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The Word Services Apple Event Suite

Michael D. Crawford
(formerly) Product Development Manager,
Working Software, Inc.

This paper was originally written for the MacHack '94 Conference. It is available as a Microsoft Word document via anonymous ftp.


The Word Services Apple Event Suite allows any application to link to a speller, grammar checker or other text service as if it was a built-in menu item. Working Software developed the protocol in cooperation with our competitors in the spelling business, as well as several grammar checker, database and word processor publishers, and Apple Computer, Inc. It is probably the simplest useful thing that a developer can do with Apple Events.

Word Services is designed to be very easy for client programs to implement - the client (or word processor) needs only to send a single Apple Event to a server program (or spellchecker) and then resume its event loop. The server takes over control of the protocol, retrieving and changing text in the client program's document by using a small subset of Core Suite Apple Events. The complete source code to Writeswell Jr. will be distributed along with the protocol specification. Writeswell Jr. is a simple word processor that supports Word Services, and is provided as an example that developers may use to add support for the protocol to their own applications.

Word Services applications have been shipping for over a year and a half. Spellers are available in a number of languages, and client programs ranging from a curriculum planner with a total of ten users to a major word processor have adopted the protocol. I will reflect on the long process of developing and promoting an industry standard protocol.


How it Works
Existing Implementations
Creating a New Protocol
Getting the Word Services SDK

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