Re: What a wast of time!

Subject: Re: What a wast of time!
From: Tim Allen (
Date: Thu Sep 07 2000 - 22:13:26 CDT


AbiWord spell checking has a long and tortuous history; if you have a browse
through past mailing list archives (eg last Feb and March) you'll probably get
a better understanding of why it's ending up in most people's too-hard basket
for the time being.

The current ispell system is known to be a mess, so it's not too much of a
shock to discover it doesn't always work. The ispell code is reputedly quite
horrible, and a replacement is required. Kevin Atkinson, the author of aspell
(the main contender to replace ispell) has been working on a new
spell-checking library, pspell. Not sure where he's up to with it; he posted
some comments about it a while ago and didn't get much response.

You've obviously gone into this quite a bit, so it seems like you're well
placed to actually start doing something about this (ie either making some
sense of the ispell mess, or implementing something else). This issue may not
currently be at the top of many other people's list of urgent things to do,
but that certainly doesn't mean anyone is going to refuse your patches if you
send them! This is free software; people work on what is important to them. If
spell checking is important to you, then by all means work on it. If other
people have different priorities, there's not all that much point complaining
about that fact.

On Thu, 07 Sep 2000 02:34:45 James Alan Brown wrote:
> I am somewhat surprised at the total lack of help or response to my emails
> regarding problems with the spell checker on AbiWord.

I've also been a little surprised at the lack of response, but things have
been fairly quiet for a while. Partly it's because of the virtual code-freeze,
waiting for the 0.7.11 release, partly it's because the Sourcegear people
have become less active. But whatever the reason, it's hard to criticize
people for decisions they make about how to spend their own time, for which
they are not being paid.

> I have spent the last 2 days working hard trying to resolve the issue of
> not being able to use any British hash table in AbiWord on SuSE Linux.
> The many other things although needed and nice are not core components like
> a working spell checker (unless your in the USA and don't have a problem)!

Indeed. Everyone has their own idea about what's urgent and/or important.
That's why it's important to get a variety of people involved in the project.

> It is also very clear to me that your ispell hack is a total mess and is in
> need of sorting out by someone, and with a far greater speed, if you intend
> this package to replace or offer any real alternative.

Yes, this is evidently true. You would seem to be a good candidate.

> AbiWord has some great features and looks to have potential but unless you
> get your act together quite quickly and help others, who are after all
> giving their free time, to try to correct problems. ( I am self employed
> but was happy to spend whatever free time in helping work on this project)!
> Sadly not any more!

Presumably you realise that almost everyone else involved here is in exactly
the same position, freely giving of their time without compensation.

> I expected at least some answers to my basic questions and some help in how
> to resolve them.

This probably means no-one currently active in the project knows the answers.
Which means the source code is all you have to go on.

> Surly this is an important issue? Maybe your all to dam worried and
> concerned about "Smart Quotes and how to suck up to Gnome than spell

Well, if someone else wants to freely give up their own time and devote it
to, for example, sucking up to Gnome, let them, it's their time, they can
do with it what they will. If you want to suggest it would be more
productive doing something else, then calm debate is the way to do it.

> As an organised Programming group (It sucks)!

Organised? By whom? Herding Cats is the usual metaphor :-).

> Ok I guess that I will now spend the next 3 months or so removing all
> references to AbiWord on my version, junk the spelling checker and write my
> own and put up my own GPL word processor.
> I have un-subscribed from this group so if you wish to comment the your
> have to email me direct.

I hope your state of feeling pissed off will soon pass, and you'll be able
to contribute to Abiword. But if not, that's entirely up to you, and
no-one should criticize your decision.

> James
> JAB Computers Bristol UK


Tim Allen   

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