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bug#25107: Acknowledgement (Patches to clean up ispell.el)


From: Reuben Thomas
Subject: bug#25107: Acknowledgement (Patches to clean up ispell.el)
Date: Tue, 6 Dec 2016 16:20:24 +0000

On 6 December 2016 at 15:51, Eli Zaretskii <address@hidden> wrote:

Why is it useful to remove this information?  The documentation of the
spell-checkers themselves leaves a lot to be desired, so asking the
users to go consult it might not be appreciated.  I'd rather add here
the missing info about the other spellers.

​Emacs is enough for us to document without trying to document third-party software. Since all the software involved is free, better to fix it directly, and benefit all its users, rather than take on the burden of documenting it in order only to benefit Emacs users.

If you can point out specific deficiencies in spellcheckers, I'm quite happy to file suitable documentation patches with them.​ For example, the man page for hunspell seems clear enough:

The default dictionary depends on the locale settings. The following environment variables are searched: LC_ALL, LC_MESSAGES, and LANG. If none are set then the default personal dictionary is $HOME/.hunspell_default. Setting -d or  the DICTIONARY environmental variable, personal dictionary will be $HOME/.hunspell_dicname

I find the documentation for GNU aspell a little less obvious, as it requires the user to understand:

The personal dictionary generally has a filename of the form:

     .aspell.LANG.pws

and put this together with the "home-dir" setting to realise that the default is "~/.aspell.LANG.pws".

The documentation for ispell is a bit clearer:

If neither the -p switch nor the WORDLIST environment variable is given, ispell will search for a personal dictionary in both the current directory and $HOME, creating one in $HOME if none is found. The preferred name is constructed by appending ".ispell_" to the base name of the hash file.


In summary, it seems that a patch to the man page for aspell (as being the first place users are likely to look) would be helpful. If you have other suggestions, I can look into them.

> * lisp/textmodes/ispell.el (ispell-version): Since ispell.el is now
> firmly part of Emacs, and the version hasn’t changed since 2003, and
> isn’t used anywhere, remove it.  3rd-party code can better use the
> Emacs version, or feature or function checks.

I agree, but instead of removing the information, how about replacing
it with the Emacs version?  Something like "ispell.el from Emacs %s".

The context is an interactive call to ispell-check-version, which reports what version of the spell-checker is being used. If the user wishes to know what version of Emacs they are running, they can check emacs-version. When ispell.el was third-party code, knowing the version of ispell.el separately made sense, e.g. for bug reports. Now, one would use report-emacs-bug, which already includes the Emacs version; ispell-check-version, used interactively, is now primarily useful for diagnosing problems with the external spell-checker. (In general, having a diagnostic report the Emacs version seems redundant unless there's a good reason: for example, if the information is being transmitted outside Emacs, as is the case with report-emacs-bug.)

​As you ask (and in light of the recent emacs-devel discussion you copied to me), I'll give others the opportunity to respond before installing anything.

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