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Software Microsoft

AbiWord vs. MS Word, For Now 511

Gsurface writes "If you have decided that it is time to kill MS Word, then it is time to look for an alternative. Flexbeta.net compares AbiWord, part of a larger project known as AbiSource, with MS Word and asks: is AbiWord a worthy MS Word replacement? Not to ruin the ending but according to the article the only draw back to AbiWord is that it currently does not feature a grammar checker, though a plug-in is in the works." (Also on this front, AbiWord's native Mac OS X version is labeled experimental, but seems to work very nicely.)
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AbiWord vs. MS Word, For Now

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  • Sadly... (Score:5, Informative)

    by cs02rm0 ( 654673 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @08:54AM (#10127648)
    ...these things usually need to be able to work with Word formats and that's fine with AbiWord as long as you keep to text only. Start adding fancy lines and stuff in Word and view it with AbiWord, or vice versa, and things start to fall apart.

    Haven't got any complaints with it as a standalone piece of software, I only tend to use about 2% of a word processor's features myself though.
    • Re:Sadly... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Lord_Raptor ( 738466 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @09:36AM (#10128113) Journal
      Shouldn't this become easier in the Future with new Versions of Office (2003+) Looks like MS is going forward with XML, which should make plugins and filters much easier. Simple filters should be as easy as a XML transform. They also seem to be offering Royalty free licenses and documentation to the reference Schemas. info: http://www.microsoft.com/office/xml/default.mspx
      • Re:Sadly... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Haeleth ( 414428 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:29AM (#10129663) Journal
        Simple filters should be as easy as a XML transform.

        This is a popular fallacy. But XML only says how the data is stored - it says absolutely nothing about what data is stored.

        Consider how you might store a table layout in XML. There are literally thousands of ways you might go about it. The chances of you and someone else even choosing to store the same bits of information, let alone with a similar structure, are, frankly, pretty slim. So, no, it's not "easy as an XML transform". The only advantage of XML is that it makes it easier to read the data -- but the tricky part is interpreting it, and XML does nothing to help there.
    • Fancy stuff (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @10:44AM (#10129076)
      I'd like to see more fancy stuff. A simple grammar checker would be very nice. The MS one overextends and is very stylistic to say the least. Catching simple grammar errors (hey proofreading on a computer screen sucks) would be a step in the right direction.

      I'd also like to see the OO.org people (and others) and the abiword people decide on one text format. I dont know which one is superior, but Word's real advantage is the ubiquity of the .doc format.
    • Re:Sadly... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Zardoz44 ( 687730 )
      Am I the only one that notices the whole line of text flicker in Abiword when typing. This drives me nuts. It's a small, slick-looking tool, but this is one of those make-it or break-it features.

      To clarify this, I tried on several machines of different speeds, all with the same results. Just open a new document and type gibberish on a single line and let it wrap. When you get near the end of a line, all the text starts to have a refresh issue. It's not a machine limitation because it's the same between 20

  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @08:54AM (#10127650)
    According to the article AbiWord is better because of the larger icons as they are easier to distinguish. The smaller memory footprint which is ~6MB instead of what they claim is ~30MB for Word but which I claim is only ~17MB according to my tasklist).

    Once we move into the "Features" section I lose all interest in the comparison... It's apparent that the reviewer doesn't really have a clue how to use Word, take for example: Another great feature in AbiWord is the insert field option. The reviewer fails to mention that Word has many of the same features located under Insert->Date/Time. As far as an updated word counter... That shows in my toolbar (so far I have 120 words). If he was doing this to show what AbiWord can do that Word can do too I don't exactly think he chose the most important item to compare. Personally I would be more interested in a comparison of the quality of documents loaded from other versions. If AbiWord can load a Word97 and Word2000 document better than OfficeXP can then I would be impressed. That's just me though (I have a feeling this would be an important thing to look at for others as well).

    The size of AbiWord is a big boost though. The author claims it's around 5MB. If that's true that's pretty good for what you get. I had tried to use AbiWord back in the day while futzing around trying to work on Linux in a Windows world but it failed to meet my needs. For those with small amounts of RAM or a complete need to be MSFT free this seems like a good alternative.

