Reviews
Word Processor

WORD PROCESSOR REVIEW

Welcome to the DonationCoder comprehensive review of Modern Word Processors. In part one we look at the majors players; in part two we try out the second-tier contenders; part three examines the online word processors challenging the desktop heavy hitters.

Review by Zaine Ridling

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 



Introduction, Part 1: Major word processors 

If ever a maxim fit, one size does not fit all applies accurately to word processors. First rule: Choose your word processor according to your environment and needs, and inherent in that choice is choosing your format. Second rule: be happy with your choice, because statistics show you're not likely to change.

How a word processor is judged depends on what role one assumes. For example, a graduate student has more exacting demands from a word processor than a supervisor, who uses her database program to issue memos and take notes that can be directly shared on task rather than a rerouting communication through a word processor. The same goes for a self-employed person compared with one who merely uses a word processor to primarily write letters. Many novelists never used word processors, and they still do not, as a word processor's emphasis on formatting and layout is often a distraction to writing. Thus what role one assumes will define need, and need will determine what one demands from their word processor.

Perhaps the biggest arguments occur between the failure to look beyond the word processor itself and consider instead the format. Documents are written to be shared, and on top of old world printing, it's been Adobe's PDF (Portable Document Format) that has enabled it most. The commoditization of Microsoft's Office Open XML format (MS-OOXML) with OpenOffice's OASIS OpenDocument Format (ODF) through the interoperability work of Novell will only mean that where before PDF was the primary format vehicle for sharing documents (along with HTML, XML, and .doc), documents will merely be shared directly through XML. Already, with the help of online word processors, one can upload a document to say, Google Docs, and a manager, teacher, or entire group can have read/write access to any number of documents among many formats. The reality is that it doesn't matter which word processor you use as long as it makes your work easier and more efficient. The commoditization signifies that as formats become more interchangeable, what specific word processor is used becomes irrelevant to the life of the document.

However, it's important to go a step further now that ODF is ISO-certified as the international standard for creating office documents. Before there was an ISO standard universal document format, all applications sought to support as many formats as possible to increase their interoperability. While some formats would have allowed better interoperability, e.g., RTF (Rich-Text Format), they were not used by the market-leading vendor (Microsoft). Thus, all programs should write import/export filters for the OASIS OpenDocument Format (ODF) shared by OpenOffice. The first thing OpenOffice did was not lock itself into its original format (SXW), but wrote filters for Microsoft's file formats as a way ticket to the game. Doing so directly contributed to the creation and adoption of ODF for OpenOffice and has helped the entire office field arrive at a truly Open Standard Open Document Format (ODF). This is critical because not only is ODF increasingly supported by more applications (almost all the online word processors do so), for the purpose of document life and control, it should be the only format used by governments and companies, as Georg Greve notes.

Let us be clear: the choice is not between being able to interoperate with Microsoft — thanks to Novell and Corel doing interoperability work for them — or being stuck in some ODF ghetto, unable to read Microsoft documents. Everyone wants to interoperate. The question is how. The problem is Microsoft. The solution lies with Microsoft. It's 2007, and it's time that Microsoft followed the same standards everyone else, instead of insisting the world bend to their ways. Microsoft's MS-OOXML doesn't disrupt this propensity. It's not only unacceptable, but quite strange that even now we can't all freely share documents with one another, no matter what operating system we like to use. (For example, Microsoft Office 2007 documents cannot be read or opened in the Mac version of Office!) But we can send each other email, read each others blogs and websites, even if you are on Windows, I'm on Linux, and Uncle Fester is using OS X. Why isn't that the norm for everything? It ought to be. The bottleneck is Microsoft. FOSS software is happy to interoperate with any other software. Why won't Microsoft? That is the $64,000 question in 2007. All this only matters if you intend to use Microsoft Word. The good news is that there are many good alternatives.

Which word processor is the best? Depends on whom you ask. The good news is that there are several great choices among word processors now, including online word processors that bring needed collaboration and publishing features, centered around the ODF format, which is not tied to any specific word processor vendor.

Thus this review won't champion a "winner," because most of the word processors reviewed were either good or very good. With so many good choices in the word processor category, it's impossible to say someone shouldn't use something like TextMaker or Atlantis if they like it, are productive with it, and it suits their needs. And debates between Word and OpenOffice often come down to cost and control in the end for businesses; personal preference for individuals. So you don't feel cheated, if you skip to the very end, I
do offer my own personal choices within each category and the briefest reasons why.

