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Interview with Dominic Lachowicz of Abiword 53

Ur@eus writes: "We have just put up an interview at with Dominic Lachowicz of Abiword. I think it is an interesting read where Dom talks about what features are currently implemented, and what are underway. Abiword belongs to a very small elite of Free Software GUI applications which runs on almost all major desktop platforms without any emulation."
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Interview with Dominic Lachowicz of Abiword

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    We expect to have Bonobo support in AbiWord in the near future

    From what I understand, the Bonobo monkeys are filthy hairy monkeys that masturbate in public and have intercourse with whatever they find.. How does this relate to linux?

    If you think this is flame-bait, you have'nt had your coffee yet.
  • I don't think that *anyone* is going to get total Word compatibility as long as Microsoft has control over Word's file format. IMHO, what is really needed in the long run is not compatibility with Word, but a way to make the ubiquity of MS Office inevitable.
  • Maybe a separate group, dedicated to an OSS translator of Word-format documents, would be sufficient?
    AbiWord uses wvWare [], which also exists as a fully autonomous application. I've happily used it myself to translate en masse from Word to HTML. I'm sure they would welcome other word processing applications that want to use it for import (or maybe they already are, and I just didn't realize it).
  • If you are so tired "recommending" then why don't you actually _implement_ it yourself?! If you don't have the knowledge then pay someone to do it.

  • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Friday March 23, 2001 @06:52PM (#343746) Homepage
    I can't imagine anybody will be able to argue that Microsoft Word is not, far and away, the dominant product in the word processor field, and has been for some time.

    For this reason, I think it's at least worthwhile to have an Open Source project that tracks the MS Word format. Any OSS word processor that is going to succeed must support the most commonly used features of Word documents. This is not an option, it's mandatory!

    If I wanted to switch to AbiWord while the rest of my organization used MS Word, I would be decreasing the productivity of the entire group, not just my own. This is the #1 reason for Microsoft's dominance in the office space: every Mac and every Windows machine in a given workgroup can all speak the same language. Any OSS alternative that's to succeed has to play ball.

    That having been said, I don't necessarily think the creators of an OSS word processor should be the same ones worrying about what MS is doing with its document file format. Maybe a separate group, dedicated to an OSS translator of Word-format documents, would be sufficient? Let the word processor people worry about making a good, feature-rich word processor and text editor. Let someone else worry about the file formats. (Apple actually took this approach a few years back, upon realizing it was at a disadvantage to Windows in terms of file-format compatibility, when it took to bundling MacLink Plus with all new Macintosh computers...)

  • by jjr ( 6873 )
    The last time I have tried Abiword the RTF filter was working kind of funky. Other that it was a pretty good word processor for small uncomplicated documents. I should give it another try.
  • Okay, I'm looking at the latest version of Abiword.

    It now has rudimentary header and footer support coming in. But it can't do tables, footnotes, endnotes, indexes, tables of contents, custom named styles, label printing, envelopes, or mail merging.

    Couldn't the DOS versions of Word and WordPerfect do this ten years ago? Heck, didn't most word processors (with the exception of graphical ones on the Amiga) do nearly all of those things in 1987?

    What exactly is AbiWord usable for right now? One-off letters to grandma? Have any the people here "impressed" with AbiWord ever written an academic paper? I remember needing to have footnotes and include tables (at least as attachments) in papers I wrote 13 years ago in my first year of college.

    Even someone whose business is mowing lawns expects their word processor to be able to do a mail merge. Sure, I guess you can take AbiWord's XML document files, insert some custom tags with some other editor, and write a Perl program to perform a mail merge for you, but if you consider that a "solution", you probably don't believe in WYSIWYG word processors in the first place. Ditto making all tables externally in a spreadsheet--with mediocre formatting control--and embedding them.

    Hey, it's Free Software. I know. It's noble, pure, whatever. But after two years, it's closer in functionality to Wordpad than to a 1991-vintage word processor. It's not really fair to compare it to the now-free OpenOffice, since that had a decade as a commercial product to get where it is. But KWord is much farther along--and a younger project.

