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Head in the sand regarding spell checking not being a disaster.

asked 2016-04-27 00:08:38 +0100

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LibreOffice is generally great.

LibreOffice spell checking is generally absolutely terrible and has been since day one in OpenOffice. Please throw it out and start from scratch.

These things happen on a regular basis.

  • It doesn't hold settings, once you close out of "Writing Aids" options it reverts.

  • It doesn't work at all out of the box 90% of the time.

  • It doesn't work unless locale is is what it considers "correct" (usually not actually correct.)

  • It stops working if language "Language Settings > Languages" is different than " Language Settings > Writing Aids" a lot of the time.

  • When it doesn't work it doesn't give errors or explain why it's not working.

It actually thinks it is working even when it isn't at all and in turn so does the user. It literally says "The spellcheck is complete". The user then thinks there is no spelling mistakes on there CV, they don't get the job and they die of starvation.

There are countless forum posts all over the internet on this, please stop getting defensive and please start from scratch and fix it.

I'm 32 and I've literally seen this since I was a child. It is the single most consistently semi-broken thing I have seen in computing.

  • I like LibreOffice and advocate it to whoever will listen but the spell check system is a disaster, I often leave it on a less than ideal settings because it's the only thing that will work.

I've installed it on.

  • Windows XP
  • Windows 7
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 10
  • Ubuntu
  • Xubuntu
  • OpenSuse

All have problems with spell checking.

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Not being a native speaker of English I had to apply a sense checker to the subject "Head in the sand regarding spell checking not being a disaster." It didn't pass. When I asked to translate the phrase first to German and then to English again for me I got "Get in the sand, because the spell checker is not a disaster." "Why worry about the spelling then?" was my next thought.
I will continue to check my spelling myself. And stay cool if errors occur.

Lupp gravatar imageLupp ( 2017-11-17 17:09:13 +0100 )edit

Lupp, You probably get the idea that burying one's head in the sand means ignoring something bad or dangerous. I think it came from ostriches appearing to bury their heads (it's a myth-they may look like their heads are buried but they are probably turning their eggs). Those translators can certainly get things wrong!

catbill gravatar imagecatbill ( 2017-11-17 19:03:42 +0100 )edit

However, the topic is not about ostriches. Or is it? Using figures of speech instead of conveying a clear idea when discussing technical problems is utterly stupid. And it is not only my opinion.

gabix gravatar imagegabix ( 2017-11-22 14:17:42 +0100 )edit

3 Answers

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answered 2017-09-15 08:10:09 +0100

Kruno gravatar image

updated 2017-11-22 20:26:31 +0100

Spell checking works out of the box only if you chose the right language at download page. Otherwise you need to download language pack separately.

LibreOffice supports over hundred languages but you don't want all locals, all help files and all dictionaries as that would be a huge download - you hopefully need only one and you specify which one. LibreOffice can be used on virtually any operating system which complicates things even more and you need to make tweak here and there.

There is some room for improvement but it does works.

Being broken is not the same thing as being slightly outdated. And again, LO expect you to provide language files: translated user interface, translated help and spell checking dictionary as addition to core installation.

It's all about knowing your office suite. It has it's hiccups but the way I see it, LibreOffice doesn't have alternative.

Use bugzilla to report bugs or enhancements request if you find something not working. But read documentation first. This is a wrong place for this and I'm also breaking the rules by answering this as we're about to turn QA site to plain old forum.

The funny part is that development is focused on stuff users don't see or don't care instead of focusing on things users care about. They tend do be neglected and this causes frustration as you still see bugs from ten years ago that affects you every day.

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Answering "development is focused on stuff users don't see or don't care instead of focusing on things users care about". This itself is wrong. When you have a huge project, there are areas that some users care about, and areas other care. So seing bugs interesting to you ignored, doesn't mean that what's done isn't important to others. The frustration is understandable, put presumption is wrong.

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2017-11-18 10:00:04 +0100 )edit

The way you put it holds true only if we talk about bugs and enhancement requests which concern only so many people, not so when pretty much everybody agrees that some (relatively) core functionality of the word processor needs to be improved - but it never does. But I understand why so I just bare with it.

Kruno gravatar imageKruno ( 2017-11-22 09:49:38 +0100 )edit

What is that "pretty much everybody agrees that some (relatively) core functionality of the word processor needs to be improved" part you are talking about? We are talking about spell checking, and if you browse this site, you'll find that while there are users unhappy with it, there are others who have it working fine. So this is just another problem concerning just so many people...

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2017-11-22 10:08:27 +0100 )edit

You're ask me questions and you answer them. You said spell checking works, I said it, ajlittoz said it. It works. But does it need improvement - it does. If to many people don't know how to use it, it's obviously not intuitive enough. If LO can detect language of a document, locale settings of LO and operating system, why not display a message that dictionary is missing? Why not corss-reference browser's language with location trough IP address at download page and automatically offer to

Kruno gravatar imageKruno ( 2017-11-22 10:45:00 +0100 )edit

download language pack? Spell checking works, but it's not executed elegantly as it could and should be. By number of questions asked by new users this feature, I don't think that 'read the manual' it the right approach, needs to be done something more. Users have expectations, commercial software either sets trends or follow them.

Kruno gravatar imageKruno ( 2017-11-22 10:50:19 +0100 )edit

You are missing the point again. Many things in LO need improvement. And for each of those, you have just so many people suffering from imperfection, and just so many developers interested in this feature. You started to throw items from you bag that you want to improve, and believe me: there are much more items out there. What I say you do wrong is that you suppose that this topic is somehow more important than many others.

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2017-11-22 10:53:22 +0100 )edit

answered 2017-09-14 20:55:20 +0100

KurtBecker gravatar image

I totally agree I do not use Libre Office because it's free(even so that is nice) and YES I did donate $50 when I installed it the first time. But then I realized that this was actually a waste of money. I do NOT have the time to figure out why the spell-checker does not work. I downloaded the latest version and started a new document and deliberately misspelled a word. The spell-checker did not work. It might be that there is a button hidden somewhere I have to press, but I do not have the time... anyway it says that the spell-check is complete, while it is not. Fortunately I am not a poor man and I have to do what I hate the most... give more money to Microsoft, but at least their spell-checker does work. I am appalled by the patronizing and insulting answers people get as a response to their questions.


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It is frustrating when something does not work for you. However, I think you do not realize how unkind you sound. I have not had the problems you describe and neither have many others. You call others arrogant but it seems arrogant to demand that a feature be rewritten from scratch because it does not work for you.

catbill gravatar imagecatbill ( 2017-11-23 00:28:58 +0100 )edit

While there are always areas for improvement, volunteers have created a great program. Note that even after you insult them, they are still willing to help you. Since you say you like LibreOffice and advocate for it, please consider how you can play a more helpful role.

catbill gravatar imagecatbill ( 2017-11-23 00:36:44 +0100 )edit

answered 2017-11-17 22:44:13 +0100

ajlittoz gravatar image

updated 2017-11-17 22:46:41 +0100

I can understand frustration about such a question but usually complaining user is to be blamed. Let me explain.

First steps with LO are easy because basic tasks can be readily achieved thanks to a not-so-bad interface and a rather intuitive set of features. However when demand for advanced capabilities grows, intuition is no longer sufficient to "configure", "control" or "drive" the application. You must read the manuals and learn between the lines what is implicitly refered to, such as deep-rooted principles (which I call the usage philosophy).

Unfortunately, this second stage is not followed by the vast majority of users because, once again, LO is easy to use for basic tasks.

Now how does spell-check works? Remember that LO can handle very complex documents, e.g. multi-lingual ones. Consequently, when it sees a specific run of characters, which is colloquially called a word, it must know which language it belongs to. This is settled by Tooks->Options->Language Settings->Languages which acts as a global "ancestor" to Default Style and is correctly saved in the user's profile (and does not spontaneously revert).

I never had trouble with additional settings in Language Settings->Writing Aids. On the contrary, I set there all the languages I may potentially encounter in my documents.

The key point is to correctly configure the exceptions to the default language through paragraph/character styles. Of course, the needed language packs must have been loaded beforehand.

When I see Spellcheck is complete too quickly, I suspect bad configuration and I'm usually right. I spend some time applying step-by-step a procedure I've created when upgrading version. Too frequently enough, alas, I miss some step and spellcheck does not work on first try, but it can be corrected.

I do not say everything is perfect. There is (a large) room for improvement but remember that you have a complex application in your hands and you cannot master it if you don't invest in learning it. Manuals are neglected. They are not perfect either, sometimes lag after version release but they nevertheless contain a loadful of information worth studying. After all, you learned how to drive a car and were allowed to drive alone only after some coached training.

Sorry for also deliberately breaking the rules but ranting won't solve your problem. If there is no definite solution, there are workarounds. Give specific context and we'll try to help in the best of our knowledge.

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Asked: 2016-04-27 00:08:38 +0100

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Last updated: Nov 22