What's New in Spell Catcher X version 10.1
Spell Catcher X 10.1 represents well over 6 man-months of development since Spell Catcher X was first released. There's a lot that's new – features, compatibility and under-the-hood improvements. Take a deep breath and read all about it!
New for Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther)
Spell Catcher X 10.1 is fully compatible with Mac OS X 10.3. Actually, it's more than just compatible. Spell Catcher X 10.1 takes advantage of new technologies available in Panther.
New in Panther is the Complete command, available in most Cocoa applications (Mail, Address Book, iCal, TextEdit, Safari, iChat, Stickies, OmniOutliner, OmniWeb, Nisus Writer Express, Notebook, and many more). Type a portion of a word, then type F5 (or option-escape), and a list of matching words appears. These matching words are provided by the currently-chosen language in the standard OS X Spelling Panel, which Spell Catcher X fully integrates with.
Spell Catcher X has new preference (found in the Interactive pane) where you can specify what appears in the completion list. Take a look, and you'll see that Spell Catcher adds a new twist to Completion! Shorthand Glossary expansions, matching items from your Address Book, and Thesaurus look up results can appear as completions. If you like the way that Mail can look up e-mail addresses when you type a name, and wish you could do this in other applications as well, Spell Catcher X's new completion features make it possible.
Take a look how this works in TextEdit — in my Address Book, I have a buddy named "Joe Fabites" with a nickname "fatbits". To address a letter to him, just type "fatbits", then F5, and see:
Select the work address item, keep on typing, and voilà!
Joe Fabites (work)
223 Rounded Sq.
Completion also provides a great alternative way to make Shorthand Glossary expansions. If you have a shorthand "fyi" that expands to "for your information", type "fyi" followed by F5 to see:
Type a space and "for your information" is instantly inserted into your document! With Spell Catcher X 10.1, Word Completion isn't just for words any more.
The Panther Look
Spell Catcher X 10.1 adopts the new look of most Panther controls, including highlighted toolbar items, the new Help button, alternating background colors and grid lines for tables and outlines, and more. Sorry, no brushed metal…
A Glimpse of the Future
Spell Catcher X 10.1's input method has begun the transition to using a powerful new text service technology, available only in Panther in most Cocoa applications and a select few Carbon applications. This new technology allows direct access to a document's textual contents - no more "middleman" called the pasteboard (aka clipboard). Notice that if you select a word ("clipboard" in this example) in TextEdit and pull down the input menu, the word that's selected is displayed in those menu commands that would use the selection. Subtle, but powerful. Look Ups are instantaneous - no need for Spell Catcher to copy the selection to the clipboard to look it up! Future versions of Spell Catcher X will be able to use this same technology to make shorthand glossary expansions and interactive spelling corrections instantaneously - no backspacing required. Other things become possible that never were before, but we'll leave that to your imagination (and ours).
New for Everyone (Jaguar and Panther)
Most of what's new, though, is equally available on both Mac OS X 10.2 (Jaguar) and 10.3 (Panther). We've probably missed a few things, but here's a pretty complete list:
A New Way to Install
Spell Catcher X 10.1 now installs simply by using the Finder to copy the Spell Catcher application to your hard disk. When you run it the first time, it will ask if you want to install or update its input method component (used for interactive checking). If you choose to install the input method, Spell Catcher will ask you to log out and in again, and will do its very best to ensure that the input menu appears in your menu bar with Spell Catcher in it the next time you log in. No more having to visit System Preferences, International, Input Menu tab, then turn on Spell Catcher (or even fiddle with other settings if you are a Jaguar user) to get interactive checking configured and available! This was a common customer "confusion" issue, and hopefully Spell Catcher X 10.1 will reduce this significantly. There are even new controls in the Interactive Preference pane where you can install, activate and deactivate Spell Catcher's input method from within Spell Catcher itself (using the input menu is still the recommended way, though).
Note: On Jaguar, this can help with basic setup and configuration, but does not and cannot fix the "disappearing input menu when restarting" bug in OS X 10.2.4 through OS X 10.2.8.
There's More in all Those Menus!
You'll notice a number of additions to the various Spell Catcher "external" menus. This includes the input method's (checkmark) menu, the Dock Menu, and the Spell Catcher item in the Services menu.
The Input Menu
Right away you'll notice the new and improved input menu. It's organized more logically, and contains items with customizable keyboard shortcuts for the commonly-used Ignore, Ignore All and Forget All buttons in the Suggest Spelling window. The current error and its type are also displayed in the menu. And to satisfy a long-standing request, we've added Check All so you can quickly check your entire document, saving you the step of selecting all the text yourself.
More notable additions: A Modify Selection submenu, containing all your modules and macros. Assign the ones you use the most keyboard shortcuts for easy access. Now you can use them everywhere, not just from the Services Menu and the Modify Selection window! For those that use different keyboard layouts for different jobs, you can now choose the one you want from the Set Keyboard submenu. You no longer have to choose a keyboard layout, then choose Spell Catcher again from the input menu. Switch keyboards while Spell Catcher is the active input method! The Check Word command has also been added to the input menu. This is the best choice for checking one or two word selections – much faster and more lightweight than using Check Selection for this purpose (Check Word is, of course, still available from the Services and Dock menu).
The Dock Menu
We've added Check All to the Dock menu as well, along with the Modify Selection submenu and the New Shorthand command. More commands from more places!
Get Updates, Get Languages — Easier and Faster
It's always good to know if you're using the latest and greatest version of your favorite programs. It's also good to know whether there are any enhancements available. This is now simple with Spell Catcher X 10.1's Get Updates and Languages command. If there's something new that you should have or are entitled to have (based on your current license), you can get it without having to find it on our web site (though you can still do that if you'd like).
The Fonts you Want
A new General Preferences pane lets you configure the launch behavior, and the font and size for the various lists of Spell Catcher reference documents and words, and of the Shorthand Glossary expansion editor in Shorthand Glossary document windows.
Know your Shorthands
A new shorthand glossary expansion preview shows you how an abbreviation will expand, based on any special flags and the case of the abbreviation and expansion. No more guessing, get it right the first time.
One Shorthand, Many Expansions
Shorthands have been smartened up in other ways as well. Spell Catcher X 10.1 uses the rules defined for each language to automatically add applicable prefixes and suffixes when transforming an abbreviation into its expansion. In English, this means typing an abbreviation with an apostrophe-s ('s) results in an expansion with apostrophe-s (where appropriate). This is even more useful in languages such as French, where words can have many different such forms. For example, the shorthand "app" -> "apprentissage" can expand in the following ways:
l'app -> l'apprentissage
d'app -> d'apprentissage
Or similarly, "usorb" -> "Université de la Sorbonne" can expand in the following ways:
l'usorb -> l'Université de la Sorbonne
L'usorb -> L'Université de la Sorbonne
Spell Catcher X 10.1 has improved handling of smart quotes in shorthand expansions, following more closely rules for each specific language.
Create Shorthands Faster
A New Shorthand command has been added to the Services/Spell Catcher menu, and Spell Catcher's Dock menu. Select the text you want to use as an expansion, choose New Shorthand, and just type the abbreviation you want to use.
Enhanced Shorthand Expanding
Tab and return characters in shorthand expansions are now always "sent" to the application as true control/movement keystrokes. The same goes if you trigger a shorthand expansion with a tab or return. This means that an expansion can tab between fields in a spreadsheet or database, and that typing return to trigger a shorthand in something like iChat's messaging or chat window will make the expansion, and the return will activate the default button (or perform whatever the default action is).
Improved Find in References
Find in References now finds more matches, shows the expansion for matching shorthands, and will apply language-specific rules to isolate the infix portion of a word when looking for matches.
Import Spell Catcher Plus and TypeIt4Me files
Spell Catcher X 10.1 can directly import all types of Spell Catcher Plus references, and can import TypeIt4Me files into your Shorthand Glossary documents.
Lots of User Interface Improvements
The little things we've all come to expect from a Mac OS X application, like drawing ellipses in the middle of text that is too long, drawing files using their Finder label color, and using the scaled icons have all been added to Spell Catcher X 10.1.
Under the Hood
Spell Catcher X 10.1 is significantly faster in many areas, impacts typing performance much less, and (in certain situations) uses only half the memory that Spell Catcher X 10.0.x did. All part of being a good Mac OS X citizen.
Spelling suggestions are improved. Integration with the Mac OS X Spelling Panel is smoother.
Interactive checking can now handle characters input from sources other than the keyboard – you can use the Character Palette to insert hard-to-type characters into your document, and Spell Catcher X will properly "see" them as if they were typed.
We've learned a lot about dealing with applications that don't support input methods properly or at all. And fixed some bugs in our input method as well. Almost all known compatibility problems have been dealt with. Spell Catcher X should work with all but the most hostile applications that run on OS X.
But there's always some application out there we've never seen or heard of that may not "get along". We have a new way to deal with this eventuality as well – a quick way to provide compatibility enhancements without having to create a new version of Spell Catcher X to do it!
The Input Method Tuner
Often it's possible to make a few "tweaks" to the way Spell Catcher's input method behaves with a particular application to make it compatible or improve compatibility. When this is the case, we can create a small file containing these tweaks and make it available from the new Get Updates and Languages command. Download a new tuner, copy it into your Application Support/Spell Catcher folder, and compatibility problem solved! No need to log out or restart, either.
(This is a made-up example, don't go looking for it, these enhancements are already built-into Spell Catcher X 10.1)
A new License Management scheme (see the Licenses… command in the Spell Catcher menu) is being phased in. Spell Catcher X 10.1 still uses the same codes that version 10.0.x did, but it is now possible to specify whether a code should be for all users of a specific Macintosh, or just for the current user. It's also possible to add multiple licenses – something that is not terribly relevant in Spell Catcher X 10.1, but allows us to implement more flexible licensing schemes in the future. This would make it possible (just an example, not a product announcement) to have a less expensive licensing option for those that only use a single language, or similarly make it possible to add a license for a particular language or feature that would be of value to some, but perhaps not others.
The licensing scheme in Spell Catcher X 10.1 also made it possible to create a trial version of the program that can be licensed into the "real thing". Spell Catcher X 10.1 can run in unlicensed mode (only features you can access from within the Spell Catcher X application will work), trial mode (14-days of nearly full functionality – only two languages can be used, and only the first 25 entries in editable Learned Words and Shorthand Glossary documents are used), and in fully licensed mode (no restrictions whatsoever).
This means that it's no longer possible to lose your installer. Just download the trial from our web site and enter your license code. The only difference between the trial download the retail download (or CD) is that the trial download (in order to make it as small as possible) only contains the U.S. English language plug-in. Once you enter your license code into the U.S. English-only (trial) version, you can simply use the new Get Languages and Updates feature to download the additional 8 standard languages.
And There's More
- Spell Catcher X's Services support has been re-implemented so that it works much better with the ever-increasing number of Carbon applications that support the Services menu.
- The language used during interactive checking is more tightly coupled to the language used for Check Selection, Look Up, and Check Word commands via the input menu.
- Shorthand abbreviations can contain leading and trailing punctuation (non-alphanumeric) characters.
- The icon representing the current keyboard layout can be shown in Spell Catcher's Dock icon.
- The Languages Preference pane has be re-designed and more accurately reflects the real default language that is used (Universal or Application-specific).
- Spell Catcher's input method can more accurately determine whether there is actually a document active that you can really type text into.
- The Suggest Spelling window now remembers its position reliably, and on a per-application basis. There is also a new preference in the Interactive pane, Spelling tab that can (in most Cocoa applications) automatically open the Suggest Spelling window in close proximity to the actual error word in the document.
- New online Help Book.
- Various new preferences.
- Many more less obvious improvements. Every single feature, command, window, menu and dialog has been improved in some way or another.
Bugs/Compatibility Problems Fixed
Many bugs, some serious, some minor, some annoying, and some very obscure have been squashed. Here are some of the more notable nasty ones:
- Crashes when Spell Catcher's input method was active in many of the Adobe CS applications.
- Crashes when Spell Catcher's input method was active in a Carbon application when using the sheet versions of the Page Setup and Print dialogs.
- Hang when Spell Catcher's input method was active and MS Entourage opened its Progress window when launched (moving or clicking the mouse, or typing any character would kick things back into gear).
- Potential overflow of the event queue when making long (> 200 character) shorthand expansions in some Carbon applications that don't implement any support for input methods (non-TSM aware).
- Underlining of errors in the Check Selection window works properly on Panther.
- Spurious alerts from the input method about the application not being licensed, registered or having been run for the first time in processes running as root (especially on Panther during fast user switching) no longer appear.
- If an application places only Plain Text on the clipboard during Check Selection, only plain text is pasted (Eudora).
- Various issues related to the input method's menu item enabling on Panther have been fixed (note that there is a bug affecting all input methods on Panther where occasionally no items at all appear - this is outlined in our FAQs on our web site).
- Some semi-obscure sort order issues in the various editable reference document windows on Panther have been fixed.
- Much improved compatibility with certain Carbon applications that had "questionable" TSM implementations (MT-NewsWatcher, Mulberry versions prior to 3.1, StickyBrain).
Even though it took a while to get to version 10.1 (and a lot has happened since January of 2003 when Casady & Greene first released the product), the new features in Spell Catcher X 10.1 give us a product we can make improvements to much more quickly than before.
In the few weeks following the release of Spell Catcher X 10.1, we will be making available the following new language plug-ins:
- Portuguese Spelling
- Canadian English Spelling
- Dutch (De Nieuwe Spelling), also includes a Dutch thesaurus
These will be additional low-cost add-on language plug-ins, available from our online store for approximately $10 USD.
- Ghostwriter almost made it into Spell Catcher X 10.1. It will most certainly make it into the next "dot" release (not into any 10.1.x bug fix release, though).
- AppleScript Support is a planned direction. A small amount is in Spell Catcher X 10.1, but we didn't have time to really finish the job.
- Speech Recognition, which can probably be configured right now to work well with Spell Catcher X, is a good way to keep your hands on the keyboard.
- Webkit offers the ability to have a full-fledged web browser integrated into any application. Look Up takes on a whole new meaning when you think of combining it with the internet!
- Input Methods themselves, when used in an application that truly supports them, can do some pretty amazing things. Take a look at Apple's Kotoeri input method (Japanese, primarily) when used in a Cocoa application to get an idea. The idea is to continue to offer basic input method features as Spell Catcher X currently does, but to take advantage of what can really be done in those applications that are engineered to work well with the Text Services Manager and input methods.
- Other Technologies are available on Mac OS X, especially Panther, that would be a great complement to Spell Catcher X. We already mentioned the new text service direct document access features that are new in Panther. The possibilities that could arise from this type of tight integration with applications and Spell Catcher X seem endless.
- Your Ideas are always welcome. Use the new Send Feedback by E-Mail command in the Help menu to tell us what you want.
Summing it Up
If you're currently a Spell Catcher X user, we hope you enjoy this new version. If you're new to Spell Catcher X, we hope that if you enjoy the trial version you will decide to purchase it, and support our plans to improve this product in the ways we'd all like.