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Old 6th June 2008
enpey enpey is offline
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Default Alternative Word Processing and Spreadsheet Applications

Hi all,

Reading through the openoffice.org thread, started to wonder what alternative applications there are.
All I would really be looking for are some basic word processing capabilities and an pdf export function for the word processor. Looking at the suggested abiWord and gnumeric, but they depend on a number of ports I'd rather not install... Are there any other relatively independent but similar apps out there?

enpey
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Old 6th June 2008
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Hello enpey,

If you don't need a WYSIWYG type of application, I would suggest Latex (or pdflatex). I use it a lot, and it produces superb quality printouts. A little frightening in the beginning, but very nice and easy once you have picked up the basics. There is also an interface for Latex, lyx, (/usr/ports/print/lyx) which claims to be almost WYSIWYG. (I haven't tried it.) pdflatex is also good for making presentations in PDF-format. A really good replacement for OOo-impress or (shudder) powerpoint.
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Old 6th June 2008
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If you already have gnome libs installed AbiWord and Gnumeric are nice. I used to use TextMaker, which was commercial but they just stopped FreeBSD support a few months ago. It had very few dependencies and was darn good.
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Old 6th June 2008
davidgurvich davidgurvich is offline
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If you want something lightweight, you might try SIAG Office. It should run on FreeBSD.
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Old 6th June 2008
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I have TexLive 2007 installed and working, combined with Vim and GNU Make == my word processing !!

I haven't need a formal spreadsheet beyond bc(1) in a long time past viewing files.


I have Abiword installed for viewing documents and Gnumeric for spreadsheets, for *writing* stuff. if I'm using tex/latex I'll usually use Google Docs.


I find Abiword is very good for viewing because of the fast startup, but less effective (imho) for writing docs then OpenOffice.


KOffice is very nice but can take some getting used to, especially the need to adjust kwords layout to something usable without a 72-inch screen ^_^.


TexMacs and Lyx might be worth mentioning on the word processor side but I never gave them much go, so I won't comment on them.


From there... Portability becomes an issue :\
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Old 6th June 2008
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You should also consider groff. It is part of every *BSD (and Solaris and probably Linux and all the rest); it is as powerful as TeX and in most ways I like it better. The preprocessor "eqn" in particular is brilliant, and I have ported "chem" from the AT&T code so that it too works. There are other preprocessors for tables, line drawings and flow sheets; there is a picture import capability.

When necessary I convert the groff input files (with the -ms macro package) to latex for submission to journals and the like. They do require some hand editing.

On the others, Abiword is lightweight and OK for what it does (don't overlook the many add-ins) but it does not read Word files well. It also exports RTF and not "real" .doc files, which is inconvenient. OO.o does much better, but I really dislike it. I probably use "Draw" more than I do "Writer." TextMaker is nice and inexpensive. Their spreadheet is quite good too. Gnumeric is fine for simple stuff, which most of mine is. Its plotting is pretty poor though.
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Old 7th June 2008
enpey enpey is offline
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I do a lot of group projects in Engineering which is mainly what I require the spreadsheet and WP for. I have used groff before but I am only really considering WYSIWYG apps at the moment, as my group members will not be impressed if I send over a report to be groffed or similar... I have however started looking at these for personal interest and thank those for their suggestions.

I do not mind OO for what it does, there is just something about it that doesn't feel right. This SIAG Office suite looks alright. Anyone had much experience with it?
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Old 7th June 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enpey View Post
I am only really considering WYSIWYG apps at the moment, as my group members will not be impressed if I send over a report to be groffed...
Collaboration is a different issue. That depends on what others use and are comfortable with. For me, I use groff -> pdf for read-once material; Acrobat can be used to add notes for comments. If a real collaborative effort is needed, I just use Word. That's what everyone else uses, and it is a lot better than Abiword or OO.o. You might get away with TextWriter.
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Old 7th June 2008
enpey enpey is offline
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Mmm I would prefer not to reboot into Windows to write all those documents though. Where can I find some info on TextWriter? I googled but cannot find anything relevant.
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Old 7th June 2008
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TextMaker. Softmaker.de. There is a trial version in ports (or at least there was).

I had Word 2000 running in Wine for a while. I've not tried it recently. I either use a Windows box or a VM.
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For collaboration, the only thing I've tried is Google Docs...

Trying to get people into some sort of orderly pass the file operation without being able to apply CVS or diff/patches would've been to much headache, so I stuck everyone with it -- works well unless you need >1 editor at one time (these days)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TerryP View Post
For collaboration, the only thing I've tried is Google Docs...
I really does depend on what "collaboration" means -- for how much is each party responsible, who is responsible for the document, and how complicated it is.

I've not used Google Docs, but I suspect it is not great at heavy math, chemistry, tables and references. I have, for example, over 2,000 references in a database from which anyone here can draw. They can be inserted automatically into groff and TeX; it would work with Word if I bought an add-in. It is also rather common to snip figures out of those references and insert them into documents. Anyone here can also go back to the lab notebooks (the raw data) and snip out pictures and data or tables. It is all in a database. I would not want to try that with Google Docs.

Usually I send drafts out for comments, and Acrobat works well for that if the file is a PDF.

I do understand that what I do is not likely to be what is necessary here. But in a sense, that is the point. You have to specify very clearly what the goal is. Initially it was just a question about simple WP and spreadsheet alternatives. Now it is collaboration. That is an entirely, and much more difficult problem.

For one paper I am writing with a fellow on the East Coast (I am on the left coast), we are using Word. But there is a lot of math, so I am using an old version of WordPerfect, and converting that to Word. As it comes back (in Word), I re-import into WordPerfect, do my bit if the equations need work, and then send it back as Word. Otherwise I do it in Word. For quick stuff I use OO.o -- no need to get into the VM or Remote Desktop.

This fellow uses a Mac, and just barely, so it works well enough. But there is no way I would try to have him use groff, any of the TeX family, or anything other than what he knows.

While the general advice so far has been good (and the usual ones), the problem really does need to be specified a bit better. My guess is most of the others will use Word, the documents will be of moderate size (say, five to ten pages), there will be no terribly complicated math or chemistry, there will be some tables and figures (complexity unknown) and references (number and any required format unknown). Also unknown is the number of authors and their roles. This has to be spelled out a bit better, as is what the standards are right now.

OK -- I've rambled on long enough..
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Old 7th June 2008
enpey enpey is offline
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I was rather vague but I am not looking for a solution to some problem. I am simply looking for alternative applications that can fill the role of some parts of an office suite.
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Old 7th June 2008
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Someone earlier mentioned Siag office as an alternative to OO or GnomeOffice. Has anyone been able to port Siag to (any) BSD? I have tried and failed several times. 'Would appreciate an usable port from anyone if possible. Not much luck on Linux sites either. A pity. A small, utile program set. Older but useful, like me at 64 years old. Anyone?!#*
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