What to consider in a major word processor 
• Suitability. Does it meet your needs in your business, at home, at school, or in whatever role you use it? Can you work with one at home and another at the office?

• Ease-of-use. A short learning curve. This is where the user interface (UI) makes the difference. Does it have a solid Help file to get you started?

• Power. Does it handle complex or large documents well? You'll notice a word processor's performance quickly, but sooner or later, you're going to need power.

• Default file format. The two de facto formats around the globe are OASIS OpenDocument (ODF) format and Word's binary .doc format (2007 has the XML-based .docx format, but only WordPerfect and OpenOffice will have conversion filters for it). Which will you choose, and which will you need to use in your work? Can it export to: (1) ODF, (2) Word, (3) PDF? You may not need additional format choices, but if you share your files with others, you will. Online word processors, however, offers a lovely workaround solution to this age-old compatibility problem.

• User Interface. Is it familiar or distracting? Can you find features easily? Can you setup and build your documents without frustration? In other words, does it aid or hinder your work?

 

 

 

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OpenOffice.org 


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WHAT TO LIKE

Note that it is Microsoft who is funding the third-party writing of the ODF plugin for Office 2007 via "MCAN" (Microsoft-Clever Age-Novell), not the other way around. And as Rob Wier notes, Microsoft seems to have designed it to intentionally annoy users: "Since Microsoft is the one providing the, "Funding, Architectural & Technical Guidance and Project co-coordination" one would think that they would contribute more in the area where they are uniquely qualified to assist, the full and native integration of the ODF support into Office." OpenOffice.org has .doc support and while Novell has promised to share the results of its MS-OOXML-to-ODF converter efforts with the OpenOffice.org project, but I agree with Walt Hucks, who suggests "waiting for the [OpenDocument Foundation's] DaVinci plugin to be completed and released later this year. It will allow users to natively use OpenDocument Formats, even as the default file format, while preserving Microsoft-specific features in ODF files (and hopefully, specific features of other applications as well, including those which Microsoft Office does not understand or support)." The list of features not supported by the MCAN ODF converter is long, as in really long. This means that if you're an OpenOffice.org user who must use Word 2007, save all your files in .doc format only using Compatibility Mode. This is your best chance for conversion between the two programs.

As of 2006, ODF is the ISO certified international standard for office documents, not MS-OOXML, nor .doc. For any other vendor, it's easier to write a conversion filter for ODF than will ever be for MS-OOXML, among other reasons for the sheer sake of supporting Microsoft's backward compatibility with its previous proprietary formats over the past 18 years. Corel has announced it will support both ODF and MS-OOXML in the next WordPerfect version. That was more than seven months ago as of this writing and no word yet on their progress, or lack thereof.


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WHAT NOT TO LIKE

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CONCLUSION
OpenOffice.org seems to taken the best features of Microsoft Word 2003 — such Format Painter, document recovery, hosted templates, nested tables, Edit > Paste special, etc. — but left out the bloat; for every feature is not mimicked. So if you're a fan of Word 97-2003, then you already know your way around OpenOffice.org. OpenOffice.org 3.0 is due late 2007/early 2008, as many word processors are due to be upgraded over the next year. Don't look for OpenOffice.org to share the Ribbon feature of Microsoft Office. Microsoft has forbidden products that directly compete with it to implement the Ribbon, not that anyone would want to. While a move to OpenOffice.org or StarOffice need not accompany a migration away from Windows, these suites can pave the way to such a move in the future — a measure of flexibility that one cannot expect elsewhere, and still retain your documents' integrity. Novell will aid in this by offering interoperability between OpenOffice.org OASIS OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Microsoft MS-OOXML format later in 2007. Beyond the anti-Microsoft emotional element, OpenOffice.org's code development is open to all and its recent ODF Toolkit Project allows developers expand ODF's range of use in other applications, and to improve the ability to use OpenOffice.org as a programming framework for creating and processing OpenDocument (ODF) documents rather than to use it as a desktop application. It is based on the OpenOffice.org source code, and can be tailored to process ODF documents outside traditional office desktop applications.

Thus OpenOffice.org stands and falls on its own reputation. It has a bright, secure future, and its user community brings a lot of excitement to it, making it fun.

