I have never been a big fan of Microsoft Word’s grammar checker as it often misses subtle mistakes. When I was made aware of a new service which is supposed to be much better than the existing grammar checkers, I was of course excited. It’s called After the Deadline (ATD) ((You just have to love that name!)), and it is supposed to check spelling, grammar, and style. It makes use of artificial intelligence and natural language processing technology in order to give more accurate results. After the Deadline is an online web service running on a data center service provided by Automattic.
There are four ways by which you can use After the Deadline:
- In your browser: After the Deadline is available as a Firefox add-on and a Google Chrome extension. Now you can use our technology on any site.
- With your blog: For bloggers, After the Deadline is available as a WordPress plugin. You may also use our Intense Debate plugin to let your readers check their comments.
- On your site: Add our grammar, style, and spelling checker to your forms with our plugins for jQuery and TinyMCE. Our server technology is open source too.
- With OpenOffice.org Writer: Our grammar, style, and misused word checker is available as an OpenOffice.org extension.
Here is the promo video that tells you how it works.
I downloaded the Firefox add-on and the plugin has been installed here on FWJ. Do you want to know what ATD can really do for you? If the plugin is installed in your WordPress blog, you will see an icon (ABC with a green check mark) at the lower right of the editor. You can click on this to run a check. If there are mistakes, the icon will turn red. Alternatively, if you are using the Visual Editor, the same icon will be in the first row of buttons.
Here are two snippets from a real blog post.
See the red marks?
These are examples of misspelled words, officially unaccepted words, and proper nouns that are not included in ATD’s dictionary. Now here is an example of a subject-verb agreement mistake.
It also gives you suggestions as to how to correct the mistake. When you right-click on the underlined word or phrase, you will see options pop up.
Admittedly, ATD does not seem to offer much more than what existing grammar checkers already offer. Here’s a small challenge. Spot the errors, please.
This is what ATD gave me after running a check.
Do you guys agree?
I also wrote a few lines to check further, and I got the same result – no errors.
Europeans are starting to discover the Philippines as a premiere beach destination. While many haven’t had the chance to go their, the word seems to be spreading. The Philippines has some of the best beaches in the world, and the people are perhaps the friendliest as well. There culture is very rich, and they’re very open-minded.
I also tried several other mistakes such as a comma splice, and ATD still did not catch them.
Needless to say, I am feeling let down. I was genuinely excited about ATD. I am sure that you know just how useful a really good checker can be. In any case, I think that this plugin can still be useful but my experience with ATD supports what I have always held true: proofread your work. ((Additional note: I find it amusing that the checker marked ATD as incorrect.))
Why don’t you try it out, and let me know how it goes?