Improve our spell checker offering on Mac

Ehsan Akhgari ehsan.akhgari at
Wed Dec 28 23:58:41 UTC 2016

On Sat, Dec 24, 2016 at 10:57 AM, Tim Guan-tin Chien <timdream at>

> On Sat, Dec 24, 2016 at 9:33 PM, Ehsan Akhgari <ehsan.akhgari at>
> wrote:
> > The spelling suggestions between different spelling engines will almost
> > definitely always differ. However with the example below it is unclear
> to me
> > which suggestion is better, since the typed word barely resembles either
> of
> > the two suggestions. It also depends on the words you include in the
> > dictionary. For example we exclude rare English words from the dictionary
> > because they're much less likely to be used in real text and it would
> serve
> > as a bad suggestion for a misspelled word.
> I would agree it's a hard problem. That's why I am asking for better
> user insight into this (instead of rely my guy feeling, or yours).

Can you please an example of what you would like to see?  I still don't
understand what you're proposing.  It looks like we both agree we shouldn't
make decisions on the spell checker *engine* based on the quality of
suggestions for one word in the English dictionary.

> > Another point to consider is the breadth of different languages
> supported. I
> > don't know how many languages OSX supports for spell checking but I
> wouldn't
> > be surprised if that's a subset of the languages we support.
> That's indeed being mentioned on the original bug.
> I would argue that we should at least offer OSX spell as a pref-able
> user choice, given how hard it would be to build that as an add-on.

The current spell checker module doesn't do a great job at abstracting away
the spell checking backend details, although we try to a bit (see
mozISpellCheckingEngine for the current backend abstraction.)  We also
don't support more than one engine, so supporting the Apple spell checking
backend is probably going to be a significant amount of work (I don't know
anything about the programmatic API that Apple provides and how hard that
is to use for us, I'm assuming that part is sufficiently straightforward
with a quick look at

I'm still unconvinced that supporting this for the purpose of spell
checking is meaningfully better or worse than what we currently have,
ignoring the issue of the languages that Apple doesn't support.  However I
think this would be interesting if we wanted to use the grammar checking

This all being said, the current spell checking module is almost
unmaintained, so realistically I don't expect any work to be done here for
the lack of human power if not anything else.  :(

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