    The feature matrix [] on Abisource's site is revealing. You'll notice that with the exception of tables, the inventory of features implemented or planned only includes what's essentially already there. There's no evidence of a serious project roadmap, or any awareness of what features a modern word processor has. I know AbiWord isn't intended to do everything the so-called "bloated" word processors do. But being able to write a paper for an introductory Biology class or send a personalized form letter to twenty people aren't exactly "frills" these days.

    I can only speculate that the core AbiWord developers don't use word processors in their daily lives and never have. Maybe they wrote their college papers with LaTeX in emacs.
  • Hi,

    AbiWord is great. I use often, as I frequently need documents that can go between Solaris, Linux and Windows. (Yes, OO can do that too, and I use it sometimes as well, but Abi's much nicer for smaller docs.)

    One thing I don't understand is how little recognition Siag Office gets. I know it doesn't use GTK or Qt, but it is widely ported throughout various Unix systems, and it does a lot of the things that people complain are lacking from Abi.

    Personally, I use Abi as a cross-platform WordPad that has most of the nice features I miss(spelling, better formatting, XP, etc.)

    Abi's a fun tool and an excellent project to follow, but we shouldn't be so blinded by the StarOffice's and KOffice/Gnome Offices of the world that we miss the "other" free suites. Siag has been around for quite a while and offers some pretty decent features.

    Check it out:

    (Yeah, Pathetic Word isn't much of a name, but it is better than the name suggests..)
  • If word of mouth is spread via,,,, the apple users groups, and other popular mac sites that there's a free word processor working natively in OS X, I can see a lot of people trying it out. Remember, right now there are hardly ANY native OS X apps, so people will be turning to the net for stuff to try.

    It could gain momentum if it was available early with an easy install app.

    Or was that just a generic slam against mac users?
  • by VValdo ( 10446 ) on Friday March 23, 2001 @05:24PM (#343751)
    As I understand it (from reading the list archives), it's being worked on as we speak, but... man, would it be nice to see it come out, especially since I understand Office for OS X isn't ready and won't be till the summer. (That's right, right?)

    If we can get people using it on OS X (instead of Word, say), I'm sure even more developers could be attracted, which would help the project as a whole.

  • by Kyobu ( 12511 )
    Once Bonobo support comes along, can't they farm out table support to Gnumeric? Or include basic support natively and have some context-menu option to do more sophisticated stuff with Gnumeric? Because Gnumeric is really excellent.
  • Heh, nah, it was a generic swipe at AbiWord if it was a swipe at anything other than the moderators. It wasn't anti-Mac/Mac-user in the slightest. Mac users pay lots more for their computers because they think that the extra costs are worth it. But now they're going to use something as terribly limited as AbiWord, just because it's free? If I were an AbiWord advocate, I would hope that there's a lot of improvment before they even think about presenting this to a large scale Mac audience, because they run the risk of turning them off forever.


  • Yes, it will "run", but it is being interpretted. Note that I said _run_ /natively/, meaning on the CPU, not on a virtual machine of a different platform. It has been done! Look at one great hack from the IOCCC which ran, I believe, on a VAX and a Sparc (written in C) due to some interesting properties of the binary formats of both platforms. Find it on
  • Sorry, it was written in C, but the function was defined by an array of bytes, hence machine code, not really C. Pure C, of course would have naturally run on both! But this was just using C to program in machine code.
  • It's really easy to write a program that will run on Mac Os X, Windows, Solaris, Linux, IRIX, etc. in just one object file. All you need to do is write it in Java.

    Contrary to popular belief, modern Java programs written by competant software engineers can be quite fast. Unfortunately, none of the Java Open Source projects seem to be doing that, and have petered out. Too bad.
  • (No Text)
    Genius dies of the same blow that destroys liberty.
  • by SnakeStu ( 60546 ) on Friday March 23, 2001 @06:03PM (#343758) Homepage

    Forgive my late entry into the world of AbiWord, I'd never heard of it until today. After familiarizing myself with it (to the extent possible in the limited time frame), I wonder if it is a good tool built to serve an illogical purpose -- specifically, to provide broad platform support for a vast array of proprietary document formats. Given the "infinite" number of proprietary formats that may appear, isn't this essentially a set-up for failure? All it takes is releasing a new (and modified) version of a currently-supported format, or a new format, to put AbiWord further back on the support meter.