StarOffice should be included with OpenOffice.org because it's often a choice of businesses for its support options. The differences between StarOffice and OpenOffice.org are subtle but distinct. The source code available at OpenOffice.org does not consist of all of the StarOffice code. Usually, the reason for this is that Sun pays to license third party code included in StarOffice, but which OpenOffice.org does not have permission to include. StarOffice costs $70 (or $35 for an Enterprise license), whereas OpenOffice.org is free (but the OpenOffice.org project does take donations!). So if you're feeling generous and you're a long-time OpenOffice.org user, consider buying a license to StarOffice. Those things which are present in StarOffice but are not available on OpenOffice.org are not extraordinarily different but include:

  • Certain fonts (including, especially, Asian-language fonts)
  • The database component Adabas D
  • Additional templates
  • Extensive Clip Art Gallery
  • Some sorting functionality (Asian versions)
  • Additional file filters
  • Commercial spell checker and thesaurus
  • Migration assessment tool (Enterprise Edition)
  • Macro migration tool (Enterprise Edition)
  • Configuration management tools



LINKS
OpenOffice.org 2.x Features - http://www.openoffice.org/dev_docs/features/2.0/index.html
OpenOffice.org FAQs - http://www.openoffice.org/FAQs/mostfaqs.html
Wikipedia - OpenDocument (ODF) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenDocument
OpenOffice.org Wiki - http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/Main_Page
Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Word 2003 (screenshots) - http://www.sun.com/software/star/openoffice/
ODF Alliance - http://www.odfalliance.org/news.php
 

REVIEWS
Various OpenOffice 2.x Reviews - http://www.openoffice.org/product/reviews.html
CNET - http://reviews.cnet.com/OpenOffice_2/4505-3524_7-31624261.html
eWeek - http://www.eweek.com/print_article2/0,1217,a=163156,00.asp
Financial Times - http://www.ft.com/cms/s/1c5e53b8-b205-11d9-8c61-00000e2511c8.html
PCPro - http://www.pcpro.co.uk/reviews/80012/openoffice-2.html
ComputerWorld - http://computerworld.com.sg/ShowPage.aspx?pagetype=2&articleid=2742&pubid=3&issueid=66
PCMag - http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1851003,00.asp
vnunet.com - http://www.vnunet.com/personal-computer-world/software/2140229/openoffice-org
Good Gear Guide - http://www.goodgearguide.com.au/index.php/taxid;1730094674;pid;1587;pt;1#cb
Sun Microsystems - http://www.sun.com/software/star/staroffice/reviews.jsp



 

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Microsoft Word 2007 


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WHAT TO LIKE

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WHAT NOT TO LIKE

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CONCLUSION
With the 2007 version, Microsoft Word has become what I always dreamed it would someday be: a killer desktop publishing app built-in to my word processor! In my view, that's its biggest draw. The whole point of Microsoft's redesign of Word's user interface is to enable users to spend more time writing and less time formatting. In a way it succeeds and can save you time, but at the price of spending more time overall inside the word processor itself constantly tinkering. As Oliver Rist of InfoWorld states: "Microsoft's other goal for Office 2007 is to differentiate itself as much as possible from its new competitors." This new version is particularly aimed at office workers who spend years with various versions of the program and make their living with Word as their primary office tool, but won't bother to study the program and learn it. But expect your learning curve of Word 2007 to increase if you're a long-term current user. New users should have little problem adapting the new user interface. Word 2007 embeds a broad array of desktop publishing features to the word processor, and if your work employs composing brochures, stylish reports, this is your word processor. But in order to master it, set aside time to learn it.

However, it falls short in the academic arena and students and researchers should be advised not to use Word 2007's bibliographic feature. If your work demands consistent graphic documents, such as brochures, catalogs, extensive reports, or broad collaboration on projects, then Microsoft Word 2007 is well worth your time and money. If you're a student, scholar, or writer, I cannot recommend Word 2007. With regard to its new file format, it's safer to save your documents in the binary .doc format for reasons of both backward and forward compatibility, as the MS-OOXML specification will never be implemented by anyone other than Microsoft. Simply put, that means if you use and save documents in Office 2007's new file format, your data will be locked-in by Microsoft and the only way you'll have reliable, readable access to it is by, through, and of Microsoft alone.
 

