Jacuba is a new service that brings spell checking right to your site or your browser and amazingly does not even require you to download, install, or register anything. “Probably the best spellchecker on the web” is what Jacuba’s site slogan reads and after using it for a while, I agree with them. Jacuba is a service that allows you to add a spellchecker to any text area on a site that you visit and give you the ability to correct the spelling, look up words in a dictionary, and even will allow you to make a list of words that do not exist in their dictionary so they don’t come up as spelling errors for you.
This is not just a normal spellchecking script that you insert into your site. You can use it on any form through your browser on any site with the use of the browser favlets (also known as Bookmarklets). This favlet is available for Firefox, Mozilla, and Windows Internet Explorer and when using it, it will turn any text area on the current page you are viewing to a Jacuba Spellchecker. If you are a WordPress user, you can probably tell what form I am in above (the Write a Post form). Notice how I can check my spelling? That is because I selected the Jacuba bookmarklet and it changed the text area to the Jacuba Spellchecker. It works for pretty much any text area on a site and is very easy to use. Say you are at a forum, writing a blog, or simply filling in an online form. Just turn on Jacuba and never worry about spelling mistakes again.
As you enter words into a text area with Jacuba on, it will use Ajax technology to check it with their dictionary of words. If you spell a word wrong, it will underline it with a red squiggly line, much like what you would see in a word processor like Microsoft Word. You can see this in the screenshot above with a few words that I have entered. When a word comes up spelt wrong, simply right click on it and you will get a listing of spelling suggestions. You can then select the correct spelling from the list to replace the incorrect spelling. If you don’t want to right click each individual word, you can simply click on the “Spelling” link that appears along with the Jacuba bar when you click inside of the text area (you can see this in the above screenshot). When you click on this link, the Spelling window will pop-up and then allow you to go through each individual word that it finds to be incorrect. Now, lets take a look at the Jacuba bar again that appears when inside of a text area and you will see the link, “Dictionary” on the right of the “Spelling” link.
I use dictionaries a lot when writing and usually looking up a word would involve me going to Dictionary.com and searching for the definition of a word. Now I don’t have to because Jacuba actually has a built in dictionary to search words with. When you click on the “Dictionary” link on the Jacuba bar, it will open a new window with their own, well layed out, dictionary. When you open the dictionary, you will immediately see at the top, “History.” This will show you the last words that you have searched the dictionary for. How does it remember what you have searched? It remembers simply by storing each word in a cookie shared on the Jacuba webserver. They use the same method to store your saved words as I mentioned earlier. Below the history is the search field. Type in a word and you will get your results. Under the search field you will see checkboxes. Checking and unchecking these will allow you to narrow down on what you are looking for in the definitions, such as examples, synonyms, antonyms, etc.. It works great and the definitions seem to be accurate when comparing to other dictionaries. Here is a little hint for you: If you want to find a definition for a word quickly that is already typed out, you can simply select the word, right click it, and then select, “Dictionary…” It will then bring up the popup and search for you. I really like the dictionary.
Jacuba works great and is extremely easy to use. If you want to add the spellchecker to your website for everyone to see, you can easily include it in your page with a matter of literally two lines of code. See the HTML help document for more details on adding it to your site. I did see two problems with Jacuba though. First, when selecting a few sentences and pasting it into a text area, it will work fine and show the incorrect spellings. But when I would select atleast a 10-15 sentence paragraph, it would get glitchy on me and not show incorrect spellings or suggestions. Is this just me or does it happen for you too? The next problem I saw isn’t actually an issue, bug, or anything of the sort. I just want to know… what about Safari! I mentioned Jacuba to my brother, whom uses a Mac, and really wanted to give it a try… until I told him it only works for Firefox, IE, and Mozilla. As you probably know, Mac users love their Safari browser. Would it be hard to get Safari support? Also, for you Flock users out there. No, it does not work in Flock, but I don’t find this as a major concern as Flock is still very new. The form styles do change, but there isn’t any functionality. Besides these minor drawbacks, the support with Firefox, Mozilla, and Internet Explorer is great and the Jacuba team did an excellent job. Everything runs very smoothly, results are good, and this is one of the most useful tools I have seen in a long time. I am excited to start using this with my everyday emails, comments, postings, etc.. Well done.