for users.

Users should have an option to automatically proofread a form before it is submitted. When a user clicks submit any text areas are checked if they have been proofread or not. If they haven’t, the proofread is run. If there are errors highlighted the user is prompted and asked if they want to submit this form.

A check box should allow the user to say they do not want to be prompted in this way again. If this check box is present on the dialog, it’s OK to make this an option turned on by default.

4.4 Help

A help dialog or link to a help page should exist. This should document:

  • What options are available and how to turn them off and on
  • How to enable or disable automatic checking
  • What keyboard shortcuts exist

Where the user access this dialog or where to place this link is an open question.

4.5 Options

There should be an options dialog for this add-on. This should let the user:

  • Enable or disable categories of errors
  • Enable or disable automatic proofreading events (e.g., on form submit)
  • Manage the Ignore Always phrase list (add new phrases, delete phrases)
  • Map the keyboard shortcuts to new keys

5. Target Applications

5.1 Content Management Systems

5.2 Webmail Applications

5.3 Social Applications

One Response

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  1. […] there is still much work to be done on the add-on, a very early-stage beta of the add-on is now available for download. […]


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