Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 24th Aug 2005 12:20 UTC
Features, Office OpenOffice.org receives most of the attention among FOSS office suites, but users shouldn't forget that free software includes at least two other word processors: AbiWord, and KWord, part of the KOffice suite. From their inception, both have been playing catch-up with OpenOffice.org's Writer. But now, after several years of development, AbiWord and KWord are both reaching early maturity. How do Writer, AbiWord, and KWord compare?
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Eh?
by JCooper on Wed 24th Aug 2005 12:53 UTC
JCooper
Member since:
2005-07-06

The general interface
The Verdict: KWord wins the race for best interface, with AbiWord back a good ways, and Writer panting far in the rear. Hmmm, to me, AbiWord has the cleanest UI hands down. It just doesn't get in your way whatsoever:
KWord: http://www.koffice.org/kword/pics/kword_pt_cnc.png
AbiWord: http://www.abiword.org/screenshots/AbiWord-2.0-Gnome.png
OO.org Writer: http://www.openoffice.org/product2/pix/writer-big.png (I admit this is over-customised as an e.g.)

Apart from that, I agree with most of the points raised in the article. I tend to use AbiWord the most for small documents, but with the betas of OO.org 2.0 being so good, I am looking forward to using it for larger documents. I currently cringe when I have to use the existing OO.org!

Reply Score: 2

Kword, Abiword, StarOffice
by Anonymous on Wed 24th Aug 2005 12:58 UTC
Anonymous
Member since:
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All 3 are on my machine - large drive. Most of the time I end up using Star because:
It can open all the attachments I'm sent. The others
can't.
Kword documentation stinks.
Open Office has too many bells and whistles for ease of use.

Reply Score: 0

RE: Kword, Abiword, StarOffice
by rm6990 on Wed 24th Aug 2005 23:38 UTC in reply to "Kword, Abiword, StarOffice"
rm6990 Member since:
2005-07-04

All 3 are on my machine - large drive. Most of the time I end up using Star because:
It can open all the attachments I'm sent. The others
can't.
Kword documentation stinks.
Open Office has too many bells and whistles for ease of use.


I'm curious, which bells and whistles does OpenOffice.org have that StarOffice doesn't? Considering StarOffice is OpenOffice.org+proprietary addons?

Reply Score: 1

Kword
by Anonymous on Wed 24th Aug 2005 13:13 UTC
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Indeed. I may be a gnome user, but KWord is simply my favorite. I have used lyx/latex for a long time, but still wanted the graphical functionality and embedding of advanced word processors. Kword is like a joint of both.

Reply Score: 0

Kword
by zombie process on Wed 24th Aug 2005 13:41 UTC
zombie process
Member since:
2005-07-08

When all I need to do is write up a paper, I use kword -- it has a much cleaner interface than any of the alternatives and does what I need. I have had bad luck with abiword crashing, etc - I understand that this isn't usual, but it was enough to dissuade me from doing much with it. When I need to do any major work that includes bizarre formatting, etc I use OO.o or (gasp!) MS Word.

Reply Score: 2

some things wrong
by Anonymous on Wed 24th Aug 2005 13:50 UTC
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Some premises of the article are false :
The final results give an encouraging snapshot of the current state of free software word processors

Wrong because KWord is at 1.4.1 and Abiword at 2.2.9 (or rather 2.3.5 as they took a development release of OOo).
Debian versions do NOT define the current state of FOSS software.

Reply Score: 2

KWord 1.3
by amadeo on Wed 24th Aug 2005 13:51 UTC
amadeo
Member since:
2005-07-06

Heck, the guy could have used more recent *released* versions for the programs. While the guy uses the OpenOffice *beta*, he uses an old version of KWord (1.3.2)

From the KOffice website:

8th July, 2004: KOffice 1.3.2 released

Since then, we had KOffice 1.3.3, 1.3.4, 1.3.5, 1.4.0, 1.4.1 ...

Reply Score: 5

AbiWord
by amadeo on Wed 24th Aug 2005 13:55 UTC
amadeo
Member since:
2005-07-06

And AbiWord is also behind...

Reply Score: 1

RE: AbiWord
by amadeo on Wed 24th Aug 2005 13:55 UTC in reply to "AbiWord"
amadeo Member since:
2005-07-06

I mean, he used an old version, not that the programm is behind, sorry.

Reply Score: 1

interoperability
by Anonymous on Wed 24th Aug 2005 14:44 UTC
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One thing he didn't cover is being able to use the documents or edit them anywhere else but the main platform.

I hane all my documents on my server and mount the ftp as a drive letter in most of my OSes. Only OO.o (and StarOffice) let me edit the docs whether I'm in Windows, a distro of linux, or OS/2. Same goes with me sharing my Firefox and Thunderbird profile. The things just work anywhere.

