…is now live on the App Store! This update adds a feature that I’ve understandably had many requests for: spelling and grammar checking! Let’s just say that in the course of living without spell-check, I’ve learned that I’m a much less consistent typist than I believed myself to be. If you’re in the same boat as me, or if you inherit documents from people like me, TypeMetal 1.1 will be a welcome update. (Not coincidentally, this update also brings spelling fixes to nearly every page of TypeMetal’s in-app Help / User Guide.)

An interesting aspect of HTML is that it’s set up to allow for mixed-language documents, in which the language of each text run can be explicitly indicated using a “lang” or “xml:lang” attribute on an element that wraps it. You aren’t required to annotate your documents with these attributes, but when they’re present, TypeMetal 1.1 uses the language identification they provide to ensure that each part of your document is checked against a language-appropriate dictionary and grammar rule set. When explicit language identification isn’t present, TypeMetal can still usually make a good best guess based on the document’s content and your OS X language preferences. But if you’re writing mixed-language content, you might want to make a practice of applying “lang” or “xml:lang” attributes where appropriate, to assist browsers and Web-crawlers that might be able to take advantage of such language info. (Per the HTML 5 spec, by the way, the value for either of these attributes is a “BCP 47” language tag, which in common practice just means an abbreviation with optional region qualifier, such as “en” for English, “fr” for French, “pt-PT” for Portuguese as spoken in Portugal, “pt-BR” for Brazilian Portuguese, etc.)

Grammar checking is mostly working in this build, with one glitch to watch out for: If you begin a grammar-check operation from a mid-sentence insertion point or selection, grammar-check may falsely indicate that you have a sentence fragment. Either disregard such indications or position the insertion point at the start of a sentence before initiating grammar checking for now. I’ll be fixing this in a future update, and I didn’t want to delay the release of spell-checking because of it.

One thing I haven’t yet implemented in 1.1 is the red-underlining, continuous spell-checking that you’re probably accustomed to using in other writing apps. For now, you’ll want to remember to hit Cmd+; once in a while (especially before publishing), to check your document for suspected misspellings.

Adding that nifty red underlining requires character-/glyph-level line layout information that the public WebKit API doesn’t currently provide. To date, I’ve managed to achieve a great deal without having to embed a custom WebKit build in TypeMetal, and there are numerous worthwhile benefits to sticking with OS X’s WebKit if I possibly can, but there are also things I’d like to do that seemingly can’t be done otherwise. So I face a decision point, that’s going to take a little longer to sort out. Manually-invoked spelling and grammar checking seemed worth releasing in the meantime, and I hope users won’t find it too inconvenient to revive the old Cmd+; habit as I have, while I do some further work on this.

I hope you’ll enjoy this newest version of TypeMetal! As always, please feel welcome to bring questions and feedback to the TypeMetal Support Forum! — Thanks again for your support!