Some editors can even spell | Bangkok Post: tech

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Some editors can even spell

Had enough of Word and Notepad? Here's the program for you

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One of our subeditors here at the centre of human Life came up with one complaint and one request that resulted in satisfaction all around. The complaint was that using a word processor like Microsoft Word just to write stories and notes was clumsy, and ultimately slowed her down. But she wasn't aware of a decent text editor that had a spellchecker. 

To test DocPad’s spelling, we gave it a list of words with both American and British spellings, and the software was perfectly biased to the British system we preferred.

Now, these days, a lot of writing is done with the thumbs or the horrible keyboards on tablets, but in an office, say _ where the stunningly gorgeous Life is located _ keyboards and big screens are still the order of the day, and PC software is still a major issue. Plus old people.

A text editor is superior to a word processor for everything except beautiful output. Any decent editor, even Notepad, takes milliseconds to load and save, but it allows only one display font, with no special formatting, headlines, boldface and the like.

Well, the search for the perfect text editor has been under way for 33 years, since the first IBM personal computer hit the market.

The best of them ultimately turn out like men _ even the super-terrific ones have a flaw, like not realising after 20 years that dirty clothes go in the dirty-clothes basket, not on the floor.

I'm getting darned close though. On the human side, I've got a spouse about as close to perfect as they get. On the digital side, too, I've come up with a new favourite editor that isn't quite perfect but is a lot closer than most of them.

DocPad actually dates back 10 years, but only recently has it acquired the speed, smarts and brilliancy that now make it my favourite new program of the year.

The program comes in a compact installation package, and works on any Windows computer of the 21st century. It has pretty well every feature you could expect in a souped-up Notepad, from bookmarking and quick conversion of upper-lower case to personalised macros and programming type facilities like indenting of entire blocks.

Of course lots of editors do some or all of that, and our subeditor was pretty specific about the one feature she needed more than anything else.

DocPad's home page says specifically the program has a spellchecker, so one of the first things I did after installation was call up a document and clicked the big, clear spell checking icon that comes on the customisable toolbar.

The first time, a message popped up saying that I didn't have the spellchecker, and offering to go back to the program's website to fetch it. Which, in short order, it did. Now a click on the icon started up an excellent, simple and complete spellchecker, all ready to go. Almost.

DocPad, you see, speaks English three ways _ the British way like we spell at Life, the US way that is catching on in many places, and the Canadian way, eh? A quick trip to the Configuration sub-menu through the Interface function, and not only was I spellchecking, I was spellchecking with a program where "colour" and "whisky" and "cheque" were correct spellings, a rare feat in these days of American-centric programs.

I mentioned a problem with DocPad that leaves it just this short of perfect so far. It only handles one file at a time. Okay, this is opinion, not fact, but in 2013 a terrific program that handles only one document at a time is a little short of perfection.

Still, I will be getting a huge amount of use from this nice-looking program in coming months, and possibly years.

DocPad and the spellchecker are two free programs from the generous programmers at Gammadyne Corp, which lives physically near Kansas City, Kansas, in America. All the more credit, then, for having a "British" spellchecker.

The company lives virtually at (www.gammadyne.com), and the direct route to DocPad information and download is on the main web page.

Now, as the great Abraham Lincoln noted, no program is suitable for all of the people, all of the the time. Inevitably, a few people will give a huge, phat "fooey" to DocPad _ such as, say, those who need an editor that loads more than one document at a time.

The best I found on my latest quest is AEdit.

This program, from Italy, also goes back several years, but has recently got much better. It has many of the features of DocPad, and adds a few wrinkles of its own.

It handles multiple files at once, has built-in file encryption to harass President Obama and the NSA, and has an excellent spellchecker which, however speaks American and British.

This is a feature for some, a disaster for, well, me. We don't spell it "color" around here, and for me, a good spell-checker will flag that word as wrong, while allowing "colour" as a correct word.

Again, a million people will have thousands of different needs and opinions, but AEdit, for many, would be a brilliant text editor, fast as lightning and better than Notepad in the sense that a khao thom buffet is better than a stale cheese sandwich. For AEdit, download the "with spellcheck" version at goo.gl/At4LI.


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