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Ginger: smarter than the average spell checker

22 February 2013, Mike Williams

Everyone makes spelling mistakes from time to time, and if it’s just the occasional typo on an internet forum then most people aren’t going to care.

If you’re prone to more regular errors, though, even when you’re working on more important documents, then this could lead to problems. And that’s where Ginger comes in.

The program is a cloud-based spell checker which works with Office 2003, 2007 and 2010, as well as Firefox and IE (other options, including an Android app, are apparently coming soon). And unlike most of the competition, Ginger doesn’t just detect errors by checking individual words. It also looks at the context of the current sentence, and adapts itself accordingly.

Suppose you type “were are you?”, for example. There’s no spelling error here, but Ginger will recognise there’s an issue with context, and know that you really meant “where are you?”.

The program can detect missing words, too, spotting a missing “the” in “the dog chased cat”.

Fix every highlighted error with a click

Split words aren’t a problem, with “I went in side” becoming “I went inside”.

And in some cases you can watch this process at work, while you type. Enter the phrase “Juzt tipe sum words”, for instance, and Ginger will highlight the first two words, which it knows should be “Just type”. But if you then end the sentence with a full stop, it will also highlight “sum”, which although spelled correctly is clearly used out of context.

Whatever your errors happen to be, correcting them is very straightforward. There’s no need to work through the errors individually: just hover your mouse cursor over one of the highlighted words, and Ginger displays a pop-up alert containing what it believes to be the correct sentence. If you’re happy, clicking this will update your document immediately. And a second editing option allows you to delete some corrections, while keeping others.

Ginger also has a few issues. It really needs to cover a wider range of programs, for instance. The program is cloud based, so you need an internet connection for it to work. And it’s heavier on system resources than we expected. Apart from installing an Office addon, browser extensions and so on, it also adds a couple of background processes which grabbed around 90MB of RAM on our test system.

These aren’t critical problems, though, and on balance Ginger remains a capable and effective spell checker.

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