    Is it better to continually develop more palliative treatments to hide symptoms of a disease as it mutates rather than seek an actual cure? I think not. While finding the cure may be daunting, the process itself may lead to tangential benefits (even if the cure is never completed), and if the cure is attained then mitigating the symptoms immediately becomes irrelevant.

    In this case, the disease is an over-abundance of document formats. It would strike me as wiser to narrow down the format array than to try to match it as it grows. Continued support for archaic formats should be limited to batch translation to newer formats; contemporary but obscure formats should be dealt with at the publisher level to eliminate the proprietary format in favor of an equally-suitable format (preferably a non-proprietary format, as it would be unwise to suggest that any given publisher try to continue playing catch-up with another publisher's format).

  • Lyx actually supports reading DOCs. It does so through a pipe to my & Caolan's wvWare program (which turns DOC into LaTeX, which Lyx then can import). Dom
  • by Nerant ( 71826 ) on Friday March 23, 2001 @08:17PM (#343760)
    In that case, wait for tables to be implemented.
    Even better, if you code, you could help out with the development of said feature.

    I'm curious to know what you mean by "full featured word processor". =)
  • Table provides some formatting convenience for some use. Otherwise why do you think Leslie Lamport bothered to provide table macros in LaTeX?
  • As the current MacOS (X) portmaster of AbiWord, I can say that I would be very happy if Mac users used Abiword en masse.

    The only thing I'm sure is that Abiword would be the best alternative solution to read all those .doc files that clueless lusers seems to insist spreading all around the e-mail.

    Oh wait, Abiword still does not work on Mac. Stop talking and go back to work.

  • It is not about to whether to spend money or not. It is about culture and philosophy. Lot of Mac users are againt MS-Office. Simply because it is crap and not Mac friendly (despite Microsoft false advertising). People buy Mac because they like Mac, or because they work with computer graphics (publishing and al.).

    Ah and it cost several hundred of USD (yeah pricing os much more than on MS-Windows).

    It is about providing tools that people will like and will be able to use. Abiword run on UN*X, Windows, QNX, BeOS. Why not on Mac ? It runs on Windows not to kill MS-Word (even if I personally would dream of that), but to provide a reliable interoperability solution. For QNX and BeOS, it simply fill a gap, while gaining interoperability too.

  • RTF filter is not the best working part, but we are trying to work on it to make it better for sure. There are several bugs that are about to be fixed.

    If you still experience problems with RTF files, please file a bug at []. We will make sure it is fixed if we can do.

  • by goingware ( 85213 ) on Friday March 23, 2001 @09:05PM (#343765) Homepage
    I should say right up front that although I subscribe to the AbiWord list, the following is definitely my own personal opinion and I have no idea how it might correspond to the opinion of any of the AbiWord developers.

    I think doing cross-platform development is of critical importance both to the software developer and the public. Find out why at:

    There are a number of cross-platform application frameworks, one of which is the framework AbiWord is built on. Others you may be familiar with are the Mozilla [] framework and GTK+ []. The above essay is on the website for the ZooLib [] cross-platform application framework.

    You can find a list of many application frameworks in several languages, many of which are cross-platform, and many of which are free or open source, at the GUI Toolkit, Framework page [].

    Mike []

  • For all you moderators out there. Normally something like this would get moded down, but hey it made me life after a long dreary please cut it some slack ;)
  • On the other hand, my personal experience with Abiword is that it is a great program to write in. I usually don't need all of the extra cruft that Word or WordPerfect throws in; all I need is a text editor that can do bold, italic, etc. So what I do is write in Abiword, save to an RTF, then import that into WordPerfect to do whatever page-level formatting I need to do.
  • by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <> on Friday March 23, 2001 @05:18PM (#343768) Homepage
    From what I understand, the Bonobo monkeys are filthy hairy monkeys that masturbate in public and have intercourse with whatever they find.. How does this relate to linux?