LINKS
FlexGo: Microsoft's Pay-as-you-go Computing - http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/flexgo/default.mspx
Microsoft Office Fluent User Interface (doc file) - http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/2007office/docs/2007OfficeUIFS.doc
Open XML Formats FAQs - http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/products/HA101723691033.aspx
Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for the 2007 formats - http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/beta/converter.mspx
Word Team blog - http://blogs.msdn.com/microsoft_office_word/
Word 2003-2007 command reference guide - http://officebeta.iponet.net/en-us/help/HA100744321033.aspx
System Requirements for Word - http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/help/HA101668651033.aspx
ODF Add-in for Microsoft Word 2007 - http://sourceforge.net/projects/odf-converter
PDF add-in - http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/help/HA101675271033.aspx

REVIEWS
Jeff Kirvin - http://kirvinonwriting.blogspot.com/2006/05/microsoft-word-2007-review.html
ZDNet - http://review.zdnet.com/word-processors/microsoft-word-2007/4505-3529_16-32143055.html
PC Pro - http://www.pcpro.co.uk/reviews/100139/word-2007.html
PC World - http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,128266/article.html
Oliver Rist - http://weblog.infoworld.com/smbit/archives/2006/10/living_with_off.html
The Register - http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/01/23/microsoft_office_2007_uptake/

 

 

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WordPerfect X3 

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WHAT TO LIKE

 

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WHAT NOT TO LIKE

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CONCLUSION
On almost every front, WordPerfect meets every challenge. From compatibility to PDF export to file format to graphics to power to broad choice within the UI, WordPerfect's flexibility makes an ideal word processor. This year Corel has promised to provide support for both OpenOffice.org OASIS OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Microsoft's MS-OOXML within the program, although by Summer 2007, Corel was still bogged in this effort, and has refused to comment publicly on any further timeline on when a converter would be ready. Given the complexity of the MS-OOXML spec, I'm eager to see how accurate Corel's conversion filters will be, and who (or what) will be blamed if they're not. Which format will be dominant in ten years around the globe we'll see, but Corel is offering cover by splitting their bet — if you use one format, you'll still have WordPerfect to convert it to the other for you.

Ultimately, WordPerfect suffers because it's no longer the sole major competitor to Microsoft Word, and its WPD document format is essentially obscure, forcing it to support every other format it can. Years of "We're number 2!" cheerleading has not brought the software a larger slice of the market. Perhaps WordPerfect isn't different enough to make you want to switch from Microsoft Word, but who cares, it's a significant upgrade for current users and it makes a great word processor for students at any higher level. And if you want a familiar, customizable interface rather than Word's Ribbon, WordPerfect has you covered. And if you're a current WordPerfect user, you should be using this version, so upgrade now!

 

LINKS
[BetaNews] Corel: ODF One Choice Among Many - http://www.betanews.com/article/Corel_ODF_is_One_Choice_Among_Many/1165015068
WordPerfect FAQs - http://www.corel.com/servlet/Satellite/us/en/Product/1152105039094
Wikipedia - WordPerfect - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WordPerfect
WordPerfect Universe - http://www.wpuniverse.com/

REVIEWS
eWeek.com - http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,1917723,00.asp
Software in Review - http://www.softwareinreview.com/cms/content/view/36/1/
WordPerfect vs. Word (ongoing) - http://www.wpvsword.com/
IT Reviews - http://www.itreviews.co.uk/software/s355a.htm
PC Pro - http://www.pcpro.co.uk/reviews/57568/corel-wordperfect-office-12.html
TG Daily - http://www.tgdaily.com/2006/01/17/corel_wordperfect_officex3_release/
PC Magazine - http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1565988,00.asp
ZDNet - http://review.zdnet.com/Corel_WordPerfect_Office_X3_Standard_Edition/4505-3524_16-31660600-2.html
 

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Introduction, Part 2: Second-tier word processors 
 
Remember: one size does not fit all. Choose your word processor according to your environment and needs. Don't let the world "alternate" lull you into thinking these word processors are mediocre. They are anything but so. Some have been around since the 1980s, the rest in some form since the early to mid-1990s. So like many office suites, these word processors have had time to mature, although their ambition and target user do not always match each other. Unlike the big three word processors above, they won't take long to master, and they don't waste time on superfluous features that don't work, such as Word 2003's crippling Master Document feature. Instead, you get a word processor built to create professional-looking documents with ease and efficiency.

Who are these word processors built for? Anyone, really; anyone who neither needs nor wants a full office suite. Look around at your family — your mom, retired uncle, nephew, gamer buddy, sports-crazed neighbor, or drunken sot of a best friend may never need the high-end features of Microsoft Word. In comes "alternate" word processor to save them time, money, and allow them to sidestep years of frustration. However, just because you don't see high-end features on some of these alternate word processors doesn't mean they don't have them. SoftMaker Office, 602 PC Suite, and EI Office are highly refined programs that have gained critical attention and loyal users around the world. Another quality that many of these powerful alternates share is their stability — no Zero-day attacks, no VB macros to exploit, and other ordinary Microsoft vulnerabilities and dangers.

