I am a writer. I write loads of technical documentation as well as novels (check out my fiction on Smashwords and Autumnal Press). Because of my trade I am always seeking out tools to aid in my own process. And although the web has made everything so much easier, it is still good to have a few dedicated tools around to make everything easier.
One of the tools I take advantage of is a thesaurus. Since using a paper thesaurus is so '80s, it's almost a necessity to have one in the electronic form. My favorite to use is a combination of the tried and true WordNet and the GUI front-end Artha. With this combination you have a thesaurus at the ready with a simple hot key combination. Let's take a look at installing and using this handy tool.
You may have heard of WordNet before. It's a very handy command-line interface for the WordNet lexical database. By itself, WordNet is not terribly helpful (unless you are using it for writing scripts or applications). When combined with a front-end however, WordNet is very powerful. There are many front ends for WordNet, but one of the easiest to use is Artha. Artha is a free, cross-platform thesaurus that depends upon WordNet for the backend.
The installation of these two tools is simple. You can either search for them and install them from within your Add/Remove Software tool (search for "wordnet" and "artha" - no quotes), or you can install them via the command line. Let's install from the command line. To do this, follow these steps:
sudo apt-get install wordnet artha.
That's it. Once installed you will find Artha in Applications > Accessories.
There are two ways you can use Artha:
The most obvious way to use Artha is from the Artha window (see figure 1). From within that window you can enter a word in the Query section and hit the Search button. This will bring up all of the information about the word you chose. As you can see, I searched for the word Linux.
The second, and more efficient, way to use Artha is as a hot key tool. When you close Artha (by default) it will minimize to the notification area so it's still running in the background. To look up a word all you have to do is highlight a word (in any application) and click the hot key combination Ctrl-Alt-w. When you do this a notification window will appear with the information about the word (see Figure 2). If you hit the hot key combination a second time, the Artha window will appear with the information about your selected word.
Writers tools are a must have for anyone looking to make their work more efficient and accurate. If you're looking for a solid thesaurus tool, look no further than WordNet and Artha.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.