When I was at school I remember a pile of 3.5 inch floppy disks taller than me sitting next to a CD with the proud label, “all of these fit on a single CD”. That same CD held Encarta, the digital encyclopedia. It seemed impossible – like the whole breadth of human knowledge could fit on a flat piece of plastic.
Now, some 20 years later, I take it for granted, and looking at Advanced English Dictionary I find myself thinking… “Yes, and?”, as I search for what else it does.
As easy as ABC
I can’t help but be dismayed by my own cynicism. For free, Advanced English Dictionary lets me download a vast, versatile English dictionary. It’s filled with images to aid understanding/comprehension, definitions, etymology, synonyms, and pronunciation in both US and UK accents to aid with learning.
Each word has clickable links to others of interest to further aid learning, while the relation button randomly takes you to other similar words to give you an unending chain of interesting entries. If that isn’t enough you can access a word of the day, past searches, and favorites with ease.
So, why is Advanced English Dictionary no longer enough to make me happy? Why is this reference tool not enough to sate my internet-addled mind? Well, first of all, its viewing options are restricted to full-screen and split-screen views in Windows 8. While the half screen does aid this (enabling me to use it as a reference tool while I work on the other half) it is not quite flexible enough. I want to have it quarter screen, behind, or poking out from under the program that is my primary focus while I work.
The other huge issue is that the search function does require you to be able to spell the word. It sounds like a small issue, but often when looking up a word my main reason is to clarify spelling. Compare this to a Google search, which will offer alternative (I mean correct ) spellings, as well as multiple links to definitions.
On the plus side, Advanced English Dictionary is far better presented than the search engine alternative.
A simple tool
Advanced English Dictionary is perfectly functional and a great tool if you can’t (or don’t) want to be connected to the internet while you work - it just doesn't add anything to your world that the internet doesn't already offer.