    Bonobo is the name for the GNOME component architecture, which is intended to allow each compliant system to embed other compliant programs and gain their features. This is pretty similar to the way that you can embed any kind of MS Office document in any other kind of MS Office document. I guess that you could view it as allowing the programs to interact with each other promiscuously, although I'm not sure if that was exactly what the designers were thinking when they gave it that name.

    FWIW, Bonobos are actually apes, not monkeys, are sometimes referred to as pygmy chimpanzees, and are believed to be the species most closely related to humans.

  • by BetaJim ( 140649 ) on Friday March 23, 2001 @09:48PM (#343769)
    If you can escape using MS for personal documents then Latex or Tex is the answer. The format is plain text. If you can't get Word to format a document you recieved your SOL. With Tex you can just cut and paste the text.

    If a person is really interested in reading a document 10 years from now a Word format will not be used. I have backed up documents now that I can't read.

    Does a writer really want to loose access to a document they have written? If you use a document format that isn't open you can count on loosing access.

    The real answer is to use ASCII or some format that uses plain text. If you have read "In the Beginning..." by Neal Stephenson you know of these difficulties.

    If your profession depends on what you write make sure that your documents are backed up as ASCII or someother easy to get at format. Backing up a .doc file is not a backup.

  • The primary complaint I have with all the Linux office suites is filters. Yes, Word documents dominate the workplace so a major concern of mine is can I read and write .doc files to the point that it doesn't matter if someone has Word, they open my files fine and that I can open .doc files without having to go through fourty levels of "what type file is this?" "are you sure?"

    Cav Pilot's Reference Page []
  • I know what you mean with this. I have started putting out all my documentation in ASCII text. Then I get a call from one of our Intel (not the chip company) people saying that Word had put all sorts of bullets, extra spaces, tabs and generally screwed up the whole document. 25 pages I had to give to him in WordPerfect format just so it would open up in Word correctly. Even then Word wanted to put all kinds of wooferdills in. Drove us nuts. Delivery was hard copy so I just printed out the ASCII file from WP, then tried the same thing in StarOffice, lpr , Abiword, and a couple others. Turns out that Word was the only one that had troubles with the straight ASCII format.

    Let's see, cannot reverse engineer the format or would break the new laws, doesn't approve of any other format than it's own. Hmm, sounds like a monopoly to me. BUT this is about AbiWord.

    I like it, but the idea of not enough and not really good filters bothers me about almost all of them. The only one that has a decent set of filters is StarOffice.

    Cav Pilot's Reference Page []
  • We are very well aware of the limitations of Abi. It is by no means a replacement for serious WP needs. It is great for quick letters to and fron Grandma and to read and reply to your Boss's MS Word email. My wife and I regularly do just that.

    I am very well versed in Latex which I regularly use it to write long and sophisticated documents included footnotes, bibilography, MUCH MUCH better math support than any WYSIWYG word processor.

    We have a foundation upon which we are building a powerful state of the art GUI app. Each itteration of Abi has more features and fewer bugs.

    There are a number of ways Abi is very useful right now (for example reading and writing your Palm/Psion docs and sending them to your boss). Or for a fast launching viewer for quick docs. Or for people who need to need Word Docs but don't have >$100 Or for people who need basic BiDirectional docs but don't have $1000.

    As the feature set of Abi improves the number of people for which Abiis interesting will increase.

    I personally want to use Abi write Scientific Papers. I hope to be able to in one years time but whether it takes one year or two I will keep working on it. No one can stop me and it is real fun along the way:-) It is hard to describe the joy of turning ideas in your head into reality on the screen and to know that another 10^6 people will use that feature after the next release. Talk about enabling technology!

    We are not daunted by the enormous challenge of surpassing MS Word in usefulness. This is what makes working on Abi and interesting and fun thing to do.


    Martin Sevior
  • Ok, I just mailed my editor about that one. Strange thing is that so many people read through the interview before publication, yet noone spotted it. Thanks for the catch.
  • >A stupid non-portable suggestion like tabstops perhaps?

