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Automatic Spelling Correction

A new feature to add to Chrome would be automatic spelling correction. In this feature, common misspelled words will be replaced immediately with the correct word, on the fly, while typing. For example, words such as "the" typed as "teh", "more" typed as "moer", will be replaced with "the" and "more" respectively.

A natural apprehension is that spellings can be auto corrected without the user wanting it to happen. In this particular implementation, the algorithm for changing the word is kept stringent, so that cases with ambiguity are not dealt with at all, thus reducing false positives. Further, this feature can be turned OFF for usage in text box which requires technical words not necessarily in the dictionary. Selective use of this feature will probably make daily browser activities, such as typing an email, a better and faster experience.

A somewhat detailed design is presented below.

Infrastructure Support

This would require adding support to Webkit. The TypingCommand class (TypingCommand.cpp) supports a method markMisspellingsAfterTyping. This takes a look at the selection that results after typing and determines whether spellcheck is required. This method will ask the markMisspellingsAfterTypingToPosition method in Editor (Editor.cpp) to provide the integer positions: firstMisspelledCharOffset and firstMisspelledCharCount. These positions will be required to generate the exact subrange within the Editor object which is to be replaced with the auto correct word after typing. Invariably, this would select the word immediately after typing and entering space, or other word breaking character (such as $, @, & etc for WebKit).

Once the subrange to replace has been determined, a new method in the editor client (editorclient.h and, called getAutoCorrectSuggestionForMisspelledWord, will be asked to provide the autocorrect word. If it can provide one, then replace the subrange with that word - otherwise, do nothing. Meanwhile, getAutoCorrectSuggestionForMisspelledWord will eventually ask the SpellChecker to provide it with the auto correct word, by using the WebViewDelegate from EditorClientImpl. All the threading issues are automatically taken care of by following the same path as that while determining whether a word is misspelled in the Editor.

Note that if this feature is turned off from the UI, the getAutoCorrectSuggestionForMisspelledWord will fast-return an empty string.

Auto correct word determination algorithm in SpellChecker

The autocorrection algorithm resides in the SpellChecker Object in method GetAutoCorrectWord. This method can contain a wide range of simple to sophisticated algorithms for auto spell check.

As a starter, I propose to use the simplest algorithm - that of swapping adjacent characters and checking to see if only one word is spelled correctly. This is a very common case, as we tend to often type in one character before the other while typing (at the very time of writing this sentence, I spelled "while" as "hwile"!). As an example, consider the word "more". Swapping adjacent characters would result in the following - "omre", "mroe", "moer", "more". Obviously, only "more" is not misspelled. So, if the user types "omre", "mroe" or "moer", it will be replaced with "more" as the auto suggest word.

As an anti-example, consider the (misspelled) word "noen". This will not be auto corrected, because swapping adjacent characters will result in "neon", as well as "none". Both are legitimate word - the user, thus, might have as well meant either.

Once this basic algorithm is in place, I will devote my time over the next few months to develop more sophisticated algorithms, with your help, to make this feature a coveted one, unseen in other browsers so far.

Chrome UI Support

For now, the only UI support required is the ability to turn this feature on/off. This can be done as a check box below the "Allow spellcheck" checkbox in Languages options menu. It can also appear in the sub context menu for spellcheck options in a text box.

Obviously, more UI support will be eventually required. For example, users might not want to have some words auto corrected - they can add those words from a context menu command - such as perhaps "Stop autocorrecting this word". Also, a UI element should appear below the autocorrected word when the cursor, or mouse, if moved over it, to convey to the user that autocorrection has been done.

Unit Testing

This infrastructure needs to have unit tests for the GetAutoCorrectWord method in SpellChecker.