[PLUG] Anyone Using AbiWord?

Rich Shepard rshepard at appl-ecosys.com
Sun Jan 29 09:41:32 PST 2006

On Sat, 28 Jan 2006, M. Edward (Ed) Borasky wrote:

> I don't have anything good to say about either OpenOffice.org or Abiword as
> a Microsoft Word replacement. They just don't cut it -- the fonts are
> messed up, the reading of Microsoft proprietary formats is incomplete and
> often incorrect, and both of them crash regularly on large documents. As
> far as I'm concerned, they are a waste of time and disk space. Sorry to be
> blunt, but if you have to work with Word documents, do yourself a favor and
> use Word.

   My, my. I think you mis-read what I wrote, Ed. Let me try again. I
certainly did not mean to raise your blood pressure!

   -- I've never used Word and I will not use any software from Microsoft. No
need for it. Personal preference, YMMV.

   -- I use OO.o for letters and proposals; short documents only.

   -- When I do get stuff in Word format from clients and agencies I've not
had any problems importing them in OO.o so that they're readable. Frankly, I
could not care less what fonts are in the original document (generally Times
Roman/12 pt; I guess that's the default and no one ever changes it). One of
the first things I do is block the entire document and change the font to
Bitstream Amerigo/10pt as well as fully justify all paragraphs. This makes the
document clearly readable on both the monitor and printed output and almost
always decreases the page count which I like when I need to print the

   -- I've not had OO.o crash on any Microsoft Word document. This may well be
that when I get a huge document (usually from an agency), it's generally as a
.pdf, not .doc, file. My experience with OO.o goes back to when the linux
kernel switched from libc5 to libc6 and the Corel WordPerfect/Linux-8 would
no longer load and run -- except for Paul Heinlein. :-)

> If you *don't* have a Microsoft Word compatibility requirement, however,
> there are many fine open source options. LyX and TeXmacs in the LaTeX world
> are wonderful. Scribus is a great open source desktop publishing tool, and
> there are some great HTML editors out there as well.

   -- As I wrote, on occasion I do need Word compatibility. Different writing
objectives require different tools. One size does not fit all, despite the
Microsoft marketing efforts.

   LyX is a great front-end to LaTeX; I used it for my book (Springer prefers
.tex submissions and has a TeXpert on staff in New York) and for all articles
and reports that I write. There is currently an active thread on the LyX mail
list about getting the letter class to work with letterhead paper. I've
worked out how to get my company logo/letterhead on reports and slides; the
effort for writing a letter in LyX is not worth it for me because OO.o is
perfect for this.

   Scribus is a page layout application; I'm trying to learn it now so I can
produce some marketing brochures for our fuzzy system model approach to
quantifying subjectivity in the environmental regulatory world. It's no more
appropriate for letters, proposals, and other processed words than would be
PageMaker, Ventura Publisher, or Quark Express in the Microsoft world.

   For coding -- HTML, C, Python -- no word processor is appropriate. That's
why there's emacs, vi, joe, and several dozen more plain text editors that
run from the command line or with a GUI front end.

   Regardless of my needs and preferences, I will not try to change your
preference for using Microsoft Word for whatever you want it to do. The point
of my original message is that I use only the Writer part of OO.o (and a
fraction of its capabilities at that), and nothing else in the "Office"
suite. So, if AbiWord has the import/export filters for my limited needs, I'd
prefer to have a more lightweight application installed.

Thanks for your input; it's always worth reading,


Richard B. Shepard, Ph.D.               |   Author of "Quantifying Environmental
Applied Ecosystem Services, Inc. (TM)   |  Impact Assessments Using Fuzzy Logic"
<http://www.appl-ecosys.com>     Voice: 503-667-4517         Fax: 503-667-8863

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