    I didn't know there were still EBCDIC users on slashdot. Isn't it hard to convert to ASCII before posting? Please tell us, enquiring COBOL writers want to know!
  • I will agree with you right up till this statement.

    "I can only speculate that the core AbiWord developers don't use word processors in their daily lives and never have. Maybe they wrote their college papers with LaTeX in emacs."

    These are the words of and uninformed, inexperienced slashdot poster that doesn't even know that they are being a troll.

    Have you ever used LaTeX? If these were LaTeX users, then they would have either stayed within the LaTeX format or made something much better than this.

    LaTeX _can_ do tables, footnotes, endnotes (has _the_best_ bibliography support), indexes, tables of contents, customized style sheets and commands, has consideration for paper size and different printing media, and supports all kinds of specialized printing needs like math, of course, guitar tabs, music sheets, electronic circuits and computer boards, and a million other things.

    Also LaTeX will look exactly the same if you print it out on a Mac, PC, or UNIX box, now or in the future. This is something that cannot be said about Word and most other cheap wordprocs.

    The only fault I find in LaTeX and TeX in general, is its strict application of Tables, I enjoy the way I can stretch and nest tables in HTML more than anything else. However I don't find myself fighting with tables in LaTeX like I do in Word/WordPerfect/Star.
  • From my personal trials with Abiword, I've found that it doesn't hold a candle to a polished, full-featured word processor like Word or WordPerfect (StarOffice comes close..but it's just way too slow!). The article commented about tables not being supported, and with plans to implement them right after 1.0. For this reason alone many of us simply cannot switch to Abiword for our main word processor - I use tables in almost every document for effective formatting.

    Then again, vi is enough for the writers of Linux Journal [], so I guess that makes Abiword overkill :).

  • I only briefly used Abiword, so I cannot be certain it doesn't have this functionality, but I use the following:

    - Basic drawing tools (useful for small diagrams in lab writeups, etc) - The ability to import in a variety of media - esp. spreadsheets (I hear this will be coming soon), etc. - Like I said, tables are very important to me - I don't use them, but macros are commonly used in automatic letter generating apps, etc - Full import/export compatibility with Office 97 and 2000 - which means Abiword must support all of that functionality. I'm sure there are more advanced features deeply hidden in Word that I personally don't use but some businesses might, but I'm sure the Abiword developers are quite aware of any shortcomings. Two of the nicest things I see about Abiword are its cross-platform nature and its incredible speed. I'm definately, definately willing to switch to another word processor, and I have a feeling I'll be switching to either Abiword or Open Office soon. Perhaps I came off wrong in saying I don't like Abiword - I do, it's a very impressive open source product. I look forward to trying new versions as they are released.

  • Bullshit bullshit bullshit.

    Your problem sounds like it really sucks. It sounds like Word really sucks. I think word sucks.

    Suck it up. Do one of three things that prove you have a choice:

    Get your Intel people to use the same product as you (competition to Word, btw)

    Get your Intel people to use one of the other products your listed (more competition to Word, btw)

    Get a new job where they use non-Word products.

    Lets see... you had a product you think is better than Word, you had a product you think worked better than Word, but you had to exchange files with a program that was apparently incompatible. The guy running Word (or his boss) apparently thought Word was better. So, they are a monopoly because you and he disagree? Is that the deal? If someone has a different opinion it constitutes a monopoly?

    Successful marketing and sale of a product never constitutes a monopoly. Incompatible file formats do not constitute a monopoly. Monopoly power is the power to affect an industry, to raise or lower prices without regard to the market economy, and the utter lack of competition. Microsoft enjoys none of those things. Last time they update their DOC format, did it change the file formats that pico could write? No. ASCII is ASCII. Can Microsoft charge $10k for Word? Not without taking a near fatal hit to the market for Word (if not completely fatal). Does Microsoft face competition? You don't use Word, do you? Me either. I think its buggy, bloated, and too expensive. I use Vi, and write formatted documents in LaTeX if needed. You can too, and so can the guy from Intel. If you want compatibility, thats a *feature* of a specific product, not a god given right.

