Maybe I’m looking for love in all the wrong places. When I first read about WhiteSmoke Writer T-Gen, I was excited. Here is a text checker that exceeds the capabilities of my word processing program. However, my PC became funky after installing Writer T-Gen. That’s funky as in “send me a technician NOW!” Since PCs are such complicated things, I’m giving Writer T-Gen the benefit of the doubt and saying that the PC‘s strange behavior is coincidental to the installation of Writer T-Gen, and not a complementary virus included with the demo.
“T-Gen” is shortened “Text Genome,” which WhiteSmoke claims to have cracked. Based on the way people write, errors made, and correct grammar, T-Gen is allegedly the ultimate spelling and grammar checker. It will also translate from one language to another; now I know that “meerrettich” is German for "horseradish" (hey, it was the first word that popped into my head when I was testing the translator). My favorite feature is that it checks for words that are used repetitiously (not common ones like “an” and “the”); that can be a problem when I am editing a particular sentence without evaluating its context. Who wants to put “phenomenally” in three consecutive sentences?
Writer T-Gen proofreads text in a variety of situations, including e-mail. It suggests corrections for spelling and grammar, although it operates in a more formal world of grammar than I’ve entered and sometimes makes suggestions that are laughably ungrammatical (Word makes similar suggestions). It counts words and sentences and arrives at an average word per sentence statistic. It also reports the percentages of passive verbs, negative sentences, informal expressions, and complex words. This paragraph, for example, contains 15% complex words and produced no alerts for correction. I received a score of nine out of ten, “very good” on the WhiteSmoke Writing Index for this passage, and was advised to use simpler words to improve readability.
In addition to its checking and translating functions, Writer T-Gen also includes a generous collection of templates for social and business correspondence. They cover many situations and are perfect when you need a jump-start to clear away the fog. I wouldn’t advise using them verbatim, since I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of 20 sympathy notes that say the exact same thing. Actually, I don’t want to be on the receiving end of any sympathy notes. Nor do I wish to be the subject of any.
Since this is such an advanced proofreading tool (they’ve cracked the text genome!), I paused to wonder when I discovered a typo on one of the first installation pages. Not a good sign. When I began working with the program, I had a few questions (apparently not frequently asked) that I referred to White Smoke. Since I was only allowed a seven-day preview, I needed to get the information quickly. It’s been five days with no response. Today is my seventh day with the product…tick…tick…tick…
It seems that only one paragraph can be proofed at a time. That doesn’t make sense in evaluating a whole page, so one of my questions dealt with that topic. Another was whether the program was compatible with Google Chrome, my browser of choice. I was not having any luck using Writer T-Gen with Gmail, and needed to know if it was something I was doing wrong or if it was a software issue. I also asked about a button that appears (and, in my case, disappears) at the top of a text page—users can either hit F2 or an “ABC”—“Whitesmoke Everywhere”—button to begin the check process. (Where I live, “ABC” stands for “Alcoholic Beverage Control.” Maybe I was asking the wrong people. Or maybe I need a drink to use Writer T-Gen).
Another question I would pose, if I thought I’d get an answer, is whether the full version of the program includes more writing styles than “general” which is the only style in the demo. “Informal,” “business,” and “technical” would be useful. Without them, Writer T-Gen is virtually useless for my purposes.
Don’t tell anyone (especially not my husband) but I’m not perfect. I would love to have a program that does what Writer T-Gen purports to do. My first draft invariably contains punctuation and grammatical errors, even a few homophonic mistakes at times. I’m tired of rereading articles seven or eight times; I don’t find myself all that amusing. However, Writer T-Gen repeatedly fails to pick up errors that one would think are obvious, and does not perform as well as Word, which doesn’t perform well enough for me.
In WhiteSmoke’s opinion, the company is “the first, last and only word in writing enhancement.” If Writer T-Gen is the gold standard, then I won’t hold my breath for something better—this is it! I don’t know if problems I encountered are limited to the demo version, but based on my experience, I cannot recommend Writer T-Gen.
Bottom Line: Would I buy Writer T-Gen? No, not on the strength of the demo. It was disappointing.