Road to Mac OS X Leopard: Dictionary 2.0

Posted:
in macOS edited January 2014
Apple has significantly updated Dictionary 2.0 for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, expanding it from a simple word lookup into a complete multilingual reference tool. Here's a look at what's new in Dictionary.



Mac OS X is based on NeXTSTEP, the operating system Steve Jobs left Apple to develop back in 1986, and brought back in 1997. Nearly twenty years ago, NeXTSTEP included a "Digital Librarian" application designed to browse and hyperlink together the information in digital books. Included with the system were the complete works of Shakespeare, The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, and Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Thesaurus.



Over the last two decades, NeXTSTEP sparked the development of the World Wide Web at CERN, which brought similar hyperlinked information to more mainstream computers. The RoughlyDrafted article "Safari on Windows? Apple and the Origins of the Web" described how Apple's HyperCard and Tim Berners-Lee's WWW for NeXT computers built the foundations of the open web on the Internet.



In Mac OS X Tiger, Apple reintroduced Dictionary as a system wide service. Right click on a word, and the "Look up in Dictionary" contextual menu will open the Dictionary application and present the word's listing. Control+Apple+D can also be used to look up an entry for a selected word.



NeXTSTEP included a "Digital Librarian".



The Dictionary application can also search for words directly, either by entering whole words into the search bar or by just typing the first few letters. This makes it easy to look up a word's spelling when the built-in spell checking service can't suggest an alternative to the badly typed word which was entered. Tiger also offers a Dictionary widget for Dashboard. Both the widget and the full blown application draw from the New Oxford American Dictionary and the Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus.



New Features in Leopard



Leopard's Dictionary 2.0 adds a Digital Librarian-like function for adding new reference works. Apple includes a new dictionary of its own marketing terms, including Rosetta, Quartz, and Exposé, although it doesn't offer to define many terms outside of product names. It also doesn't offer anything for terms such as Carbon, Darwin, or Core Graphics. Perhaps Apple should throw in a developer dictionary that might be more useful than its definitions of Cover Flow and MacBook. The Apple Dictionary also includes some oddly outdated terms such as Open Transport and A/UX.



Also included in the new Dictionary are a set of Japanese references, including the Shogakukan Daijisen Japanese dictionary, the Japanese thesaurus Shogakukan Ruigo Reikai Jiten, and the Shogakukan Progressive English-Japanese Japanese-English Dictionary. These are off by default, but can be enabled in preferences.







Preferences also allows users to set the English dictionary pronunciation guides to use common diacritical (?d???kritik?l) or the more formal IPA style (??da????kr?d?k?l), and to set the right click "Look up in Dictionary" function to launch the Dictionary app or to pop up a small contextual panel window (below). This feature is unchanged from Tiger.







Big in Japan



Once enabled, the new Japanese references appear in the Dictionary window bar. Results for a word can be isolated to a specific reference, or looked up in all enabled dictionaries at once. The Japanese dictionary gives a simple definition, while the Japanese-English dictionary provides translations for a variety of idiomatic expressions.











Wiki Wikipedia



Japanese isn't the only expansion of the Dictionary application. It also now offers to do an instantaneous online lookup of words and phrases using Wikipedia. Since Wikipedia can return results on articles in a variety of languages, the new Dictionary allows you to select which language results to view.







Linking the dictionary with Wikipedia is smart, because many technical terms and cultural references have extensive community-created articles that would never appear in a formal dictionary. Dictionary 2.0 displays the full text, graphics, and diagrams of Wikipedia articles, although it uses a serif font for all references. That means it doesn't look like the web version of Wikipedia, but rather like a more formal work.



The default 16 point text seems a little large for reading long articles in Wikipedia, but selecting a smaller font from the text size buttons of Dictionary's Toolbar nearly makes it too small. Since it uses a delicate font face (which appears to be Baskerville), it begins to look thin and washed out at smaller typefaces. The default font size can be set in preferences, but not the font face. That leaves Dictionary results looking distinctive and sophisticated, even if you'd personally rather camp up your Wikipedia with Comic Sans or Marker Felt.