Abiword does have a Windows version, but not an OS/2 version. KWord doesn't even have those. So I feel this is something he should have touched on.

Reply Score: 2

RE: interoperability
by Anonymous on Wed 24th Aug 2005 15:12 UTC in reply to "interoperability"
Anonymous Member since:
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True, and it's also interesting to pull OS X into the mix. AbiWord works great in the native Aqua interface of Mac OS X. OpenOffice is available through the NeoOffice/J port, but it's pretty slow. There are rumors (and even screenshots if one pokes around enough) of Koffice working natively in Mac OS X, but no actual downloads seem to be available anywhere.

Reply Score: 0

RE[2]: interoperability
by Anonymous on Wed 24th Aug 2005 15:31 UTC in reply to "RE: interoperability"
Anonymous Member since:
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"AbiWord works great in the native Aqua interface of Mac OS X"

Well, it works. But it is ugly and buggy. The text doesn't even show up right. Everything has lines through it.

Reply Score: 0

But WHEN will it be released?
by Haicube on Wed 24th Aug 2005 15:00 UTC
Haicube
Member since:
2005-08-06

OpenOffice 2.0 Beta has been out now for, what is it, a year? I can't wait for some sort of final, but I've been waiting for that almost as long as I've waited for Haiku to become an .iso....

I don't wanna be a downer but seriously, can they at least publish a date soon of the release???

Reply Score: 1

Talking about interoperability
by Haicube on Wed 24th Aug 2005 15:22 UTC
Haicube
Member since:
2005-08-06

One thing which always made me loose it completely if we take MSO is the darn fonts.

If I use Helvetica on my Windows box, Helvetica on the OSX is not the same. This problem occurs with a whole bunch of softwares, and sometimes switching a document back and forth makes the document loose a font and use another one instead because it didn't find the first one.

Is this an issue with any of the 3 mentioned Word processors?

Reply Score: 1

ABIWord
by Anonymous on Wed 24th Aug 2005 15:43 UTC
Anonymous
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I used Abiword all through college. Great application.

Jim

Reply Score: 0

The big problem with Office software
by pauls101 on Wed 24th Aug 2005 15:48 UTC
pauls101
Member since:
2005-07-07

One of the worst things MS has done (that wasn't actually illegal, if they were bound by US law): establishing bad standards. MS Word is the sorriest excuse for a word processor I've ever seen, with an awkward and confusing interface that makes simple jobs harder than any other. But since every secretary in the world is trained to use Word, anyone who wants to compete has to imitate it.

Visual Studio is the same way. All the power it (admittedly) has is buried behind an interface that looks like a joke example of bad design. Everything is hard to find, hard to use (takes a few extra clicks, burrowing through a few extra modal dialogs or overlapping tool windows, recovering from yet another crash or freeze, etc.) But every developer has had to use it at some point, and most other IDE's try to look like it.

Reply Score: 5

ma_d Member since:
2005-06-29

Lucky for us programmers we have emacs ;) .

Word's difficult interface is one of the things that made me flirt with latex for several months. I've come to see that both solutions are a pain in the butt in some way or the other. In the end, I'm just sick of people treating .doc as a standard. Frankly, Microsoft needs to learn what 'n' means and we can standardize on plain text (Wordpad actually properly interprets 'n'). If you need more: post script or pdf. If you need more than that: Technology can't do more, maybe you should rethink the problem ;) .

Reply Score: 1

v Re: The big problem with Office software
by Anonymous on Wed 24th Aug 2005 16:06 UTC
AbiWord on OS X
by parrotjoe on Wed 24th Aug 2005 16:32 UTC
parrotjoe
Member since:
2005-07-06

I have no lines through anything with AbiWord on OS X (Tiger).

Reply Score: 1

Sad little review
by Anonymous on Wed 24th Aug 2005 17:28 UTC
Anonymous
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I would have liked to have seen the review done in the style of PCmag.com where each category is awarded points, and scores for each are listed and tallied. It would also have been interesting to score them against Microsoft Word, since this is the true app to benchmark against. This would also allowed the scoring of Word for usability, features, cost and platform support.

Reply Score: 0

NOTEPAD!
by Anonymous on Wed 24th Aug 2005 17:40 UTC
Anonymous
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Yeah baby yeah!

Reply Score: 0

RE: NOTEPAD!
by puddleglum on Wed 24th Aug 2005 18:19 UTC in reply to "NOTEPAD!"
puddleglum Member since:
2005-07-20

???
Did you mean Gedit

Reply Score: 0

My Opinion
by Adam A on Wed 24th Aug 2005 17:54 UTC
Adam A
Member since:
2005-07-07

Personally I like Microsoft Word, and the free alternatives do not even compare. I have used all of the free alternatives except Abiword.