While the following word processors are not dominant, they demand a specific purpose for using one of them. Often that reason is no other than to master a smaller feature set while accomplishing the same tasks one would otherwise do in the larger word processors covered in Part 1. Another reason might be simply compatibility (with Microsoft Word) without having to use Word itself. Whatever the reason, you won't find dissatisfied users of these word processors.

As for format, many come with their own proprietary format, which are almost useless if you want to share documents. All save in Microsoft's dominant .doc format. None will save in Microsoft Office 2007's MS-OOXML format. And of the seven word processors reviewed in this section, only TextMaker has an ODF import feature (but no ODF export). These word processors are not necessarily built for everyday business use, however, several could handle the task in small businesses if needed.

There are two shared traits of all these second-tier word processors: (1) each tries to match the look and feel of Word 97-2003, and often they want to bring that look and feel to a variety of platforms, and (2) they release major updates only rarely. The reason is simple: with a delimited feature set and a file format based on the market leader, there's no need to upgrade; these programs do what they need to do and no more. Bugs are ironed out with minor updates.

Which word processor in this second tier is the best? Depends on what criterion used. The most refined is TextMaker, while the most innovative is 602 PC Suite, and the most attractive UI lies with EIOffice. The others work, but don't fare so well with regard to speed and power. In other words, they quickly crash with larger documents, and frankly, that makes them useless. Still, keeping with Part 1, this review won't champion a "winner." Download, evaluate for a week composing a variety of documents; check for conversion accuracy, and consider their upgrade history — do they fix bugs? does the program tend to crash? Is its customizability suitable? and so on. If not, uninstall and try another.

 

What to consider in second-tier word processors 
• Suitability. Does it meet your needs in your business, at home, at school, or in whatever role you use it? Can you work with one at home and another at the office?

• Ease-of-use. A short learning curve. This is where the user interface (UI) makes the difference. Does it have a solid Help file to get you started?
 
• Power. Does it handle complex or large documents well, especially if you share and import with other word processors? You'll notice a word processor's performance quickly, but sooner or later, you're going to need power.

• Upgrade history. How often is the program updated? How often is a major upgrade released? Are bugs fixed in a timely manner?

• User Interface. Is it familiar or distracting? Can you find features easily? Can you setup and build your documents without frustration? In other words, does it aid or hinder your work?

• ODF as native file format. Although it could not be considered as part of this review given the age of many of these programs' last upgrade, users should look to see if any word processor they choose in the future will support the OASIS OpenDocument (ODF) format as a native file format, not just as a plugin. It's an ISO certified open standard XML document format that is being used by more and more office suite applications.


 

 

 

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TextMaker 


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WHAT TO LIKE

 

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WHAT NOT TO LIKE

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CONCLUSION
Make no mistake, TextMaker is among the strongest contenders in this DonationCoder.com word processor review. It will never frustrate you, never disappoint you, and never empty your wallet. It will, however, tackle virtually any task you can throw at it. By every measure, I would highly recommend TextMaker to anyone.

 

LINKS
Tips and Tricks for TextMaker 2006 - http://www.softmaker.com/english/tipstm_en.htm

REVIEWS
SoftMaker Press page - http://www.softmaker.com/english/ofwpress_en.htm
 

 

 

 

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Atlantis 


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WHAT TO LIKE


___________________
WHAT NOT TO LIKE

___________________
CONCLUSION
Atlantis is a fine word processor in so many ways, until you stumble across one of its deficiencies, and then it frustrates you, forcing a workaround, as in the lack of comments converted from a .doc file to its graphics shortcomings. But its power lies in its customizability. If you're wanting a word processor to dance with you rather than dictate to you, and one that packs power and speed into its document length, Atlantis should be at the top of the list.

 

LINKS
Atlantis news and changelogs - http://www.atlantiswordprocessor.com/en/news/

REVIEWS
Atlantis CNET page - http://www.download.com/Atlantis-Word-Processor/3640-2079_4-10510652.html?sb=1&v=1  

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Papyrus WORD 


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WHAT TO LIKE

 

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WHAT NOT TO LIKE

___________________
CONCLUSION
What
others lack, Papyrus more than makes up for, as its power, depth and breadth of features, along with its graphics abilities are fused into a highly stable, tightly-coded program. That Papyrus is a mature program shows. The only two things that threw me were its HTML Help file and its poor kerning. Otherwise, Papyrus brings a lot of advanced features to its word processor strengthened by its other office components. While Papyrus doesn't have a online user forum, it offers a surprising variety of phone and email support options. It's easy to see why anyone would want to register Papyrus: it's truly a robust document solution.