    MS doesnt hold a monopoly in office tools, they just sell a wildly popular and wildly used tool at a price many people find to be reasonable. Lets not punish people for success.

  • The interview was great, had excellent detail. Seemed to be missing the link to the main AbiSource Website so we could download the thing.

    Well the link is here [], with the download page here [], just in case the URLs for the place not not obvious.


  • If you want to write letters to mommy and daddy, or a letter to the editor at your local newspaper, then Abiword, kword, staroffice, etc, are fine. If you do SERIOUS writing: research, scientific publishing, etc, then they are pathetic toys of no use - merely glorified text editors.

    I really object to the tone of this - the implication that scientific papers or research articles are somehow more important than other kinds of writing. You have a good point that the linux WPs don't have the features you obviously need - but why do you feel it necessary to make that point by putting down other people's work?

    Let me put it this way - if I was responsible for deciding which features got included when in a Word Processor, I think I'd go for the most widely used ones first. Like it or not 99% of all Word Processing is writing letters and simple documents.

  • THERE IS NOT A SINGLE LINUX WORDPROCESSOR THAT IS A SERIOUS WORDPROCESSOR. A REAL and serious wordprocessor would support references/citations in some way. In the Windoze and Mac world, Word or Wordperfect have EndNote to handle citations and generation of bibliography pages. In linux the ONLY apps that can do this are latex plus bibtex or lyx plus pybliographic or sixpack.

    It is impossible to write serious research papers or professional scientific papers without a bibliography/citation capability of some type. It is unacceptable to have to create a reference page or pages by hand and then enter your citations throughout your paper by hand. With lyx, which is not properly a "wordprocessor", this is trivial and easy via pybliographic or sixpack (or you can do it semi-automatically within lyx as long as you know the index names of all your citations).

    What is needed is for SOME linux wordprocessor to actually include this functionality within itself, along the lines of a built-in EndNote or pybliographic or sixpack OR it needs to include a pipe that can be utilized by pybliographic or sixpack for interfunctionality. Pybliographic and sixpack use the lyxpipe to place citations into your lyx document. In lyx, you enter the bibliography name at the end by adding a reference section. When you print it, it automatically handles the citation formatting as well as the formatting of the reference page(s)...just like working with Word or Wordperfect on doze or the Mac with EndNote.

    I have requested/suggested this functionality to everyone who is working on wordprocessors (koffice, Sun with staroffice, abiword, etc) but it never comes to anything. No scientist or serious researcher can make any use of the weak wordprocessors available to linux without this functionality. That leaves serious writers with lyx or latex, period.

    If you want to write letters to mommy and daddy, or a letter to the editor at your local newspaper, then Abiword, kword, staroffice, etc, are fine. If you do SERIOUS writing: research, scientific publishing, etc, then they are pathetic toys of no use - merely glorified text editors.

  • I stand by what I wrote. You CANNOT write research papers (in school/college/work) or any kind of scientific article without citing references. A hell of a lot of people have to write papers in school, no? A lot of people, from CS to physicists to biologists to doctors HAVE to cite references in any official papers of any importance. You simply cannot do this properly with word processors that require you to add reference pages and citations by hand as an afterthought.

    Mundane writing is fine but it is ONLY thing that ALL available wordprocessors do with near equal ability. You can do this with a simple text editor. What not a single wordprocessor in linux can do is what each of the MAJOR wordprocessors in the windoze and mac worlds CAN do (via an additional software package like EndNote)...handle references/citations/bibliographies. To do this, the wordprocessors have to be friendly to the addon app. NONE of the linux wordprocessors are like this. Not a single one even considers the possibility that people may actually need to cite references - hence they (the developers) expect all writing to be based on nothing. Heresay. They obviously don't recall college or primary school in which they HAD to cite references. They obviously have simple jobs that do not require extensive research to back up what they state/write. If they did, they would realize that you MUST cite references or your words are no better than the bark of a neighbor's dog. Mere noise.

