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[aspell-announce] The New Aspell is Born

From: Kevin Atkinson
Subject: [aspell-announce] The New Aspell is Born
Date: Fri Nov 30 22:51:01 2001

The beginnings of the merge of Aspell and Pspell dubbed "The New Aspell"
is now available at  After
giving it some though I decided that to go with Aspell instead of
Pspell for the merged project.  In order to avoid confusion I will
always refer to the merge as "The New Aspell" until I am ready to
retire the existing versions of Aspell and Pspell.  All development of
the merge will take place on Savannah.  Currently the only thing there
are some mailing lists and a CVS archive of the project.  However as
time moves on more stuff will be added.  When "The New Aspell" is
considered to be in a working state and ready to replace the current
Aspell and Pspell the Sourceforge sites will cease to exist.  All
material at the Sourceforge site will be made available on Savannah in
one form are another.

"The New Aspell" is still in the very early stages.  What is in the
CVS archive will compile and run but has very limited usefulness.  It
is designed to let other developers interested in working with the new
Aspell something to work with.  Please do not attempt to use it any of
your programs as things are still subject to change.

In order to compile the New Aspell the following packages are required:
  perl (I use v5.6.0 but other versions may work)
  libtool (CVS version, HEAD branch)
  autoconf 2.50 or better
  automake 1.5 (earlier versions *might* work)
see the file README-CVS for instructions on how to build and use the
new Aspell.

As part of the name change from Pspell and Aspell the name of all the
functions and structures in changed in the Pspell interface from
pspell* to aspell*.  In addition I decided to rename the "manager"
class to "speller" as that is more descriptive of what that part of
Pspell does.  A backward compatibility header file will be provided
to provide source code compatibility with Pspell, but I have not
written it yet.

Some of the other changes made due to the merge:

* The part of Aspell that Pspell used is now included as a module of
  the new Aspell called speller-default.

* The current C++ interface for Pspell completely disappeared.  It
  will be replaced with a nicer C++ interface which will act as a
  wrapper for the C interface.

* A compromise has been made in terms of portability and advanced C++
  usage.  Templates, the Standard Template Library, and namespaces are
  now used freely however C++ exceptions are not.  I hope to make the
  new Aspell as portability as possibly however I do not wish to work
  in the dark ages of C++ like the Mozilla project and AbiWord insist
  upon doing.  Portability patches will gladly be excepted provided
  that they don't do anything really nasty.  I will try to stay away
  from doing evil things with templates, but I am not willing to
  quantify what exactly this means.  I will simply play it my ear.

* The current Aspell utility as you now it is gone.  In its place will
  be a more generic utility which will provide the same basic
  functionality but work with any speller checker in which a the new
  Aspell module has been written.  However, this utility has yet to be
  written.  For right now two programs are available.  aspell0 which
  is a slightly modified version of the example program distributed with
  Pspell and speller-util which is a skimmed down version of the
  original Aspell utility which is mainly used for managing

* A good deal of the interface code is now being automatically
  generated by a Perl script.  I am doing it this way to avoid having
  to write a lot of relative code for the C++ interface.  This should
  also make adding interface for other languages a lot less tedious
  and will allow the interface to automatically take advantage of
  new Aspell functionality as it is made available.

Some of the changed planned for the new Aspell:

* The English dictionary will no longer be included with
  Aspell. Instead it will be part of the Aspell-dicts package.
  Currently it is included in the CVS version for simplicity however it
  will eventually be removed.

* The manuals will be switched over from LyX/LaTeX to LyX/DocBook so
  that in can easily be converted to other formats such as info and

* The new Aspell's web site will be assuming I can still
  get the domain name.

The new Aspell *may* become part of the GNU project.  I am not 100%
sure I want to deal with all of the strings attached with doing so.
In particular I prefer using the term Open Source instead of Free
Software because I thing the former is clearer however the FSF seams
to have a real problem with it.  I also really do not fell like having
to write GNU/Linux instead of just Linux every time I refer to that
operating system.  I agree with 90% of the FSF views but do not want
to have to promote the other 10% I do not agree with.  My current plan
is to proceeded with the The New Aspell as a non-GNU project hosted on
Savannah and hope my project becomes a valuable enough resource that
some one will approach me about making the new Aspell part of the GNU
project.  By doing it that way things are slightly in my favor as far
as what I am allowed to do.

I think I have said quite enough for now.  All discussion on about the
new Aspell should be directed to
address@hidden  Unless it is something
personal please send email to the list rather than to me directly so
that others can benefit from our discussion.

Future posting concerning the new Aspell will be posted to
address@hidden with only major ones going
to the the announcement lists on Sourceforge so please subscribe
yourself to this list if you are interested in following the
development for the new Aspell.

Information on how to subscribe to both of these lists can be found
off of the new Aspell project page.

Kevin Atkinson
Aspell Maintainer

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