Recently, Matt Mullenweg announced Automattics latest acquisition, a company called After The Deadline. After The Deadline is a service that uses artificial intelligence to find writing errors and offer smart suggestions. In a nutshell, it takes your usual spell checker to the next level. I find it ironic that just two weeks prior to the acquisition, Matt Mullenweg was asked the following question in preparation for his interview on the SitePoint Podcast. “WordPress is world-renowned for blogging. If you were to start another project, along the same lines as WordPress but not to do with blogging, what would it be?” His answer: Synchronization, or some sort of contextual text analysis for grammar and spell-checking. Maybe something with anti-spam again like Akismet. I have no idea if this was a hint out in the open of the oncoming acquisition or if this was an honest answer by Matt and After The Deadline just happened to be a coincidence. Whatever the case, here is my experience with the plugin/service so far.
In order to use the service on a self hosted WordPress installation, you’ll need to head on over to the After The Deadline website, register for an account, copy the API key and paste that into the appropriate field when configuring the ATD plugin, just like Akismet. The service will not work unless you plug in the API Keys.
Once the plugin is installed, you’ll see the spell check icon in the visual editor change to show ABC plus a green checkmark. Clicking on this icon will initiate the ATD check. The check consists of grammar (Green Underline), misused words (Red Underline), and style (Blue Underline).
It’s been really nice to be able to click on a word that’s supposedly been used wrong and have an explanation on the words proper usage supplied. Also nice to have suggestions. So not only do writers get to correct their mistakes, they get the chance to figure out why it was a mistake. I suggest running the ATD check when you’re finished writing the post as words that are marked as ignore will show up with a red underline on any subsequent checks. The coolest thing about After The Deadline is that thanks to its implementation on WordPress.com, there are now millions of words for which ATD can use to help refine the various algorithms and contextual analysis meaning the service will only continue to improve.
Overall, I’ve used ATD for a few of the posts here on WPTavern and have been pleased with the results. The ATD check is not available in the HTML version of the editor so if you have any type of multimedia in your post such as embedded videos, using the visual editor to get access to the ATD button might be a pain. However, I think it’s a small price to pay in return for having presentable content.