Re: ispell for Alpha (was Re: AbiSource, Ispell, Aspell and beyond...)

Subject: Re: ispell for Alpha (was Re: AbiSource, Ispell, Aspell and beyond...)
From: Paul Rohr (
Date: Fri Feb 25 2000 - 18:57:24 CST

At 12:28 PM 2/23/00 -0500, wrote:
>I am pretty frustrated at the code of ispell presently,
>given that I am debugging it.

My condolences. (And there are a number of other folks on this list who
know *exactly* what you must be going through.)

>I believe that "fixing" is not a clean approach. I'd
>rather clean the code and rid it of the endian and data
>size assumptions.

Oh, that'd be a *big* help.

>I should probably contact the ispell maintainers and
>find out what they think. Any suggestions/help/pointers?

Here's the official page for ispell:

By all means, introduce yourself to Geoff and explain what you're trying to
do (ie, making ispell more portable so existing dictionaries can work on
more and more platforms). Most people would agree that this is a Good
Thing, especially since you're willing to do the work. ;-) If you politely
ask specific questions, he'd probably be willing to help you out.

People tend to be pretty proud of their code when you praise them (and
defensive when you don't), so I'd be willing to bet he'd be tickled to
realize people are using ispell dictionaries for interactive spell checking
on so many platforms.

>I also see a bit of discussion going on about
>using ispell vs. aspell in AbiWord. Makes me wonder
>if the time I invest in cleaning up ispell would
>go a waste!!

Absolutely not. While other dictionary formats may have technical
advantages, the fact that there's already such a large number of
ispell-format dictionaries makes them *incredibly* useful.

For example, look at the very high level of overlap between languages
supported in AbiWord and ispell-format dictionaries:

  AbiWord only -- id
  AbiWord & ispell -- ca, cz, da, de, du, en-US, en-GB, es, fi, fr,
                      it, no, pl, pt-BR, pt-PT, sv
  ispell only -- el, eo, ro, ru, sl

Cleaning up the ispell code means that speakers of all those languages will
have at least one dictionary they can use. Now.

That's worth a lot.

>I would like to see spell checker as a
>user-configurable plug-in rather than a built-in. This
>will let people to choose any spell-checker along with
>its corresponding dictionaries (obvious, isn't it?)...
>but that's my $0.000002c worth opinion.

Sure. That'd be nice, too.

>An aside for all the folks that followed my gripes
>about warnings generated by gcc during compilation of
>AbiWord on Linux/Alpha: _These_ warnings were the red
>flags that let me quickly narrow down to problem areas
>in ispell code (Ofcourse this was not the first time in
>my coding experience that warnings pointed me to deeper
>problems in the code). So another proof of why compiler
>warnings are not "just warnings" and are not to be "ignored" :-)

Yep. That's an excellent example. Thanks.


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