    Overall the "review" was weak. I didn't see any points that would make me want to rush out and install AbiWord over any other word processing offering. He basically pointed out some quick things he stumbled upon and didn't do any real digging. Honestly, it's not worth the time spent clicking through the multiple pages.
    • EVERY feature he noted for AbiWord is one that Word already has. Even that "shrink text when change window size" is in there.

      This is why Word is still the dominate WP. It's got at least a little bit of everything you need; if you're willing to live with some odd quirks, you can even use it to replace almost all of the rest of Office.

      • by BenjyD ( 316700 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @09:17AM (#10127894)
        It's also $200 or so (unless you get it with a new computer).

        I'd call randomly corupting files and moving images around more than annoying quirks. The fact is, Word's only killer feature is 100% Word compatibility. Combine that with a monopoly, saturation advertising and restrictive licensing deals with OEMs and you have a WP that's hard to beat.

        • "I'd call randomly corrupting files and moving images around more than annoying quirks." Mod parent up! Exactly right.

          Several people had told me about this, but I don't often use MS Word, so I have only recently seen it myself. I was working on an MS Word document, that someone else had started in Word, for about 4 hours. I saved the document frequently. Eventually I tried to save and got only an error message. MS Word would not open its own file, and would not open the backup. My work was lost, apparently.

          I decided to try something I had heard about on Slashdot. I tried opening the trashed document in Open Office. No problem, it opened immediately. Then I saved the document in MS Word .DOC format, and it opened fine in Word. So, if you use MS Word, you should also install Open Office, because OO is sometimes a necessary tool to make MS Word work.

          Another story: Someone gave me an MS Excel spreadsheet. I opened it in Excel, but was unable to discover how to make the row and column headings stay visible when I scrolled to the right or down. The Excel help was no help.

          I opened the Excel spreadsheet in OO. The OO help was clear about how to make headings stationary. I did what it said, and saved the file as an MS Excel file. Then I opened it in MS Excel, and it worked fine. Again, OO showed that it is a very useful MS Office tool.
          • by Joe5678 ( 135227 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @10:40AM (#10129026)
            Having Word fix corrupted Word documents

            File -> Open

            Click on corrupted file, click on pull down menu on the "Open" button, select "Open and Repair"
          • by doublem ( 118724 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @12:32PM (#10130372) Homepage Journal
            I agree with you.

            OpenOffice is frequently used at my last job, because I showed people how to use it to open Word and Excel files that Office couldn't. I also found that some graphics intensive Word Files eat up a lot more RAM in Office than in OpenOffice. We received a series of documents from a client. The client has pushed their 3GHz machines with 2 Gig of RAM to the limit creating the file, and we could NOT work with the resulting files in Word.

            Then I opened the files in OpenOffice and Abiword, both of which were able to let us work with the files and do what we needed to do.

            The formatting wasn't that complex, the issue was all the graphics used in the documents.

            Word crapped out, and took 45 minutes to copy segments of text to the clipboard.

            The other apps let us use the files easily, and made it possible to copy and paste text out of them. (The people who needed the files were loading the content into an Online Learning system.)

            Abiword and OpenOffice are now standard installs for people in the content department, as well as on a couple machines in the Sales department. Not even Office XP's restore and recovery functions work as well.
        • by soybean ( 1120 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @09:52AM (#10128326)
          I'm sorry, but word just does NOT have 100% word compatibility. Give me ANY two versions of word, and I can generage a doc on one version that doesn't load properly on the other version.
        • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @09:57AM (#10128402) Homepage Journal
          Make that 99.5% Word compatibility. Word sometimes screws up the rendering of complex documents after they have been saved and reopened. Of course, you shouldn't be using it as a page layout tool.
        • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:36AM (#10129762) Homepage
          Word's only killer feature is 100% Word compatibility.

          which it DOES NOT HAVE.