 

LINKS
Papyrus 12 features - http://www.rom-logicware.com/new_v12.htm

REVIEWS
AppleLinks - http://www.applelinks.com/index.php/more/charles_moore_reviews_papyrus_office_12_office_suite/
Low End Mac - http://lowendmac.com/misc/05/1121.html
 

 

 

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AbiWord 


___________________
WHAT TO LIKE


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WHAT NOT TO LIKE


AbiWord continues to suffer from broad weaknesses between its sluggish DLL and erratic UI anomalies

Help file needs updating. In several places, the Help file was incorrect, viz., concerning its interplay with .doc format. Also, the Help file blames program crashes on Windows and overallocating resources. The system used to test had 4G of memory and even with four documents open, it was only taking up 30M of memory. Finally, if I left the program open too long, it froze on me.

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CONCLUSION
While AbiWord is a good word processor in many ways, its performance consistently falls short, primarily with file handling. If a small word processor is going to lure you away from the Big 3 (StarOffice/OpenOffice, Word, and WordPerfect), then it better be good. AbiWord, however, is not good enough to justify the move unless you have very light word processing needs.

 

LINKS
Planet AbiWord blog — http://planet.abisource.com/

REVIEWS — http://www.abisource.com/reviews/
 

 

 

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Ability Write 


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WHAT TO LIKE

 

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WHAT NOT TO LIKE

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CONCLUSION
Whereas Ability Write is a highly attractive word processor, its performance from file handling to conversion to an overall lack of speed leaves it wanting. Oddly, Ability Write has collected plenty of positive reviews around the web, though I don't know why. For an affordable suite, you'd be better off with StarOffice or OpenOffice. Idiosyncrasies also mar Write's attraction, such as the arrow keys will not activate submenus, but only kicks you to the next menu; typing the first letter of a font does not jump to that part of your font list, and when you reopen the font list, it opens to the top of the list, not your present font; and no dialog was resizable. Its inability to handle references well; that is, to write a simple term paper makes Ability Write a poor choice among this group.

 

LINKS
Ability Office website - http://www.ability-usa.com/index.php

REVIEWS
National media reviews - http://www.ability-usa.com/reviews.php (Testimonials box list)  

 

 

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EIOffice 


___________________
WHAT TO LIKE

 

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WHAT NOT TO LIKE

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CONCLUSION
EIOffice is arguably the most advanced and complete of all the second-tier word processors. However, its weaknesses are glaring, even distracting, as if the program was built, but the tedious details were never finished. Its greatest strength — its cloning of (and improvement on) Microsoft Word 2003 — is also its greatest limitation. It's seamless integration of word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation apps is stunning. And I didn't even mention its Science Editor, which is a fully integrated math and science editor designed to support complex illustrations and equations directly in the active document. If all this sounds like a bargain at $99, download EIOffice and spend a month working in it; it may well be what you've been looking for all along.

 

LINKS
EIOffice Development - http://www.chinatechnews.com/2004/05/18/1151-latest-edition-of-eioffice-goes-on-global-market/

REVIEWS
Flexbeta - http://www.flexbeta.net/main/printarticle.php?id=62
Nicholas Petreley - http://software.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=04/05/27/158237
CXO Today - http://www.cxotoday.com/cxo/jsp/article.jsp?article_id=969&cat_id=911  

 

 

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PolyEdit 


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WHAT TO LIKE

 

 

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WHAT NOT TO LIKE

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CONCLUSION
PolyEdit exhibits good design, but poor execution. And its faults really stand out, to the point of making it unusable for business and academic use. And let's be frank: without those two groups of users, your word processor is pretty much dead on the side of the road. Most development on
PolyEdit was complete years ago, in 2003. Too bad, as this could be an outstanding word processor in its own right with continued work.

 

LINKS
PolyEdit on Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PolyEdit (Yea, maybe someone should work on this.)

REVIEWS
CPU - http://www.computerpoweruser.com/editorial/article.asp?article=articles/archive/c0505/39c05/39c05.asp
 

 

 

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602 Text 


___________________
WHAT TO LIKE

 

___________________
WHAT NOT TO LIKE

___________________
CONCLUSION
I've used and recommended 602PC Suite to friends for over a decade because it's a clever program that serves one's needs between word processor and spreadsheet. Also, like so many of the second-tier word processors listed here, the learning curve is minimal, meaning you can get straight to work. 602Text has long been a solid word processor, with almost no bugs, and it had features years in advance of Microsoft Word, such as barcodes, wordcount on the toolbar, statistics in the Properties dialog, and best of all, 602Text treats objects and text in separate modes, reducing complexity and eliminating the source of many user errors. This makes it ideal for of all people, students writing research papers. Because of the attention to extras and details, 602Text can serve the student's needs well. 602Text is not without weaknesses, and as noted, they stand out. While the program generously gives you many cool features, it quickly takes them back by not providing one or two more options (endnotes, ODF support, no autocorrect, a weak dictionary).

