About Spell Web Service

This page describes an embryonic Web Service called Spell. The purpose of the Service is to return alternative spellings to given words. Queries to the Service take the following form:


where FOO is a word to look up and BAR can be any one of the following values:

  • biological
  • earth
  • library
  • master (the default)
  • mathematics

Here are a number of sample queries, all of which will return raw XML:

Raw XML, while useful for computer to computer communication, is not very human readable. Furthermore, simply getting back a list of alternative spellings is not very useful. Hence, developers are encouraged to explore the possibility of integrating the Spell Web Service into their applications. Below are listed three possibilities:

  1. Simple client - Enter a word, select a dictionary, and a raw XML stream will be returned.
  2. Smart client - Same as the Simple client except the raw XML is transformed into HTML. (Source code)
  3. British Library catalogue search - Enter a word, and a query is passed on to the British Library catalogue. If no hits are returned, then your query is "spell checked". (Source code)

The source code for this service is available locally (spell.ockham.org/src/ockham-spell.tar.gz), or mirrored at Google Code (code.google.com/p/ockham-spell/).

Now, as a librarian, not only can I collect books, journals, and websites, but I can collect words as well. Fun!

Author: Eric Lease Morgan <emorgan@nd.edu>
Date created: 2005-09-20
Date updated: 2007-03-01
URL: http://spell.ockham.org/about/