Why do we need three dictionaries?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by Nermal, Jul 10, 2005.

  1. Nermal Moderator

    Nermal

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    #1
    This is more of a rant than a question.

    OS X through 10.3.9 had a built-in dictionary, used by the spellchecker. If you installed Word, you got a separate dictionary that uses a different "learning database" and some different word spellings. I thought that was bad enough. Now, in Tiger, we also have the Dictionary app, which is yet another independent database! Why on earth do we need three independent dictionaries? :eek:
     
  2. Sedulous macrumors 68000

    Sedulous

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    Dec 10, 2002
    #2
    I haven't a clue why. And of course, you could also add the dictionary from Sherlock as a fourth! Perhaps the third time is the charm or something like that? I'd be interested in finding out why. Of course, I could suggest a bunch of excuses... urr valid reasons. The new dictionary.app is definitely more complete than the "built-in" dictionary and Microsoft services. For Sherlock's dictionary you must be on line for it to work.
     
  3. jamdr macrumors 6502a

    jamdr

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    #3
    Yeah, I agree it is a pain to have all these different dictionaries. What Apple should do is provide one centralized dictionary framework and use it in all of their apps. It would of course be up to MS and other third-party developers to incorporate this dictionary into their applications, but Apple could strongly recommend it. :)
     
  4. redAPPLE macrumors 68030

    redAPPLE

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    #4
    one reason i could think of is, that Apple was developing "dictionary.app" and the "beta"-dictionary is the spellchecker. maybe Apple will just use dictionary.app in Leopard.
     
  5. RacerX macrumors 65832

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    #5
    And that is exactly what Apple did back in 1997 with the first release of Rhapsody (following the lead set by NeXT starting back in 1989). Since day one for Mac OS X, there has been a central spell checking service that any developer can use in their app. But it is totally up to them to take advantage of this.

    I have only one spell check system for all my main applications:
    Create, OmniWeb, TextEdit, Mail,TimeEqualsMoney, OmniGraffle, OmniOutLiner, PhotoToWeb, TIFFany3 Pro and MacJournal​
    and it is available in quite a few other applications:
    Safari, Pages, Nisus Writer Express, Mellel, xPad, etc.​
    Basically any Cocoa application that deals with text.

    It is only Carbon applications that reinvent the spell check "wheel" for each app. Which is why Carbon is the worse choice for developing applications in Mac OS X. If I wanted to make a simple word processor, I could do it in a few hours with Cocoa. And it would include spell checking, Rich Text support and access to Apple's Text Services. It would take me months (as I'm not a programmer) to make that same app with those same abilities in Carbon. Further, Carbon apps tend not to have access to shared services.

    Here is a list of the third party services I make the most use of:And then I added the services menu to my contextual menu via ICeCoffEE.

    There are other types of services within Mac OS X. Apple's Text Services (mentioned above) provides a ton of cool features for cocoa applications. Same with Apple's Color's Panel (which can further be taken advantage of for finding web color codes using exColor).

    There are even services that you can access via standard menus rather than just from the services menu like TextExtras and FontSight.

    Also Apple provides PDF creation via Quartz which can be used (if a developer wants to) within an application or can be accessed via print services (which is available to all applications, not just Cocoa ones).

    And starting with Mac OS X v10.2.4 (as I recall) third party services became available via the print services. For example I'm still using Jaguar on this system and I have a menu were there used to be a Save as PDF button which gives me access to the Save as PDF, Repurpose with PStill or Fax this Document (via an old app called FaxCenter).

    All of these are services which Apple has made available to developers... they just have to use them.

    Ideally, there really only should be two independent dictionaries on your system... a spell checking dictionary and a definitions dictionary. These are two very different tools that are not use for the same purposes.

    I have pointed out the specifics of the spell checking services above, but Apple recently added the Dictionary.app.

    This is not a new thing. NeXT included Digital Webster with every version of NEXTSTEP/OPENSTEP that could be used to define a selected word via either the services menu or key combination.

    When Apple didn't included with Rhapsody, the Omni Group brought it back with one of the first web services applications*... OmniDictionary, which has been available for Mac OS X since at least Developer Preview 4.

    Additionally, when Nisus bought Okito Composer to make Nisus Writer Express, they made Nisus Thesaurus. This is also available via the services menu for doing a quick look up on a word for any Cocoa app.

    I pointed out in another thread that the Dictionary app is not a new and innovative idea, it is Apple bringing back what had pretty much always been there. I know I see this feature every day in OPENSTEP, Rhapsody and Mac OS X.



    *Note: Web services are applications which draw their information from sources on the internet. OmniDictionary uses Dict.org for it's source for definitions. Another example was Watson (followed by Apple with Sherlock 3). Also most Dashboard widgets are web services. Basically, a web service application is a browser independent app that accesses information sources from the web.
     
