Saturday, May 10, 2008

Cross-platform word processor: AbiWord 2.6

Abiword runs on multiple operating systems, and has come out with it's newest 2.6 release for Windows. The Linux version has to be compiled, or the Linux user has to wait for the Repositories for their specific distribution to offer the update. That is the "age-old Linux problem" mentioned in the title of the following review. That's not a show stopper for me, as I can wait a bit for for that. Meanwhile, the Windows version is easy to install, and super to use:

New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem
[...] Lightweight and peppy yet loaded to the core, AbiWord 2.6 is as good as they come. With the latest release, you get a few templates to create documents from, and the program spell-checks text as you type. AbiWord is multilingual and lets you input text in various languages, including English, French, German, Finnish, and several Indian languages. You can configure the editor to autosave documents after specific time intervals and maintain document history. You can also compare two documents currently open in AbiWord and find similarities in content, format, and styles.

As in previous versions, AbiWord responds to Emacs or vi key bindings. For lazy Web editors like me, it's a way to generate simple HTML as well. The latest version can create a valid XML page and embed formatting in the document itself or as external CSS stylesheets.

The new version can track document revisions from multiple sources as well as show a document before and after applying the suggested revisions. There's also a find feature to move to the next or previous revision, which can either be accepted, rejected, or purged. AbiWord allows you to add a comment for a particular revision, but I couldn't figure out how to read that comment afterward. [...]

It loads faster than OpenOffice, and has a smaller footprint. I've been using OpenOffice in our business, but I may switch to AbiWord now, as OpenOffice is a bit of overkill for our needs. I'll keep'em both, because OpenOffice does have some advanced Desktop publishing features, but I don't need them for everyday use. Abiword would be fine for the daily routine stuff, and simple Desktop Publishing too.

Now I'm just waiting for the 2.6 version update to be offered in my favorite Linux Distros too. I'm glad to have Abiword as an easy to use option.

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