Links Everywhere



While Wikipedia is rife with links already, Dictionary makes every word hyperlinked, as it does throughout the standard dictionary and thesaurus. That means any word that gets clicked upon pulls up its definition, synonyms, and a new Wikipedia article (if one exists). This makes Dictionary an excellent resource for quickly spelunking around the English language, or in Japanese, or wading through one of the many other languages in Wikipedia.



While individual dictionary files in Tiger were just a big blob of a file saved under Library/Dictionaries, Leopard organizes them into exposed folders of graphics, xml, and css that suggest it would be simple to develop and distribute new specialized glossaries and reference works in other languages for use in Dictionary.



Will Dictionary eventually incorporate product manuals and Unix man pages the way NeXT's Digital Librarian did? Will it open up the ability to tap into other online reference works in a manner similar to Wikipedia? There's certainly room for growth, but Leopard's Dictionary already delivers a lot of practical innovation in the rather sleepy corner of library reference works.



Parents might feel there's too much information available in Dictionary 2.0; the new Parental Controls feature in System Preferences allows you to block access to profanity, which includes "slang or colorful expletives." Dictionary's help pages note that "terms are identified as inappropriate by the publisher of a source."







Dictionary 2.0 gets in the last word for Mac OS X Leopard. So when will it make it to the iPhone?
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 58
    This sounds pretty nice. Just wish they would install an English-Japanese dictionary that would help foreigners learning Japanese.
  • Reply 2 of 58
    mrtotesmrtotes Posts: 759member
    As a complete spanner when it come to spelling Tiger and Dictionary 1.0 has been a great use to me.



    I just hope it offers more realistic British English rather than the kind of British English Americans think we use.



    i.e. utilize is spelt with an ...ize in UK English; but Tiger tries to correct to ...ise
  • Reply 3 of 58
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Hey check out that Next dock. Looks better than the Leopard one.
  • Reply 4 of 58
    mdcatmdcat Posts: 79member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mrtotes View Post


    As a complete spanner when it come to spelling Tiger and Dictionary 1.0 has been a great use to me.



    I just hope it offers more realistic British English rather than the kind of British English Americans think we use.



    i.e. utilize is spelt with an ...ize in UK English; but Tiger tries to correct to ...ise



    But what about words like "spanner" which we don't use in the US, either to mean "novice" or "wrench" (the tool)? :-)
  • Reply 5 of 58
    Profanity blocking was already in Tiger; is it not?



    I think the new thing for Leopard is profanity blocking in MCX. So schools with client management can finally take advantage of it.
  • Reply 6 of 58
    This looks great. I frequently find that it all these 'little' side apps and functions that never seem to get mentioned actually end up being more use than headline grabbing ones.



    For example, Expose sure looks nice and does work well, but after years of application switching on Mac + PC, APPLE+TAB comes more natural.



    The word auto-complete function ALT+ESC is great, and being able to send a whole webpage from Safari APPLE+I to Mail is brilliant.



    Screenshots saved as a file rather than clipboard file (our poor windows cousins - have you ever seen the size of a windows screenshot BMP!!) seems so simple and means you can document work very quickly.



    The list goes on and on. I would truly like to see more about these small but sometimes essential features that get left behind with all the eye candy (no matter how promising it looks)
  • Reply 7 of 58
    yamayama Posts: 427member
    My my. Wikipedia in Dictionary.app eh?



    Between this and the new Movie Times widget in Leopard, it's no wonder that they ditched Sherlock.
  • Reply 8 of 58
    hobbeshobbes Posts: 1,252member
    Awesome.



    Loving this in-depth app-by-app series from AI. Keep it up!
  • Reply 9 of 58
    yamayama Posts: 427member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ng5forums View Post


    For example, Expose sure looks nice and does work well, but after years of application switching on Mac + PC, APPLE+TAB comes more natural.



    I wouldn't agree with that. I find Expose far more intuitive, although I will agree that command+tab is faster. Besides command+tab is purely for application management, whereas Expose is (mainly) for window management. Unless you're on a PC in which case the window *is* the application...



    P.S. As of the most recent iMac keyboards there is no more Apple key
  • Reply 10 of 58
    krispiekrispie Posts: 260member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mrtotes View Post


    ...i.e. utilize is spelt with an ...ize in UK English; but Tiger tries to correct to ...ise



    That'll be because "-ise" is correct.



    Pedantically, "-ize" is also a correct option, but is rarely used in UK English.



    As an example, the Guardian style guide tells us to use "-ise". That variant is so much the standard that many people consider "-ize" to be wrong, even if it's technically allowable.
  • Reply 11 of 58
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by krispie View Post


    That'll be because "-ise" is correct.



    Pedantically, "-ize" is also a correct option, but is rarely used in UK English.



    As an example, the Guardian style guide tells us to use "-ise". That variant is so much the standard that many people consider "-ize" to be wrong, even if it's technically allowable.





    Yeah, I don't get it. Does he have it backwards? Utilize is -ize in US English (as that's my setting and the native spell-checker didn't warn me), but likely -ise in UK English, as is the case with most -ize/-ise spelling differences between the two dialects. I can't see why OSX would go out of its way to try to incorrectly correct the -ize spelling to -ise when -ise isn't in fact the correct spelling in UK English.
  • Reply 12 of 58
    Still waiting for a talking dictionary.
  • Reply 13 of 58
    gustavgustav Posts: 825member
    Parental controls - a nice idea I guess, but what do people think will happen to their children if they find "bad" words in the dictionary? They'll giggle for a few minutes and it'll be over. They're not going to then go out and rob liquor stores.



    I guess it's the same silliness as Janet Jackson's breast in the SuperBowl half-time show. People think it's a terrible thing, but can't really explain why.
  • Reply 14 of 58
    gustavgustav Posts: 825member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ng5forums View Post


    For example, Expose sure looks nice and does work well, but after years of application switching on Mac + PC, APPLE+TAB comes more natural.



    Exposé is not meant to be just an application switcher per se. It's more of a visual window search tool. But the best part of Expose is the Desktop key in my opinion.



    For example, I'm in Mail and want to email an attachment on my desktop - I can hit exposé (desktop) to clear the windows, start dragging the file, hit the exposé key again and drop it on the window. This works great for dragging and dropping anywhere.



    The exposé application only key is handy too for "bring all app windows to front" functionality.
  • Reply 15 of 58
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Hobbes View Post


    Awesome.



    Loving this in-depth app-by-app series from AI. Keep it up!



    Agreed, well done!
  • Reply 16 of 58
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gustav View Post


    Exposé is not meant to be just an application switcher per se. It's more of a visual window search tool. But the best part of Expose is the Desktop key in my opinion.



    For example, I'm in Mail and want to email an attachment on my desktop - I can hit exposé (desktop) to clear the windows, start dragging the file, hit the exposé key again and drop it on the window. This works great for dragging and dropping anywhere.



    The exposé application only key is handy too for "bring all app windows to front" functionality.



    Yes. There's nothing like having 25 images open in Photoshop, activating Exposé's "bring all app windows to front", and then picking the one you want to bring to the front of the pile. Can't do that with Command+Tab. And the real secret weapon to Exposé: drag and drop capability. Truly awesome.



    For all the fanfare surrounding Exposé, I have to say it's the one of the few highly-touted features of OS X that actually changed my entire workflow. I simply couldn't live without it at this point. Can't say the same for Automator or Dashboard, which I use, but I don't NEED.



    I hope Spaces will be another Exposé in that regard. But I'll have to try it out to see.



    And I second the notion that these "app by app" detail articles are really cool. Keep them coming.
  • Reply 17 of 58
    Thank b*ggery that it's got a proper English dictionary, and not the supposed English that Americans call English.
  • Reply 18 of 58
    mgkwhomgkwho Posts: 167member
    You already can click every word in Tiger's Dictionary.



    -=|Mgkwho
  • Reply 19 of 58
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,341member
    Nice



    I use Dictionary and Wikipedia all the time when I'm on my Mac. I user answers.com when I'm on a PC. I'd pay money if I could download snippets of words pronounced as well linked to dictionary terms.
  • Reply 20 of 58
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,369member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hdasmith View Post


    Thank b*ggery that it's got a proper English dictionary, and not the supposed English that Americans call English.



    Thankfully not everyone sees UK English as having evolve in the right direction. Some see US English as more technically robust while much richer due to the melting pot annealing of the vocabulary.



    Look at the UK use of the word ARE to see how far they have fallen off the cliff.



    Dave
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