  6. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #6
    Agreed...although, it would be amazing if they were combined in the following way: what if new words added during spell checking were not only added to the list of correctly spelled words, but were inserted as stubs in dictionary proper, and the computer were able to webcrawl to certain locations for definitions of them? I think that would be really interesting... it would be nice if the dictionary behind dictionary.app evolved from being a static Oxford representation to something more dynamic and wiki-esque! :)
     
  7. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

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    Jan 6, 2004
    #7
    that may very well be a possibility, and hopefully Apple is working on something just like that, with the ability of the widgets to look up information, why not the dictionary app?
     
  8. Nermal thread starter Moderator

    Nermal

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    #8
    I understand that a spell checking dictionary can't be used for definitions, but I don't see why a definitions dictionary can't be used for spell checking. It would be trivial to add all words to the definitions dictionary and spell check against them, even if some words are lacking definitions. Did that make sense? :)
     
  9. ArkabaS macrumors member

    ArkabaS

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    #9
    Although sort of off-topic, isn't it equally annoying how there are, essentially, three different ways to search in Tiger. First you have the top-right corner. Next you have the full fledged Spotlight window. Third, you have the Finder search window (apple+F). I really wish apple could have unified them, just as they should have done with the dictionaries.
     
  10. Nermal thread starter Moderator

    Nermal

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    #10
    Those are unified - they all use the Spotlight engine. The dictionaries, on the other hand, are completely independent.
     
  11. RacerX macrumors 65832

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    #11
    I guess not as I'm having a hard time following what you seem to want.

    The database used for the definitions dictionary is words... and their definitions. Nothing else.

    Spell check is an engine which not only looks at words for incorrect spelling, but also generates possible correct spellings based on the incorrect spellings. It has nothing to do with definitions... it doesn't even acknowledge them... which it shouldn't, that would get in the way.

    These are two very different functions. They don't even deal with or look at words in the same way. When a computer is spell checking, the last thing it needs is definitions.

    We, the users, need definitions... not the spell checking service. The spell checking service only needs to know what is right, what isn't, and what could possibly be the right spelling. The definition of the words is pointless to it.

    Remember, it is a computer, not a person. Computers don't understand this stuff the same way you and I do. To a computer, these are completely different functions.

    More to the point... the spell checking is a service. It is background, no front end. You access it via some other app.

    The Dictionary app is... well, an app. It can stand alone, and be used in that fashion. The fact that (like many other Cocoa apps) it provides a service too, shouldn't be mistaken as it being a service in it's own right. It is not like the spell checking service, color panel, text services, and printing services, all of which are background support for other applications.

    :rolleyes:

    Now, if you are saying that the Dictionary app information should be accessible via the spell checking panel... that would be interesting. Of course definitions need a lot of room to be displayed... I guess it could be a tab on that panel.

    But even then, it would really only be an access point and not the uniting of the two functions as far as the system is concerned.
     
  12. Nermal thread starter Moderator

    Nermal

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    #12
    Oh yeah, I forgot that it gives you suggestions :eek:
    Now I see why the definitions dictionary can't be used for spell checking :)

    Edit: But they should at least contain the same words by default. For example, the spell checker contains the nonexistent word "comprehendible", but the dictionary doesn't.
     
  13. alex_ant macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

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    #13
    A dictionary is different from a spell checker. A spell checker checks your spelling. It contains a lot of words that aren't and shouldn't be in the dictionary such as slang and colloquialisms and abbreviations etc., and it even lacks some words that shouldn't be in the spell checker but ARE in the dictionary. A dictionary is a reference tool, and is not authoritative - there are many different dictionaries by many different authors and publishers in many different specialities in many different languages and dialects and their contents are constantly changing, and the spelling of many words is different from title to title. Dictionaries and spellcheckers are just completely different things that should not be mixed and mingled.

    Microsoft couldn't use the Mac OS X spellchecker dictionary because it is not a proper dictionary. Hopefully they will start to use the new REAL dictionary present in Tiger, and hopefully the new Tiger dictionary will allow us to plug in dictionaries other than the Oxford ones. (Oxford, Webster's, Cambridge etc. are NOT the same.)
     
  14. RacerX macrumors 65832

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    #14
    That would definitely be nice for us users.

    And the one in MS Word is?

    We are talking about a spell checking engine and it's database... Why couldn't MS use the spell checking service?*



    *beyond the fact that they are currently making only Carbon apps.
     
  15. alex_ant macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

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    #15
    Because they are Microsoft, and that would be the right thing to do. Get it? ;)
     
  16. JDOG_ macrumors 6502a

    JDOG_

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    #16
    I do enjoy the fact Apple used Oxford for their dictionary needs, even if it's just the "American" version. The OED being the definitive dictionary for most endevors. :D
     

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