 

LINKS
602PC Suite Knowledge Base - http://support.software602.com/kb/

REVIEWS
602PC Suite Reviews page - http://www.software602.com/products/pcs/reviews.html
 

 

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Introduction, Part 3: Online word processors 
 
Online, or Web 2.0, word processors have received a lot of press attention in the past year. Almost all of that attention has focused on the potential and promise of online productivity software, even some suites like Zoho and ThinkFree. However, just as potentiality is not actuality, Web 2.0 word processors are still in their infancy, tethered to the broad limitations of trying to shoehorn the browser into a desktop application mold. Regardless of browser type, you must enable cookies and JavaScript (which allows it to run on any platform).

Online word processors are also judged by what one intends to do with them and how. For example, if you intend to run a small business through online applications, you'll only succeed if your productivity needs are slight at best, and you're willing to subjugate performance to ubiquity. If you're an individual who has come to think the idea of not buying, loading, updating, and tweaking office software on your system is worth handing over to a Web 2.0 company who will do all that for you, then you may well be a candidate. For light users, you're going to be surprised at how well these apps will serve your needs, perhaps going so far to replace current desktop suites.

The primary strength of online word processors are their accessibility through various file formats, file sharing, and collaboration. Document mobility cannot be overrated. The secondary strength is online storage. It allows you to create documents and spreadsheets without the need to save to your local hard drive (although you do have the option to save a copy to your hard drive, if you like). Because online word processors save to a secure, online storage facility, you can access your documents from any computer, and, in the event of a local hard drive crash, you won't lose your saved content online. The tertiary strength is obvious: collaboration capability.

What to consider in online word processors 
• Suitability. Does it meet your needs in your business, at home, at school, or in whatever role you use it? Can you work with one at home and another at the office?

• Collaboration features. Are they easy to setup? Do they work as intended, with the ability to grant levels of access?
 
• Power. Does it handle complex or large documents well, especially if you share and import with other word processors? You'll notice a word processor's performance quickly, but sooner or later, you're going to need power.

• Scalability. Can it grow when your needs grow?

• User Interface. Is it familiar or distracting? Can you find features easily? Can you setup and build your documents without frustration? In other words, does it aid or hinder your work?

• File format support. Does it support the OASIS OpenDocument (ODF) format as well as .doc format? And don't forget about PDF support; you'll eventually need it. (None, however, support Office 2007's MS-OOXML format.)


 

 

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Google Docs 


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WHAT TO LIKE



   

 

 

 

   

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WHAT NOT TO LIKE

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CONCLUSION
Google Docs is here to stay If you've ever worked with FrontPage 2003, that's where Google Docs is at (on a word processing level).. While Google has taken baby steps so far, they continue to iron out the kinks and have so far managed to keep its interface stupid-simple. After all, isn't the whole point with a pared down word processor to get in, get out, and share your work? By not complicating the interface, users can dive right in — browser familiarity alone gets you past first base. An autosave feature that doesn't just save, but saves versions every minute will never let your document die from a power surge or outage. There are lots of obvious advantages to an online word processor such as Google Docs, and if you want to see why, start here.

 

LINKS
Google Docs & Spreadsheets Blog - http://google-d-s.blogspot.com/
Google Docs & Spreadsheets Help Center - http://docs.google.com/support/
Google Docs & Spreadsheets Tour - http://www.google.com/google-d-s/tour1.html

REVIEWS
PCWorld - http://blogs.pcworld.com/techlog/archives/003783.html
ComputerWorld - http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9007884
CNET - http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-9239_7-6627472-1.html
 

 

 

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ThinkFree Office Write 


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WHAT TO LIKE

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WHAT NOT TO LIKE

 



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CONCLUSION
While ThinkFree Write gives a good impression on setup, its execution is deeply flawed. In fact, everything that was good about Google Docs — lightweight, responsive, easy to use, familiar tools, etc., are all garbled in ThinkFree. Though the website proclaims it's still in beta (since 2000?!), it's time to take training wheels off and get serious. There's not a lot to recommend here, and compared to Google Docs and Zoho, Although some reviewers raved about ThinkFree, it left me scratching my head, as if the ThinkFree team was way over their heads.