Koffice is too confusing, and Open Office takes too long to start and looks like a hack of the Word interface.

Admitingly I did not pay for Microsoft Office, and I feel it is sadistically over-priced, the better value lies in the free alternatives. But if you could get Office for free from an employer or something, its definately worth the wait to reboot into Windows for.

Reply Score: 1

RE: My Opinion
by kiz01 on Wed 24th Aug 2005 19:16 UTC in reply to "My Opinion "
kiz01 Member since:
2005-07-06

Open Office takes too long to start

Open Office may take a while to start but it's still a lot faster than booting into Windows just to write a document ;)

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: My Opinion
by Anonymous on Wed 24th Aug 2005 19:41 UTC in reply to "RE: My Opinion "
Anonymous Member since:
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Isn't this what Crossover Office was designed for?

I've used it for years, it works great.

Reply Score: 0

RE[3]: My Opinion
by Adam A on Wed 24th Aug 2005 22:27 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: My Opinion "
Adam A Member since:
2005-07-07

Sure thing, but dosn't it cost money?

Its easier for me just to reboot.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: My Opinion
by Anonymous on Thu 25th Aug 2005 00:27 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: My Opinion "
Anonymous Member since:
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I can think of a few ways to make the $20 for Crossover Office with about 10 minutes of effort. If you can't spare $20, then you probably didn't pay for Office either.

Reply Score: 0

RE: My Opinion
by Terracotta on Wed 24th Aug 2005 21:18 UTC in reply to "My Opinion "
Terracotta Member since:
2005-08-15

I did like ms office as well, but I'm too stubborn to give that up yet. If I've had to learn how to work with ms office, than I definitaly can learn how to work with koffice.

Reply Score: 1

Kate
by Anonymous on Wed 24th Aug 2005 18:13 UTC
Anonymous
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I prefer Kate and it has sophisticated syntax-highlighting.

Reply Score: 0

OOo slowness and bugs
by Anonymous on Wed 24th Aug 2005 21:09 UTC
Anonymous
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Am I the only one who is annoyed by OOo's extreme slowness? I mean, OOo was always a bit slow, but the current beta snapshots are *extremely* slow. Sometimes it takes 20 seconds for the _splash_screen_ to appear.

There is a solution, however. At the very end of the OOo startup script, change the following line

# execute soffice binary
"$sd_prog/$sd_binary" "$@"

to the following:

# execute soffice binary
"$sd_prog/$sd_binary" -nologo "$@"

This is not a joke. OOo starts up much faster with the splash screen disabled. It should be the other way round since the splash screen should give a "feeling of progress", but it slows everything down actually.

Something else that I don't like: OOo is by far the most professional option among the three, but it has bugs, bugs, bugs.

An Example: The font rendering on screen is not the best. Have you ever tried to install or remove some TrueType fonts after OOo had been installed? No? Congratulations. If you do, *all* your TrueType fonts will become *extremely* ugly in OOo, not only the newly installed ones.

Type1 fonts are unaffected of this problem. A propos, the next question: Why does OOo always embed the TrueType version of a font into PDFs if both the TrueType and the Type1 version are installed? Sun should know that Type1 fonts work better in PDFs than TrueType.

Therefore I conclude: In my opinion OOo is by far the best choice among the three applications because it is at least a bit scriptable and programmable and extensible, though not as much as Microsoft Office, but please, Sun Microsystems, do something about the bugs and slowness.

Reply Score: 0

RE: OOo slowness and bugs
by Anonymous on Thu 25th Aug 2005 01:43 UTC in reply to "OOo slowness and bugs"
Anonymous Member since:
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Accent characters do not convert correctly to Word doc format either, which is a major problem for me at the moment, when I have to submit drafts of my thesis to a lecturer running Word on a Mac.

Reply Score: 0

RE: OOo slowness and bugs
by Calvin on Thu 25th Aug 2005 16:05 UTC in reply to "OOo slowness and bugs"
Calvin Member since:
2005-07-14

Betas tend to be slower then production products, because they usually have bug reporting/diagnostic stuff turned on by default. All that stuff slows down the program and is striped out for the final builds. Of cource that might not be the case here, just something to consider.

Reply Score: 1

Hardly Comparable
by keragez on Wed 24th Aug 2005 21:40 UTC
keragez
Member since:
2005-07-11

Both AbiWord and KWord are no match for OpenOffice/StarOffice. Really. It's like you could compare OOWriter to typesetting in vi/emacs using TeX.

And they uncomparable for lack of features. Last time I tried KWord it couldn't even export to RTF properly.

One nice novelty I noticed LaTeX output in AbiWord.

