Because I’m gearing up to look at researching automatic proofreading software, I’ve been looking at existing papers and products out there. I still use After the Deadline in WordPress and sometimes it offers helpful suggestions.
Today I’ll briefly review Grammarian Pro X (OS X only). Again I have to thank Praveen for forwarding neato stuff like this. The idea of Grammarian Pro X is that it augments the core spelling/grammar checking in OS X. While working, you get an extra menu bar to control it for a given application.
In my short experience (it’s a time-limited demo), I found that it had a lot of interesting options. The downside is that the software doesn’t really give you a sense of its boundaries. I had no idea what sorts of things it would do, and found that it would auto-delete Christmas if I used a lowercase c. I’d expect it to just uppercase it but it deleted it (maybe I type too fast? That happens to me with some software).
One of the really nice features is that it plays sound warnings when it detects an error. The first time this happened it scared the crap outta me. Then I looked around in the settings and couldn’t find any sort of volume control. Even still, I think this has potential. However, the benefit doesn’t come until after the learning curve.
Another interesting feature of the software is that it has different “collections” of spelling/grammar rules. There’s a different set for blogs, emails, or academic writing. It’s a neat feature and it’s somewhat related to my thesis work in style adaptation.
The installation was a pain in the butt. I had to log out and back in again. Then I had to change something in my system preferences. I can sympathize that hooking into the core spell checking might be difficult, but it’s a huge hassle for the user.
In summary, Grammarian Pro X seems like it has a lot of potential. Unfortunately, from only two or three days of usage (out of the thirty for the trial) I didn’t get a good feel for the full potential of an expert user. The learning curve seems fairly steep, and I get the sense that it might be great once you’re used to it and customize it. The major drawback is that it’s $40. As a grad student, I’d be willing to pay maybe $5 for major version releases with free upgrades for minor versions. When I move on to a (hopefully) better job, I’d be willing to try it more seriously.