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A word about AbiWord

I’ve only just started using AbiWord, but I’m already leaning away from it as my word processor of choice. I know I can’t expect total compatibility with Word documents, but I expected a little better than this:

I tried opening up a .doc file that I’d been editing (without incident) in Word 2010 and OpenOffice, and the strangest error occurred. A few pages in, several of my paragraphs were missing their first few words. I couldn’t find a way to recover them, so I closed it.

But before then I must’ve saved it somehow, because the next time I opened up that file in OO Writer I had random spaces everywhere.

So yeah, AbiWord. Not the greatest when it comes to Word compatibility. (And if Google is anything to go by, .odt isn’t looking so hot either.)

I’m still going to give it a go. I’ll just avoid opening up stories I’ve already started elsewhere, I guess. Maybe it performs better when you save and load documents in its own AbiWord format?

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5 Comments on “A word about AbiWord”

  1. J D Langton says:

    Interesting post. I have never embraced AbiWord since I am used to the familiar interactivity of an office suite, like OpenOffice.
    Open-source stuff is great for being cross-platform, compatibility being a key part of today’s interconnected world. Non-application specific, standard file formats are another crucial part of that. ODF is a great step, but sadly even between OpenOffice and the commercial alternative the interpretation is not that great. Sure, the text is retained, but I have found many of the more complex formatting elements and tools come unstuck.

    • awkisopen says:

      I’ve found this to be true, too. Complex formatting is usually a no-go between Word and OpenOffice, but luckily I don’t run into this situation much.

      I’m not sure if you’re saying ODF support is poor in Word (which I haven’t tested yet) or if you’re saying .doc support is poor in OpenOffice (which, beyond simple formatting, is definitely true). I’m hoping it’s the latter and not the former – if Word can retain complicated ODF files I’d be overjoyed at finally having a file format both free software and Microsoft Office can play nice with.

      And as for why I was trying out AbiWord, I was hoping that it would be a lighter, faster alternative to OpenOffice Writer, but its poor support in a text-only file has really made me doubt its usefulness. The rumblings about it not being able to open a .odt file just confuse me – it’s an open standard, so there really isn’t any excuse not to implement it correctly, right? Maybe there’s something more to ODF that I’m missing?

  2. Trinae Ross says:

    I tend to stay away from ODF and DOC formats. I use RTF for all of my documents and have no problem switching between various word processors. I always found the other formats to be problematic when switching between word processors. (Example, going from Word to Google Docs to Writer.

    Give the RTF format a try, you might like the interoperability.

    • awkisopen says:

      You know, I think I’m going to take that suggestion. Most programs can open .rtf just fine. The only concern I have is: page breaks. In the past I’ve had trouble getting page breaks to work consistently across word processors – it would work in one but not the other, and vice versa. (Apparently there are two different kinds of syntax for page breaks in RTF, and most software only handles one or the other.)

      Have you ever had difficulties with RTF?

  3. […] of software I’ve mentioned so far – a thesaurus, a note-taking program, a bunch of word processors – getting everything started up once you decide It’s Writing Time can be a […]


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