          Word 2003 is not 100% compatable with Word 97. word 2000 had trouble with word95 AND word97 files.

          there are HUGE compatability problems between versions of Word that make the switch to Open Office look like tiny annoyances.

          Microsoft intentionally does not want 100% compatability with previous version of the .DOC file format... It would allow that small office with 3 employees to continue to happily use their Office 95 CD's they got back in 1995 and work perfectly fine for them.

          Microsoft does not like nor want that.

          • Nooo... you've bought back my memories of the summer internship I spent writing VBA code in Office 97. I'd been trying to block that out.

            After two months flat-out coding, in the last week, most of the company upgraded to Office 2000 . My program just refused to run at all on 2000. I spent the last week trying to make it work, but nothing I did made any difference. I had to scrabble around for an older machine with 97 on it just to do a demonstration to proce I'd done any work at all.
    • Several Microsoft programs hide their actual memory usage under "system" since their components are loaded/created as Windows components.

      I'd love to have someone verify the above, since the source I had for it became a 404 more than a year ago though.

    • by Mongoose Disciple ( 722373 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @09:09AM (#10127817)
      If AbiWord can load a Word97 and Word2000 document better than OfficeXP can then I would be impressed. That's just me though (I have a feeling this would be an important thing to look at for others as well).

      Yup. Like it or not, the reality is that Word is the standard in the realm of word processors. Now, you can grab the odd caveman who's never seen Word and teach them to use your word processor, but to really gain users, you're going to have to steal some market share from Word. You don't necessarily need to emulate all of Word's features and quirks to get those users, but they're probably going to want to be able to use their old documents.

      We really don't know from the review how AbiWord handles this at all. It might do a great job or a terrible job; we just don't know. Honestly, I'd rather see a review from someone who is an experienced user of Word, even if they're less technical.

      • by Dan Ost ( 415913 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @10:00AM (#10128443)
        Like it or not, the reality is that Word is the standard in the realm of word processors.

        Not if you work in a legal office. WordPerfect is the standard there.

        Just thought you might like to know.
        • It definitely used to be. I did a little temping in legal offices way back in the day and they were all WordPerfect, which was fortunate because that's what I knew.

          I don't think that's really as true anymore, though. At least, everyone I personally know in that industry has long since migrated to Word.

      • Word couldn't be the standard, for example, in the place I work for, because it doesn't run on SuSE or Slackware, and we just have a win 2000 as a print server (location issues).

        We use Open Office 1.1.2, which does a great job in handling different versions of .DOCs, a much better job that most versions of Word I have met.

        OO 1.0 was not as good, but with this version, we have had no problem whatsoever when interchanging documents with other MS-only shops, including clients.

        We thought about using terminal
      • We really don't know from the review how AbiWord handles this at all. It might do a great job or a terrible job; we just don't know. Honestly, I'd rather see a review from someone who is an experienced user of Word, even if they're less technical.

        Interesting that you should ask for that. I've been thinking about writing (another) "review" of StarOffice/OpenOffice compared to MS Office. I'm a manager at a large university, and I moved to a Linux desktop about 2 yrs ago. I get lots of Word/Excel/PPT doc

    • I've used AbiWord for quite a while now, and to met it's like an open-source Word for Windows 2. It runs on a 486, it's straightforward, and it's got all the features most people need. It was the next version, Word 6, that started getting bloated and feature-heavy. Once the OS X version gets a little more usable, I'll try dumping Word 2004.
    • by toopc ( 32927 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @09:26AM (#10127996)

      You've hit upon a huge problem Word has, and acutally has had for quite some time --making the features disoverable.

      As a previous poster said many people only use 2% of the features of a program like Microsoft Word. Which is to say they use it just ever so slightly different than they would use a typewriter. Just about nobody reads the help files on software, so although Word can probably do a half dozen different things they'd find useful, they may never discover those features. I can't count the number of times on some messageboard where someone has said, "I wish Word could do this," only to have me reply, "It can" and show them how.

      So that leads to the obvious problems like you've found in this review. I use something like Open Office Writer or AbiWord and I immediately notice all the things they can't do that Word can. While someone who only uses 2% of the features of Word thinks it's a direct feature match up.

