Knowledge Jam

This next Novello feature will blow your brains out!

First, some background. One of Novello’s main concepts is to steal ideas from the IDEs that computer programmers use. I use IntelliJ, which has got lots of little features to make you more productive. Most IDEs try to make it easy for the user to do everything they need to do with the keyboard alone. The learning curve is steeper than with a mouse, but once you’ve learnt a few keyboard shortcuts you start to feel the power sparking in your fingertips.

When you’re writing code with Intellij, the first magic keyboard spell you learn is control-space. Control space will do different things depending on where you are in your code. So I have made control-space the all powerful command in Novello. When you’re typing away, spewing forth your literary masterpiece, control-space will always be there to help you. It is also there if you are reading through someone else’s work in Novello.

Anyway, control space brings up a (as yet small) menu of commands for you to access. The one I’ve just added is a Wikipedia integration. Here’s how it works:

  1. Either select the phrase you want to look up, or do nothing if you want to look up the word where the cursor is located and do control-space:
  2. Choose “Lookup: (your word)”:
  3. You are then presented with snippets from all Wikipedia articles that are closely related to your word:
    You can then either hit “escape” to return to the editor or select one of the snippets to open it in your web browser.

If you’re interested, I used Wikipedia’s webservice API documented here.

While I was looking for this webservice (which was difficult coz when I googled for “wikipedia webservice api” I just got hits about webservices and apis in wikipedia itself) I also tried to find a Google webservice that I could use. Interestingly, Google has recently removed their webservice claiming that their new AJAX API is much better and easier to use. This is bullshit. The only reason they have removed their webservice is because then it would be possible for computer programs like Novello to do google searches without dishing up the ads to go with it. Google is indeed becoming evil.

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