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Using correct spelling improves your communication and can prevent costly mistakes and even lethal mistakes. Several solutions have been developed over the last decades, each building on top of the previous one. The current state of affairs is that there is a need for a fast, transparent and maintainable spell checker.
To meet these demands, the free and open source spell checker Nuspell is being created. Its aim is to be integrated in mainstream office suites, web browsers, email clients, computer-assisted translation services and other applications working with text. Speed, accuracy, documentation and maintainability are the main advantages that put Nuspell at the front of contemporary spell checking solutions.
Familiar examples of both proprietary or open source software which can start using Nuspell as a drop-in replacement of their current spell checker are:
- Apache OpenOffice.org
- Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird
- Google Chrome and Chromium
- Apple macOS and Safari
- Adobe Photoshop, Illustator, InDesign and other products
Also web services, lesser-known text editors and more technical software such as IDEs can use Nuspell. Integration can be done in many ways such as dynamic linking or static linking, but Nuspell can be integrated via language bindings too.
Nuspell’s main features are:
- extensive support for language peculiarities with Unicode, locale, affixing, compounding and complex morphology
- suggestion improvements using n-gram similarity, rule and dictionary based pronunciation data
- personalization where users can ignore or add words for the duration of a session or for persistent support
Furthermore, Nuspell has:
- a C++ library licensed under LGPL v3 or later preventing vendor lock-in
- backwards compatibility for MySpell and Hunspell dictionaries and affix files, a.k.a. language support
- an extensive testing framework to optimize functionality and performance
- documented code and algorithms promoting transparency, understanding and maintenance
- ports and packages for at least all major operating systems and distributions, including:
Character encodings encountered in dictionaries and affix files which Nuspell works are at least:
Languages and Users
Currently, almost 90 different languages and language variations are supported. This covers the languages used in almost 200 countries and geographic regions in the world. As many users can also use a second language, such as English, the user base is almost all of the approximately 2.5 billion computer users. That is a third of the Earth’s population.
Nuspell itself does not support any language. You need language support, also called a language pack or dictionary, in order for Nuspell to check spelling in a certain language. Language support can be found for:
- LibreOffice via language support and dictionary extensions
- Mozilla Firefox via language tool add-ons
- Thunderbird via language tool add-ons
- Ubuntu via MySpell and Hunspell language support
- Debian via MySpell and Hunspell language support
Note that installing language support is automated and directly available from inside the software listed above.
Even though spell checking can be a very complex subject, we need your help. Nuspell isn’t simply using a list of correct words, but a mechanism of very intricate spell checking techniques and tactics. Nevertheless, we can use help on all levels from fixing bugs, implement feature requests, improving support for a certain language, porting to platforms, packaging for operating systems and integrating browsers and office suites.
To help keep a healthy community and promote diversity and inclusion, we work with a code of conduct. Contact us if you can contribute with your skills and learn more about spell checking.
Several organizations have enabled the development and maintenance of Nuspell. The sponsors, past and current, are:
- Mozilla Open Source Support in 2017 and 2018 for the rewrite in pure C++ called Nuspell, version 2.0
- Mozilla Open Source Support in 2019 and 2020 for completing base functionality and integration of Nuspell, version 3.0
- Stichting OpenTaal in 2020 for hexagon stickers to be distributed at FOSDEM and other conferences
Contact us if you are considering sponsoring the development and maintenance of free and open source spell checking. Especially with so many users and many different software integrations, this software is in constant need of proficient support. Reducing spelling errors not only improves quality of communication and indirectly teaches people about spelling, but it also reduces the risk for costly errors that could have been prevented.
The code, wiki and issues are managed at GitHub. Use that repository, also the closed issues, for any questions or contributions. Find Nuspell also on social media.
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