Reply Score: 0

Good Article
by Anonymous on Wed 24th Aug 2005 22:39 UTC
Anonymous
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A relatively good article.

IT is good to see that people are beginning to take more and mroe notice of HIG issues, not just in the desktop environment but in applications. It is a sign of the growing maturity of open source software.

To wade into the debate, I definitely agree that cloning Word was a bad idea. It may have been a wise move to make the software familiar for people switching from MS Office but to clone the wordprocessor always regarded as lagging far behind Lotus WordPro and Corel Wordperfect means that, sooner or later, a major redesign will have to occur, simply to catch up with what was available on the market ten years ago.

To me, Lotus was always the winner in terms of ease-of-use, with its floating palette-style dialogue boxes. I requested a similar system for Abi on that project's Bugzilla (http://bugzilla.abisource.com/show_bug.cgi?id=7283) and whilst there has been some interest, not much has come from it.

Hopefully, HIG work on applications will be a growing trend over the next few years.

Reply Score: 0

what?
by Anonymous on Wed 24th Aug 2005 23:24 UTC
Anonymous
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"From their inception, both have been playing catch-up with OpenOffice.org's Writer"

---umm correct me if i'm am wrong but abiword was around looong before openoffice.org

Reply Score: 0

OO, KO, AW not reliable for major events
by Anonymous on Thu 25th Aug 2005 04:25 UTC
Anonymous
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My other colleagues and 99% population sends me .doc files made in MSOffice. I cannot open it is OO, AW or KO without loosing format especially diagrams and graphs.
Still all opensource offices are struggling for unified cut-n-paste problem. Is it so difficult for army of thousands of so called genious OSS developers?
OO eats up memory and impossible to work with KDE with 128M memory. Don't tell me to increase memory, MSoffice works fine with XP with 128M.
TRy to draw, diagrams and presentations with impress, memory overload will hang system. And even if you manage to save it as ppt, still format goes weired at the time of important presentation event embarassing little eienstein in me. I cannot loose important contract/funds over unreliable presentation made by Impress. I will rather invest $200 in MS when I am dealing with $200K contract meeting.
KO and AW cannot save in .doc format for MS. I think there is some licencing issue with these conversions.
In conclusion these are great office suits for general purpose, but do not rely on them when you have to prepare very important document like thesis, balance sheet or contract presentation.

Reply Score: 0

Anonymous Member since:
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and yet at the same time there isn't a copy of msword on any of the campus computers, so I see mostly .swx files. which msword isn't going to help much with.

as for unreliable impress presentations. i just use impress to you know show them, cause when i try to open them in powerpoint it keeps messing with things and it never shows my presentations right (see how i just said the same thing as you but put powerpoint at fault?)

Reply Score: 0

v Linux and OSS: A Car runs ONLY on highway
by Anonymous on Thu 25th Aug 2005 06:02 UTC
Anonymous Member since:
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Your analogy doesn't make any sense, can you explain it. And whist you are doing so you can you also explain why you used the term "linux people" when all of these programs also run on platforms other than linux.

Reply Score: 0

Not free, but it works great
by gwen on Thu 25th Aug 2005 06:13 UTC
gwen
Member since:
2005-07-08

If you want some great office compatibility with MS Office, you should try ThinkFree. It runs Linux, OS X, and Windows. They recently released a newer version, and I must say it works real well with MS documents than any other Office program. There aren't any problems that I've encountered. It's not free, but if it works great, it's worth spending the $50.

http://www.thinkfree.com

Reply Score: 1

Outline
by Anonymous on Thu 25th Aug 2005 06:33 UTC
Anonymous
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I wonder how they can live without a real outline tool, with just a button to display titles.

Reply Score: 0

What's your favorite document format ?
by Anonymous on Thu 25th Aug 2005 09:59 UTC
Anonymous
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What is the best choice for simple usage : OpenOffice 1, OpenDocument, MS-Word, RTF, XHTML, DocBook, PDF ?

Reply Score: 0

Thinkfree is a joke (at best)
by Haicube on Thu 25th Aug 2005 10:41 UTC
Haicube
Member since:
2005-08-06

Just tried out Thinkfree that someone mentioned earlier. Seriously, this is more a bad competitor to MS Works.

For instance, I checked the Show application. It can't even draw a barchart... the simplest sort of graph imaginable.

Basically the Show app is like Notepad+fontsizes+drawing arrows and lines... How can this even be remotely compared to OOo or MSO?

Reply Score: 1

I want Abi-excel
by alime on Thu 25th Aug 2005 14:30 UTC
alime
Member since:
2005-07-06

I want AbiExcel, AbiPowerPoint, that would be awesome!
"A"

Reply Score: 1