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6. Writing programs to use Aspell next up previous contents
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6. Writing programs to use Aspell

There are two main ways to use aspell from within your application. Through the Pspell API or though a pipe. The Aspell API can be used directly but that is not recommended as the actual Aspell API is constantly changing.

6.1 Though the Pspell API

To use Aspell through the Pspell API please see the Pspell manual.

6.1.1 Notes About Thread Safety

Read-only Aspell methods and functions should be thread safe as long as exceptions, new, delete, delete[], and STL allocators are thread safe. To the best of my knowledge gcc and egcs meet these requirements. It is up to the programmer to make sure multiple threads do not do thing such as change the dictionaries and add or delete items from the personal or session dictionaries.

6.2 Through A Pipe

When given the pipe or -a command aspell goes into a pipe mode that is compatible with ``ispell -a''. Aspell also defines its own set of extensions to ispell pipe mode.

6.2.1 Format of the Data Stream

In this mode, Aspell prints a one-line version identification message, and then begins reading lines of input. For each input line, a single line is written to the standard output for each word checked for spelling on the line. If the word was found in the main dictionary, or your personal dictionary, then the line contains only a '*'.

If the word is not in the dictionary, but there are suggestions, then the line contains an '&', a space, the misspelled word, a space, the number of near misses, the number of characters between the beginning of the line and the beginning of the misspelled word, a colon, another space, and a list of the suggestions separated by commas and spaces.

Finally, if the word does not appear in the dictionary, and there are no suggestions, then the line contains a '#', a space, the misspelled word, a space, and the character offset from the beginning of the line. Each sentence of text input is terminated with an additional blank line, indicating that ispell has completed processing the input line.

These output lines can be summarized as follows:

& «original» «count» «offset»: «miss», «miss», ...
# «original» «offset»
When in the -a mode, Aspell will also accept lines of single words prefixed with any of '*', '&', '@', '+', '-', '~', '#', '!', '%', or '^'. A line starting with '*' tells ispell to insert the word into the user's dictionary. A line starting with '&' tells ispell to insert an all-lowercase version of the word into the user's dictionary. A line starting with '@' causes ispell to accept this word in the future. A line starting with '+', followed immediately by a valid mode will cause aspell to parse future input according the syntax of that formatter. A line consisting solely of a '+' will place ispell in TEX/LATEX mode (similar to the -t option) and '-' returns aspell to its default mode (but these commands are obsolete). A line '~', is ignored for ispell compatibility. A line prefixed with '#' will cause the personal dictionaries to be saved. A line prefixed with '!' will turn on terse mode (see below), and a line prefixed with '%' will return ispell to normal (non-terse) mode. Any input following the prefix characters '+', '-', '#', '!', '~', or '%' is ignored, as is any input following. To allow spell-checking of lines beginning with these characters, a line starting with '^' has that character removed before it is passed to the spell-checking code. It is recommended that programmatic interfaces prefix every data line with an uparrow to protect themselves against future changes in Aspell.

To summarize these:

Add a word to the personal dictionary
Insert the all-lowercase version of the word in the personal dictionary
Accept the word, but leave it out of the dictionary
Save the current personal dictionary
Ignored for ispell compatibility.
Enter TEX mode.
Enter the mode specified by «mode».
Enter the default mode.
Enter terse mode
Exit terse mode
Spell-check the rest of the line
In terse mode, Aspell will not print lines beginning with '*', which indicate correct words. This significantly improves running speed when the driving program is going to ignore correct words anyway.

In addition to the above commands which are designed for Ispell compatibility Aspell also supports its own extension. All Aspell extensions follow the following format.

$$«command» [data]
Where data may or may not be required depending on the particular command. Aspell currently supports the following command.

cs «option»,«value»
Change a configuration option.
cr «option»
Prints the value of a configuration option.
s «word1»,«word2»
Returns the score of the two words based roughly on how aspell would score them.
Sw «word»
Returns the soundlike equivalent of the word.
Sl «word»
Returns a list of words that have the same soundlike equivalent.
Pw «word»
Returns the phoneme equivalent of the word.
Returns a list of all words in the current personal wordlist.
Returns a list of all words in the current session dictionary.
Returns the current language name.
ra «mis»,«cor»
Add the word pair to the replacement dictionary for latter use. Returns nothing.
Anything returned is returned on its own line line. All lists returned have the following format

«num of items»: «item1», «item2», «etc»
(Part of the preceding section was directly copied out of the Ispell manual)

6.3 Notes of Storing Replacement Pairs

As of version .27 of Aspell storing replacements pairs has a memory. Which means if you first store the replacement pair:

sicolagest -> psycolagest
then store the replacement pair

psycolagest -> psychologist
The replacement pair

sicolagest -> psychologist
will also get stored so that you don't have to worry about it.

next up previous contents
Next: 7. Adding Support For Up: Aspell .33.7.1 alpha A Previous: 5. Customizing Aspell   Contents
Kevin Atkinson 2001-08-19