  • It's nice. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tyler Eaves ( 344284 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @08:54AM (#10127657)
    Abiword is really a nice little word processor. Quite trim, nice looking GUI. Works as advertised. Much nicer than the WP part of OO.org. Also, while on the subject, gNumeric is much nicer than the spreadsheet part of OO.org.
    • Ah but Gnumeric is missing a very key feature that is required in the business I'm in. It doesn't automatically interpret HTML tables as a spreadsheet. With both OOCalc and Excel, if you have an HTML table labeled as an .xls file, either program will automatically open it as if it were an excel file. Incredibly useful feature for custom web programming with report generation.
  • by wackysootroom ( 243310 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @08:57AM (#10127678) Homepage
    One thing that Abiword has that Open Office doesn't is a Word Perfect Filter.

    Our organization *really* wants to kill WP, but can't replace it with open office because there is no WP filter. Does the WP filter that comes with ABIWord work well?
  • More choices is good, especialy for a lightweight word processor. This article at least makes me want to look at this word processor, although I found the article itself a little light (no real criticisms, which I find peculiar because of the nature of word processors, which always have quirks/issues).
  • by danormsby ( 529805 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @08:58AM (#10127681) Homepage
    The download [abisource.com] is 5MB. 5MB!!! This is what I want in a document editor.
    • 5MB!!! This is what I want in a document editor.

      Unless you're running a 486SX with a 200MB HD that's got to be the stupidest requirement for a document editor I've ever heard of. Fuck the size! Fuck the memory footprint! Who cares? This is 2004. I've got half a terabyte of storage. I've got 2 gigs of memory. I can download a 100 meg file in under 5 minutes. You're not going to sell me on a document editor because it's small. lol.

  • AbiWord advantage (Score:3, Informative)

    by dtfinch ( 661405 ) * on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @08:58AM (#10127687) Journal
    Tiny download, very fast load time, about 1/3 second for me on the first run.
  • by Karamchand ( 607798 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @08:59AM (#10127698)
    While I was really successful converting my family away from MSIE to Firefox I wonder whether the migration from MS Word to AbiWord would be as problem-free either. For example my sisters used MS Word to write and format their disserations (whether this in itself is good or bad doesn't matter here; no, they won't use LaTeX). Would AbiWord be able to do all this stuff as well? Various headings, automatics index and TOC generation, various styles? I'd be very glad if you could help me with the decision whether I should start this conversion too! Thanks!
    • don't count on it. AbiWord has been hacking at it for years without getting out of beta stage. You're better off trying Open Office for now.
    • Do you have anything that requires moving back to MS Word? A layout program, a PDA document editor, ANYTHING at all?

      If so, stick to Word.

      Do you not need to move back to Word at all, but require tables, headings, indexes, and TOC?

      Then go to OpenOffice.org

      Use Abiword only if you just need a "rich text editor". I wouldn't even try to use it to write a dissertation.
  • by weeboo0104 ( 644849 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @08:59AM (#10127703) Journal
    I don't have a problem with abiword not having a grammer checker, It's unpossible to add-in every function that everybody would want right off the bat there. It's not like I ever used those grammer check things anyways.

    • Seriously though look at (MS) Word's grammar checker sometime.

      Not every "which" needs a comma, not every capitalized word needs to be de-capitalized, my bibliography doesn't need to form sentences...

      Look at this sentence:

      "The things that letter says speak volumes about how children need to feel about themselves."

      Where is the error? Word tells me this is correct:

      "The things that letter say speak volumes about how children need to feel about themselves."

      Although two english professors say the first one
      • Your English 'professor' may like it, but try giving it to anyone who writes for a living (or a real editor), and they'll put a nice big red line though it, being that it's mostly unreadable.

        - Single 'that' when two would be clearer
        - 'says' and 'speak' next to each other
        - But basically: far too many words used

        No wonder you pissed off Word.