 

LINKS
ThinkFree Docs (Search, Share, and Publish) - http://www.thinkfreedocs.com/

REVIEWS
ComputerWorld - http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9007884
ExtremeTech - http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,1952434,00.asp
CNET - http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-9239_7-6627472-1.html
 

 

 

Zoho Writer 


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WHAT TO LIKE



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WHAT NOT TO LIKE

 

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CONCLUSION
Zoho Writer combines the best of both word processing and HTML worlds in one online package. You can even use a CSS file as a template for your documents (more support for this on the way, too), making Zoho Writer a natural frontend for blogging. Faster than any other online app reviewed here with regard to upload speed, UI responsiveness, and navigation — you really get to see what AJAX can do here. Zoho Writer doesn't waste space, either. By combining text, icons, toolbars, tabs, buttons, a sliding sidebar file explorer, along with a tight workspace, it clearly is built for productivity. Good design is when you take the best of others and bend them to your needs. With Zoho Writer you can get right to work with no learning curve at all. Even better, you can create (or learn!) a lot of cool HTML, and to a lesser extent CSS code with the documents you create using it. After using it for a short while, I'm willing to bet you'll like it better than your desktop word processor — it's that good.

 

LINKS
Zoho Writer FAQs - http://writer.zoho.com/public/help/zohowriterfaq/fullpage
Read/Write Web - http://www.readwriteweb.com/

REVIEWS
ComputerWorld - http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9007884
ConsumerGuide Products - http://products.howstuffworks.com/adventnet-zoho-writer-review.htm
CNET - http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-9239_7-6627472-1.html

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Other online word processors that were considered but not included in this review, because we didn't feel they were up to the same quality as the other online tools at the time this article was published (June 11, 2007):

 — Ajax13
 — FlySuite FlyWord
 — Glide Write





 


SUMMARY

 

Summary 
As word processing continues its steady progression from the printer to electronic documents like PDF and eventually to the web, the most successful word processors will be those that are best able to put words online, for all to read. For now, the landscape will remain fractured among traditional paper-and-printer word processors to hybrids like Microsoft Word 2007 to online apps which have come astonishingly far in the past year due to creative coding using AJAX. And let's not forget the most prolific force of writing we've seen in history: blogging. Blogging tools alone have moderated any expanded use of word processors and unleashed a generation of creative catharsis that I hope will never diminish.


Telling someone which word processor is best is like telling someone which browser is better; I'll leave that up to you. As you've read through the review, there are many good choices, and always more than one that will fit your needs and workflow. And if you reread it, you'll notice that the major word processors are in a gray area right now, still tied to the desktop (naturally), but wondering how to tie themselves to the web. All the second-tier word processors suffered — by design — from cloning a former version of Microsoft Word. A good idea which has outlived its usefulness. But whether you'll ever use them or not, the online word processors are exciting. They each are limited by their canvas, the browser. But there is something nice about never having to upgrade, to install, to update, to validate your word processor software if it's done (online) for you.

Finally, my only advice is to look beyond any one word processor and seek openness in your choice of file format. Do not allow yourself and your data to be locked-in to the whim of any one vendor. ODF can be used by any word processor if the vendor so chooses, and it satisfies the criteria outlined by Sam Hiser of: "(1) being developed and maintained in an open, multi-vendor, multi-stakeholder process that protects against control by a single organization; (2) being the only openly-available standard, published fully in a document that is freely available and easy to comprehend; (3) being the only format unencumbered by intellectual property rights (IPR) restrictions on its use in other software, as certified by the Software Freedom Law Center; and (4) offering interoperability with ODF-compliant applications on the common operating system platforms of Windows, GNU/Linux, and OS X, along with most online word processing apps."

For myself, here are my own personal choices within each category and the briefest reasons why.

Major Word Processor
StarOffice/OpenOffice, because of its universal file format in ODF, it's roadmap, and the fact that it is Open source.
          Runner-up: Microsoft Word 2007, because it's essentially a desktop publishing app now.


Second-tier Word Processor
TextMaker for its polish, accurate .doc conversion, and multi-platform support.
          Runner-up: 602Text, for its stability.

Online Word Processor
Zoho Writer, because of its strong HTML formatting and feature set unique to any word processor online or desktop, and its ODF support.

          Runner-up: Google Docs, because it's fast, easy, and never loses a document nor lets you make a mistake.

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This article was written by Zaine Ridling, an occasional DonationCoder.com reviewer who runs The Great Software List.

 

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