Once again we received a revision to the ever useful and popular Define Word macro. Originally submitted by Mark Bender in 2001 others have revised it in 2003, 2006, 2007 and
now, in 2010.
Of the latest version, submitter Marshall Gatten says:
"Previous versions were great, but they replaced the contents of your clipboard with the word you are looking up.
This version keeps your clipboard intact by copying its contents to a variable before overwriting it, and then restoring the contents of that variable back to the clipboard
when the Macro is finished. This version also uses a slightly different - and, in my opinion, slightly better - list of reference sites."
As I was checking Marshall's version of this macro I wondered if it could be improved even further. In 2001, when the Define Word macro was first published, Internet Explorer
was used by the vast majority of Internet users. The only other mainstream browser was Netscape and its use was in decline. These days at least 5 browsers can be considered
mainstream and many people are switching away from Internet Explorer and trying the alternatives.
I have five different browsers installed on my computers. They are used to check how our web pages look in each and also to make sure our programs run well with them. This
made me wonder if the 'Define Word' macro could be revised to support any browser that is set as the default.
The biggest challenge was to come up with a reliable way to determine which browser was set as the default. There are many published techniques and we have even used some of
them in our macros. However, many of the discovery methods stopped working with Windows Vista. The newly revised Defined Word macro contains a section that can detect the
default browser for Windows 9x, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. Even if you do not need this macro, you may want to look at how it detects the default browser.
Each submitter included their favorite list of online dictionaries. This new version of Define Word now includes 9 different sites to look up a word. You certainly do not
need all 9 so I made it easy to choose which to use by simply disabling a line in the macro.
But, the best result for me, is that it is now much faster, at least when I am using Firefox. It turns out that the different browsers all differ in how quickly they will
accept new page requests. Firefox and Chrome do not require any delay between page requests. Other browsers do. The details are in the macro itself.
For more information and to download this new, revised macro, visit the Define Word Take 5 page.
Marshall will receive a Macro Express T-shirt for his contribution.