        If you were to rewrite it, I'd suggest:

        "The letter says a great deal about how children should feel about themselves"
  • Fair Comparison? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pedestrian crossing ( 802349 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @09:00AM (#10127712) Homepage Journal
    How about comparing AbiWord to MS Works, that's what most folks at least used to get on their OEM installation...
    • MS Works is more than a word processor though.
      • Which was the grandparents point I believe. They were implying (I think) that you're not likely to replace your word processor / spreadsheet / presentation software with just a word processor no matter how good the word processing program is.

        It is apples and oranges, but still a valid consideration...

  • by bman08 ( 239376 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @09:01AM (#10127717)
    Just last week I put Word, Abiword and Ooffice head to head on outlining a project. All I want is simple, collapsible outlines that I can easily modify and are labeled I., A., 1., a., etc...

    The result... nobody wins. Word comes closest, but I still spent so much time wrestling with the software that I just grabbed a piece of paper and got my work done in record time. (course it was way harder to email)

  • by Noryungi ( 70322 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @09:02AM (#10127726) Homepage Journal
    ... is that Abiword is slow on my machine, which is reasonably powered (Pentium III 800MHz, 384MB of RAM).

    I spend most of my days writing for a living, and I need something that is fast . One of the reasons WordPerfect 5.1 is still one of my favourite program of all time is its sheer speed.

    Up until then, I used Ted [nllgg.nl], which is a very nice little program, but I am more and more annoyed by its shortcomings (no 'undo'? I mean, come on!).

    Anyway... I recently upgraded my machine to Slackware 10 [slackware.com], and I'll give Abiword another try.

    Which is actually a good 'Ask Slashdot' question: what do you use for word processing and desktop publishing? Again, I need something fast and stable, with a reasonable feature set. Cute GUI and eye candy and even anti-aliased fonts are optional.
  • OO.o and Abiword both have "experimental" Mac OS X native versions. While you can run OO.o through X11, it doesn't support things like copy-paste from non-X11 applications, something everyone uses. I imagine that it won't be long until Apple uses some of the source for OO.o to create their own, iLife-compatible Office software that reads and writes MS file formats. They did it with KHTML (for Safari, my browser of choice), and if the folks who are making these fine products don't get cracking, they'll do it
    • by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @09:31AM (#10128049) Homepage
      OO.o and Abiword both have "experimental" Mac OS X native versions. While you can run OO.o through X11, it doesn't support things like copy-paste from non-X11 applications, something everyone uses.

      True, but I'm a recent convert to NeoOffice/J [neooffice.org], frequently mentioned on here, which is a wrapped-version of OOo that does support native cut and paste, along with double-clickable documents from the Finder and vastly improved font-rendering.

      That last point is worth stressing - I used OOo through X11 and working with imported spreadsheets was a pain due to the vast font differences. This is vastly improved in NeoOffice. In fact the issue is gone for me, but I'm not so rash as to say gone for everyone.

      Cheers,
      Ian

  • Good starting point (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Un0r1g1nal ( 711750 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @09:03AM (#10127740)
    If Abiword is to take over M$ word, it is going to still need a lot of work, however it's good to see something that looks like it will continue to progress into something greater. It doesn't yet have that much functionality, but this is something that can be built upon as they develop.

    To be able to use it cross platform is probably the best function, users tend to not like change. Get them used to a certain desktop/layout and if anything changes they don't know what to do with themselves, they need training in the new applications and functionality of them. If the basic word processing and other similar basic and necessary apps are able to stay constant, so to speak, it may give more encouragment to admins to start the bold plunge of rolling out more linux based systems.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @09:04AM (#10127765)
    All grammar checkers do is irritate the literate by flagging false positives, while instilling a false sense of confidence in the illiterate, who proceed to perpetrate horrors on the defenceless English language -- and, should the error of their ways be pointed out, they then claim that they must be right, because the grammar checker said they were!