    I am tired of recommending to these developers that they would actually have something different from EVERYONE else if they made their package friendly to not only the casual writer, but also the professional who makes proper attributes in their writing.

  • I certainly DID mention what I use. I use lyx plus pybliographic. This suffices for the most part but lyx isn't quite as "friendly" as many wordprocessors are and there are some quirks that drive me nuts.

    In spite of the fact that most of the sci-journals I submit to do not accept Word documents, I have to ultimately open my lyx docs in Word to save them as word documents for in-house use. Lyx and latex just don't do doc. At least, with a number of the word processors, there is an ability to save docs in Word format- and if they had the reference/citation ability I mention, they would be near perfect for use.

    One could do their writing and citing, save the doc in word format and only have to dick with a few formatting errors in the real Word package to make it identical to the original.

  • OK... Oh yeah, I'm not a programmer, I'm a biologist. I forgot for a moment and thought I actually had time to quit my research and learn a programming language, dive into the source of one of these projects and fix their critical weakness vis a vis research writing.

  • I will certainly consider it but I think I will still give a few other things a shot first to make sure that the "problems" I sometimes have are real vs due to lack of lyx knowledge.

    For instance, I have a paper ready for submission but my thesis advisor has to review it first. He complains that the font used (by default) in lyx for the abstract is too small. I cannot seem to change this if lyx is set to use one font size and ONLY one font size for an abstract style. Other issues have to do with formatting that, so far, I can only seem to clear up by learning latex commands, which I would rather avoid whenever possible.

  • Unlike other "office suite", Abiword is for one thing and one thing only: word processing. Taking to heart the UNIX principle of having small programs that each only do one thing, but do it WELL.

    So what if Abiword can't do your spreadsheet, access the web and send your doc as email attachment (yuck!). With support for GNOME's component architecture, it will be possible to combine Abiword with other applications, like piping one command after another on the CLI.

    Since Abiword runs on multiple platforms like Windows and Mac, it is a great way to introduce new users to GNU software without forcing them to install Linux (yet). Like the Windows version of GIMP, it shows that not all GNU/Linux programs are "hard to use command line programs", a common FUD attack.


  • Use tables for effective formatting?

    I only use tabs:)


  • Hi,

    Looks like simple tables could be implemented as multiple rows tabs.

    Beware that i know very little about word processing...


  • Is there an open source document specification around? Would something done in XML result in files of insane size? Of course, Mr. Softy won't support anything that might threaten market share...

    Even Mr. Softy can't keep his formats straight, as I discovered when I dropped a Visio drawing into a Word2K .doc. I got a "No love for you" message at the location of the drawing {field} after opening it in Word97. Word97 and Word2K apparently use the same format, except for when they don't.

    The issue with format converters is fidelity. There is always going to be some new feature that doesn't come through. Mr. Softy will throw a little entropy in there, just to find out who is determined to work around all the low-level tricks. What is required is management comittment to supporting alternative applications. Good luck.

  • Do you really think, there is one program out there, which can read all the .doc-files??

    And, btw. could you please tell your concern to micro$oft, so they will publish the word file format? Thanks...

  • Agreed, but Abiword is definitely getting there!

    Star Office scores a bit better with respect to filter/file compatibility, but it just seems to slow and bloated on my 500 MHz K6. I've always been bothered that SO has never seemed truly integrated w/ my GNOME desktop. Perhaps it's better w/ KDE.

    But back to Abiword, it loads and executes quickly and works well with simple files. Once it can deal with tables and output .doc files it stands to be a real gorilla!

    Keep up the good work Abiteam!
  • RTFM!
  • My favorite part of the conversation was the bit at the end where Christian began to loose it and talk to himself. Can you say "dissociative identity disorder"?

  • This is too true. I know many people (teaches, etc.) who get sometimes won't even try to open and grade a file if it doesn't work flawlessly the first time. This is rather annoying because you can get counted off for work you did but your teacher was too dumb to open. Once nobody can tell the difference between an AbiWord doc and a Word doc then the converting of the clueless masses can truely begin.

It is clear that the individual who persecutes a man, his brother, because he is not of the same opinion, is a monster. - Voltaire