Saturday, January 19, 2008

Finally! Inline Web Spell Correction!

I've complained before, both in this blog as well as to any co-workers in earshot, of the absolute idiocy of the lack of real-time inline automatic spell correction in web browsers. After all, Firefox offers real-time identification of spelling errors; is it really that hard to do automatic correction? Its one of the main reasons I continue to use Microsoft Outlook, for it's ability to use Word as your email editor, with its superb inline spell correction. But, I finally may have found a way.

As-U-Type takes a more holistic approach: it automatically corrects spelling in ALL applications, not just web browsers. This means IM clients, spreadsheets: you name it. Best of all, it offers the ability to save your common mistakes or abbreviations, and automatically correct them in the future.

I've tried As-U-Type before, but I decided to give it a serious run through. I was pleased to find that some of the areas that annoyed me before, such as the absolutely intrusive alerts on corrections, have been mitigated with user controls, and the app also allows you to specify certain applications it will not correct in (thank, but Word already does auto correction; I don't need another helper).

There are some downsides to the app, of course. One is cost: it's $40. A steep price for the functionality, but for fat fingered folks like me, it's worth it. Another is the training: while you can "teach" As-U-Type in real-time, you have to later go through a process by which you review the mistakes and corrections, and tell it to remember each forever. This one is annoying: I truly wish they had simply aped the Word dialog box flow for these. Finally, while the effect upon correction of wiping out the text you have typed and retying it and all subsequent words for you is very cute, it's unnerving and distracting for people like me who have only a passing ability to touch-type: I still look at the keyboard while I type most of the time, and looking to see text I have already typed disappearing and reappearing is jarring.

Still, with over a month of usage under my belt, I was glad to pull the trigger and my blogging, webmail, and IM's have all benefited. It's a bit of a chore to do the training, but the end definitely justifies the means.

No comments: