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Internet Look Up : Online Dictionary Servers

If you can't find what you're looking for in the Thesaurus or Dictionary Definitions, or are in search of even more results from the Look Up command, why not consult the Internet? Spell Catcher can look up definitions and matches from the numerous online Dictionary (DICT) Servers that are available on the web.

More specifically, Spell Catcher X can look up words from servers on the Internet (or even running locally) that support the DICT protocol. Detailed information about this type of server can be found online at http://www.dict.org/. See the Additional Resources section below for more links to information that's available online.

Note that the content and availability of the various DICT servers on the Internet cannot be guaranteed, and is not associated in any way with Spell Catcher X or Rainmaker Research Inc.

How To Use The Look Up Window With Online Dictionary Servers

When you first run Spell Catcher X 10.2, a default Dictionary Server document that accesses the dict.org server is created to get you started. As with other editable Spell Catcher X reference documents, you are free to create as many Dictionary Server documents as you'd like. In the Spell Catcher application, choose File > New > Dictionary Server. Enter the address of the host server you want to use, then click the Sync Databases button to download the available databases from the server. You must be connected to the Internet to do this, and to Look Up from a Dictionary Server.

Dictionary Server document

You can open the Default Dictionary Server document from the Look Up window's References drawer. Drill down the Online Dictionary Server item, then double-click the "Default Dict Server" item. This document references the server at www.dict.org, and is "pre-sync'ed" with the available databases on that server (as of the date Spell Catcher X 10.2 shipped). If the databases on the server change (or to see if they have changed), you can always click the "Sync Databases" button again. If nothing's changed on the server, the document will remain unmodified.

Default Dictionary Server - dict.org

The Dictionary Server Document Window

Other Look Up Window Features for Dictionary Servers

Look Up window references drawer

Differences When Looking Up from an Online Dictionary Servers

Look Up results from Dictionary Servers don't appear all at once, as is the case with the Thesaurus and Dictionary Definitions. Because the look up is performed over the (slow and unreliable, compared to your hard disk) Internet, Spell Catcher adds results to the Look Up window as they arrive. How long this takes depends on the speed of your network connection, the server being queried, and many other factors. This means you will see results added to the Look Up window in "pieces." When results arrive for a particular online database, its color is set to that of the familiar "blue link," and the cursor will change to the pointing hand when moved over it. This indicates that there were results from a particular server and database-clicking the database in the References drawer will navigate to them.

If there are no results for a look up from any given source (Dictionary Server database, Thesaurus or Dictionary) nothing is displayed at all in the Look Up window. Previously, the title of the reference with a caption that nothing was found would be shown.

To easily determine whether a look up source produced any results, they are displayed in blue as click-able “links.”

Double-clicking a Dictionary Server document in the Look Up window's references drawer will open the document for editing. Right-clicking a Dictionary Server document will display a contextual menu with Open and Remove items. Choosing Remove is the easiest way to remove a document from the list (this will not delete the document from your hard disk, however!).

NOTE: The “Use?” checkbox for the databases on a Dictionary Server works somewhat differently than how it works for top-level documents (Thesaurus, Dictionary Definitions, Dictionary Server). Specifically, the state of the “Use?” checkbox is stored in the Dictionary Server document itself - and as such, changing the state for a database modifies the document it is contained in. Additionally, while changing the “Use?” state for the top-level Online Dictionary Server item changes the state for all documents of that type (this is no different from the behavior for Thesaurus and Dictionary Definition documents), changing the “Use?” state for a Dictionary Server document will not change the state for any of its databases.

Additional Resources

A tutorial, complete with the software you need, to install and configure your own DICT server on OS X is available from Jens Ropers at http://www.ropersonline.com/dict/. This makes it possible to access the many freely-available DICT databases locally, without having to connect to the Internet.

Numerous other resources are available, including Unix tools, databases and source code from DICT.org's Resources page: http://www.dict.org/links.html.

A list of some of the available DICT servers is maintained at http://luetzschena-stahmeln.de/dictd/index.php. Spell Catcher X uses this list to create a menu of available servers you can choose from when creating your own Spell Catcher Dictionary Server documents.

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