    Grammar checkers should be banned until one can demonstrate the ability to parse English correctly in the general case. Hint: this has not yet been achieved even in high-tech research programs running on supercomputers, let alone in consumer products.
  • The first thing I do after killing Clippy is disabling the grammar checker. The thing is such a piece of garbage... the last thing I need is for a computer to tell me how to write.
    • BIG SIGH (Score:2, Funny)

      Yea yea... it should be "disable" and not "disabling". If it makes anyone feel any better next time I'm up all night drinking I'll be sure to proofread my posts before hitting the submit button. *smacks forehead*

      However, I do stand by my initial assertion that the grammar checker is relatively useless for someone with a strong writing background and who regularly proofreads their work.
      • Re:BIG SIGH (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by caitsith01 ( 606117 )
        So you're up all night drinking and the best thing you can think of to do is post about grammar on a computer geek website?

        They aren't kidding when they say 'news for nerds', are they?
  • Well, my experience (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AbbyNormal ( 216235 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @09:05AM (#10127774) Homepage
    I just got rid of the latest version of AbiWord for Open Office. I was trying to save a new file into a Word document format for a customer, and for whatever reason, the file would NOT be read by MS OFFICE (2000 or XP) no matter what the version I saved it as. I switched to Open Office and had no problems after. I'm not touting one or the other, just letting people know of my experiences (and most likely other's who are also experimenting switching their Office suite out).
  • by vasqzr ( 619165 ) <vasqzr.netscape@net> on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @09:07AM (#10127790)
    Another feature I found unique to AbiWord is when you restore the AbiWord application itself, make is smaller, the text within your document is minimized. If you look at the screenshots below, you will notice how the text is made smaller when the AbiWord window is restored. The first screenshot shows AbiWord maximized while the second screenshot shows AbiWord restored; notice how the text is minimized in the restored screenshot. This feature is useful because you don't have to scroll sideways to view the entire text. Also shown below is MS Word restored to show the differences between the two.

    Ever heard of 'Fit to page' ?

    Another great feature in AbiWord is the insert field option. Under the Insert tab you can choose to insert a field such as date and time. If you choose to insert time, you will actually insert a clock into your document as the screenshot below demonstrates.

    Word has this too!

    Abiword doesn't even have text boxes or math equation editors yet.

    I would have loved to have this application around back when I was running Windows 98 on my Compaq Presario with 64MB of RAM

    Want a small, fast, Word-compatible word processor?

    Try Word 97. Or hell, even Works.
  • I use AbiWord under Windows 2k and the only thing that disturbs me is the strange spacing of some texts (maybe depends on the type of font). Anyway it works fine for me.
  • by caitsith01 ( 606117 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @09:08AM (#10127803) Journal
    according to the article the only draw back to AbiWord is that it currently does not feature a grammar checker, though a plug-in is in the works.

    -insert lame jokes with really poor grammar here-

    But seriously folks... Is a grammar checker really that important a feature? I find that in Word, I turn it off because it drives me crazy. For one thing it is often out and out wrong. It will suggest corrections where none should exist, and falter on the more finessed rules of grammar such as singular references to indefinite pronouns [llrx.com] or the subjunctive [englishclub.com]. Try typing "here be dragons" into Word and you'll see what I mean. If you're a pirate, Word is next to useless for noting up treasure maps, and that's just one of its many grammatical flaws for average users.

    To me, these rules are the things that make English interesting and enjoyable. Products like the Word grammar checker just make people lazy and reduce the need to actually know the rules. Instead of making a computer do it we should take the time to learn the subtle details of our language. If you don't know the rules, not only will you struggle to express yourself but you will miss the details in other people's words. In this sense it's all a bit cyclic - the more our word processors fix our spelling and grammar for us, the more we devolve into a community of people with the linguistic skills of George Bush, totally dependent on pressing 'F7' to help us construct our sentences.

    Or to forget the learned discussion and just quote the damn Simpsons like I was going to in the first place:

    Lisa: Almost done. Just lay still.
    Linguo: Lie still.
    Lisa: I knew that. Just testing.
    Linguo: Sentence fragment.
    Lisa: 'Sentence fragment' is also a sentence fragment.
    Linguo: Must conserve battery power... *switches himself off*
    • I've posted about this before...

