Monday, September 03, 2007

Changing Windows Live Writer Dictionaries

So much free time on a holiday weekend....

So much Net to surf....

So many links to pass on....

Found this while researching another highly unrelated post.  Funny how that happens with me.

What do you do if you like Windows Live Writer but say, your sensibilities with the Queen's English conflicts with that of our Stateside vernacular?

Or maybe you would prefer the dictionary of another language entirely?  Say German?

The Tip

Just swap em out.

The Tip Offs

Graham Chastney (oak-grove): Windows Live Writer Dictionary - Hack

Using British English spelling in Windows Live Writer « Getting IT right

Peruse the comments under both posts as well for a few more details.

How To

1)  Basically you download the replacement dictionary zip file you want first.

2)  Next unpack it into its two .clx and .tlx file components.

3)  Browse to the location where the current Windows Live Writer dictionary files are kept in the Program Files folder:

  • C:\Program Files\Windows Live Writer\Dictionaries\
  • Note 1: This location is likely to change when the new version gets released.

4)  Rename the current dictionary files by appending them as ssceam2.clx.old and ssceam.tlx.old

  • Note 2: Your dictionary filenames may differ slightly if you are running an older/newer beta version of Windows Live Writer.

5)  Copy the new ones you unzipped into the same location and rename them (if needed) to match the same names of each of the ones you changed in the step above.  It appears the names must match that of the old ones for the Windows Live Writer application to find them successfully due to the coding calls.

Interesting Details

Graham helpfully pointed out in the comments section a list of the names of several other language dictionary file-sets that could be used in place of the US English ones.  He also offered a direct-download link in his post for the British Queen's English file version he used.

I'm not sure why Graham was unable to offer the commenter any direct information on where to find the other foreign language files mentioned.  He must have forgotten to bookmark it.  Happens to me from time to time.

But I was curious. Although the direct-download file provided in the link seems legit, I wanted to know a bit more about it if at all possible.

So I did some some searches on Google and quickly found a number of posts where users who had come across this tip were seeming to be downloading the same British dictionary file from the same source that Graham used in his post.

Turns out, the file many folks seem to be directly linking to comes from within this March 2003 post: CityDesk - Build an Employee Directory.  FYI Fog Creek Software's CityDesk program which can use the same British language dictionaries is a web-page content-management applications for Windows.They even offer a Free Download for a starter edition version.

Very interesting...but while that location did have a WLW compatible British one, what about availability for the other language files that were mentioned?

The search was still on.

Using the filename of the primary dictionary file in my Windows Live Writer installation, "ssceam2.clx" I did some more work on Google.  Using that filename to help me narrow my search for "loading foreign language dictionaries", I was eventually able to locate an alternative location on a software vendor's troubleshooting page that discussed these dictionary files in the context of their own software product and which provided a link to their own support-page for direct download of all the language files at that location.

Same Supplier Source?

There these dictionary files were described as being from the Sentry Spell Checking Engine from WinterTree Software, Inc.

WinterTree Software, Inc. is a company out of Nepean, Ontario, Canada that provides an extensive list of language tools and dictionaries for a multitude of platforms.

While engaged in Google, I found a number of applications that seemed to reference use of their language files including iMail Server, Adobe Macromedia FreeHand, and even Cisco's E-Mail Manager. So the dictionary files used by Windows Live Writer seem to be very widespread in their inclusion in other software vendor's applications that use built-in spelling checking tools.  Looks like WinterTree provides a pretty versatile and well-regarded product; lucky us for our Canadian neighbors due North!

A Tale of Two Filesets

When I compared the files located in the zip file bandied about the Net from Fog Creek in these posts with the ones at the alternative source I located (which I temporarily downloaded for investigative purposes of this post, then deleted from my system), the file names inside the zip files were the same, but the sizes were slightly off.

Also, the ones from the alternative location I found were at least a year older than those in the ZIP file from the Fog Creek source; but still not what I would consider "current" by any means.

The User's Custom Dictionary File

These "default" dictionary files used by Windows Live Writer are stored apart from the user's own "custom" dictionary of words they have added themselves to Windows Live Writer.

On a Vista installation of Windows Live Writer, the user's self-created custom dictionary file is being stored in the following location: C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Roaming\Windows Live Writer\Dictionaries\userdic.tlx

I don't have a XP system at hand at the moment, but suspect on that OS it would be located in someplace like the C:\Documents and Settings\{username}\Application Data\Windows Live Writer\Dictionaries\ folder. 

Final Thoughts

I haven't swapped out my language files in Windows Live Writer as I am quite happy speaking (writing) in Texan-American English and not the Queen's brand of English.

If I were to, however, need an alternative language or technical dictionary set, I would probably go with the newer ones myself that I had managed to locate (were I to also have a EULA-qualifying program from that software company).

Is Microsoft using WinterTree Software dictionary files for Windows Live Writer?  I don't know.  I suspect so and am sure they paid good $$$ for the distribution/inclusion rights.

Joe Cheng, a Microsoft software developer on the Windows Live Writer team (see his whateverblog) posted the following comment on Adam Vero's blog post in response to Adam's question why he couldn't just use the custom dictionary he has already build in MS Word.

We’re well aware of the pain for others to have to use US dictionaries only. We’ll be adding more dictionaries, including UK English, before Windows Live Writer exits beta–though we’ll still be far from catching up with Word (and there are internal reasons why we cannot currently use their proofing technology).

Joe's comment gives hope that the Windows Live Writer team will produce "localized" versions for other languages so this "dictionary work-around" won't need to be continued down the road.

Especially considering, none of the Windows Live Writer Extensions in the Windows Live Gallery offer alternative "dictionary" support methods.

I can't imagine there is a wide-spread need for these foreign dictionary files for Windows Live Writer or this "hack" and we do have direct word that the WLW team will be offering "localized" language dictionary versions of WLW post-beta.  So this post won't probably apply to many folks. 

However, in the meantime, this might be a useful "hack" to keep in mind for those few.


1 comment:

AdamV said...

Thanks for doing this extra bit of work to find more background information about the dictionary files.
I've now downloaded Beta 3 and will post an updated version of the article about swapping the dictionaries here: