What better way to complete a review of a word processor than to use it to write its own review? Abiword is a truly Open Source cross-platform word processing application. Since its beginnings in April 2002, it’s been seen by the tech community as a great light-weight word processing application. That still holds true today.
This review is written for the Microsoft Windows version, but the application itself is of course available for Linux and Mac, as well as other Unix-based systems. To get the latest version for your operating system, check this page.
If you’re comfortable with compiling your own source code then that option is available, but I wasn’t feeling that adventurous so I grabbed the precompiled Windows binary and the installation was quick and painless. You are prompted as to whether you wish to install a number of additional features like Grammar checking and so on. I opted to remain with the default options.
When you first start Abiword you are greeted with a quickstart guide that shows you where to go if you are in need of help. Needless to say that if you have any experience with Wordpad or Microsoft Word you should have no problems getting comfortable with Abiword.
The first thing I noticed when typing in Abiword is the complete and utter lack of input lag. Quite often when Im typing an article up in Microsoft Word there will be a momentary delay and the cursor will skip a couple of characters. Not so with Abiword – the input is instant. I might also add that my lag experiences with Microsoft Word are not down to my system speed – Im running an Intel Core i7 2600 with 16GB DDR3 RAM.
The next thing I noticed was that I was able to save an html file free of all the junk that something like Microsoft Word would have left inside. Plain html tags, and I was even able to remove the style markup from the paragraph tags. If you dont know what Im talking about, just know that I think I’ve found my new article editor.
One slight issue I just detected while working on this document is that the spell-checker is not completely happy working on an html formatted document. It cannot read apostrophes properly and believes they are question marks. This is one of those peculiarities of the way that apostrophes are represented in html lest they be misinterpreted as code.
Ease of Use
Abiword seems to have all of the features that one would expect from a word processor, with margin settings, paragraph justify settings, the ability to work with tables and a spell-checker. On that note, tables work pretty well in Abiword. You cant style tables like in Microsoft Word 2010, but the core functionality works just the same.
You can also work with styles in the document, just like in Word. You can set headings, content styles, list styles and so on. It all just works. And the price of entry might I remind you again is free. Its really a win win situation.
The creators of Abiword should be proud. They have created a solid word processing application, one that is fast, cross-platform, and comes with most of the bells and whistles you can find in other commercial packages. Give it a go today!