      In my opinion, YES - in quite a number of environments a grammar checker is a vital feature of a word processor. I don't want to take ultimate control away from the user but I do want an optional feature to highlight syntactic structures which are not 'straight forward'.

      To all the trolls who insist that a grammar checker is a crutch which will ultimately damage the user's literary skills, all I can do is recommend you try to read some hastily written factual documents from
    • by Cereal Box ( 4286 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @11:47AM (#10129907)
      But seriously folks... Is a grammar checker really that important a feature?

      Zealotry in action. If an open source program lacks a feature that many people agree is important, it's a "stupid, useless feature that no one uses." Once said open source program implements the feature, it's the greatest thing since sliced bread.
  • by farzadb82 ( 735100 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @09:09AM (#10127814)
    What most people fail to realize is that Word and its office brethren, is better, not because of its glorified feature set but rather because of its interoprability between other Windows apps and between other Office components. By this I mean that I can use the Word/Excel/PPT/Outlook automation engines from within my own code or through VBA to do stuff like producing reports, precalculated spreadsheets, etc.

    Until Open Source alternatives can provide this level of functionality, MS Office and its components, will still dominate the market.

    • That is codswallop, and shows a lack of understanding of open source, and that you fail to realise the following.

      1) AbiWord is opensource, by definition that means you are able to use and part of its code through any applications you write. Id go so far as to say that its Open Source nature makes it more functional and flexible in this area than M$ Office which is closed source.

      2) AbiWord is just as interoperable between other Linux apps and distributions as M$ office is to Windows, in addition AbiWord is
  • Having no grammar checker or having a grammar checker that's wrong more than it's right?!

  • "the only draw back to AbiWord is that it currently does not feature a grammar checker,"

    Are you kidding? This is not a draw back, this is a selling point of high order. The Word grammar checker is worse than worthless. It creates more problems than it solves. It is so by the book that it cannot distinguish well-structured grammar from incorrect grammar at times. It offers suggestions that can be downright wrong. For every thing it catches correctly, it nags you with a dozen worthless suggestions.

    I

  • The grammar checker in Word is one of its most annoying 'features'. Perhaps my grammar is poor, perhaps Word is using US grammar styles which may differ from the rest of the planet or perhaps it's cr4p.

    The only useful feature I've found in it is the "double word" finder. I do not need something telling me that it does like the use of passive case or even that it considers the word "postman" liable to cause offence!
    OOo hasn't got one (yet) and when it does I will be turning as much of it off as possible
  • I have been installing software602's office package on friend and family's computers for quite some time now, and it works great.

    It's free, small and runs quick (no bloat).

    www.software602.com

    The company has an interesting history, check that out too.
  • I love abiword - i was running one of the old blue g3's (350 mhz or so) and openoffice, the default word processor in YellowDog was taking 15-20 seconds to open, while abiword would open in 2 or 3, and had all the features needed.
  • AbiWord is good (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @09:29AM (#10128026) Journal
    And OO.o really isn't that bad either.

    But in every office I've been in, the app that keeps them locked into MS Office is Access.

    I know there are a million and one scripting languages and database engines out there in the FOSS world. Anything available as a package that could drop in and replace Access? It would need to import it's data, make it as easy as possible to migrate it's VBA code and forms?

    I've screwed around with mysql + various front ends (perl, tcl+tk, java), and it's not the same. End users need all the visual drag and drop kind of stuff, they don't want to touch code.

    Access is no industrial-strength RDBMS, but it's a pretty decent for plenty of single-user data mangling, and of course the magical keyphrase is it's *easy to use*.

    Doesn't matter how good AbiWord or OO.o get, until we can ditch Access, MS Office will reign in much of the business world.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 01, 2004 @09:38AM (#10128135)
    i love abiword, but won't use it until it supports the OASIS file format. i'm tired of have .docs, .abws, .sxws, .kwds and no common program to read them. three of them are open standards, there's no reason word, abiword, kword, and OO.o shouldn't support abw and sxw and kwd. preferably, i'd say everything should support sxw (which i'm happy to see koffice doing), but that's just my pipe dream.

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