I usually avoid the initial release candidates of open source software, but Firefox just released their beta 2 candidate about a month ago. I finally got around to installing it this week and I have to say it’s not that mind-blowing. They’ve added cleaner RSS support, more intelligent tabs, and a number of features that mimic former plugins.
While I was test-driving this new toy I went to some new ajax-spiffy application and was completely blown away by their inline spell checker, until I realized that it’s a standard feature on the new Firefox:
Inline spell checking: A new built-in spell checker enables users to quickly check the spelling of text entered into Web forms (like this one) without having to use a seperate application.
It’s essentially the same spell checker that has existed in more serious writing applications (word processors, email clients, etc.) for years, with red dotted lines under misspelled words and right-click action to suggest correct spellings. It appears that the authors of the above quote were using a previous version of Firefox as the word “separate” is spelled incorrectly. Of course I only noticed this because it has red dots below it in my browser.
Most good social software currently support spell checking, but the inline version it isn’t the sort of task that can be done in real-time by a web app. It makes perfect sense that this sort of functionality would migrate to the browser, given the amount of general text editing that is happening now on the web. We’ve moved from a world of web browsing to one of web editing, and our tools for manipulating this environment will reflect this shift.
I can say that I’m pretty helpless without a spell checker, and I am usually too lazy to use online tools like spellcheck.net, so this will generally raise the bar of my online participation. Oh, and I won’t look like an idiot. As much.