Friday, April 25, 2008

My apologies to Abiword

A couple of month ago, I called Abiword "stagnant, with the last major release in 2005." They released version 2.6 in March of this year, putting to rest my major complaints about the word processor. I tried it out with some ODTs I had hanging about, and Abiword did fairly well, though it choked on a couple of 200+ page books I was writing. In fairness to Abiword, though, also started having trouble at about that point, which was why I switched to Lyx.

Abiword has a few really neat features, including real-time collaboration over XMMP (Jabber), meaning you can use your GTalk account (or any other Jabber account) to collaborate with a friend. This is really powerful. It also includes basic OOXML support. Abiword doesn't handle complex styles well, so a lot of advanced style information was lost, but the basic format of the documents survived nicely.

A screenshot:

The release notes:
  • Greatly-improved support for languages like Thai and Arabic using a new Pango based renderer (Unix platforms)
  • We've included a new GNOME Office plugin that allows embedding Gnumeric charts into your documents (Unix platforms)
  • Ability to open files on remote shares, ie. samba, ftp or ssh shares (Unix platforms)
  • A new experimental collaboration plugin, allowing users to collaboratively work on the same document in real-time. There are currently 3 communication backends supported: an XMPP based one (only available on Unix systems, and it could use some love), a pure TCP/IP based one and one that integrates with the interface. Please note that we consider this collaboration feature experimental, as it hasn't seen a lot of testing outside the One Laptop Per Child deployments. Also, we are not sure yet that we won't need to make slight protocol changes to accommodate some new features. This means that the current version of the plugin might not be able to communicate with future versions of the plugin. Finally, this feature is not yet available on Windows. It will be available in v2.6.1 for that platform.
  • A massive amount of work on all of our popular import and export filters, most notably the OpenDocument filter
  • The addition of a new experimental Office Open XML import filter
  • Support for native Windows Vista menus
  • Various drag & drop and clipboard handling improvements
  • Allow dragging and dropping images in and out of AbiWord (Unix platforms)
  • Fast image previews in the Image dialog, even for huge images (Unix platforms)
  • Various toolbar improvements, most notably the improvements to make them work better on small screens (Unix platforms)
  • Lots of updates to our translations
  • Lots of small fixes in our GTK+ frontend, such as fixing those pesky tooltips that just wouldn't go away (Unix platforms)
  • Automatic font substitution using fontconfig when a specific font is not available (Unix platforms)
  • Improved support for running AbiWord in non-UI mode (sometimes also referred to as "server" mode, as offered by the AbiCommand plugin); most notably AbiWord no longer requires an X server on Unix systems in non-UI mode.
  • Improved command line handling, allowing input from standard input, and output to be directed to standard output.
  • Improved printing from the command line, deprecating our previously used custom postscript driver
  • Improved modularisations for resource constrained devices, such as optional printing and spelling support
  • For application developers we've made available an experimental AbiWord GTK+ widget; accompanying Python bindings will follow soon.
  • For distributors we've improved the build system to be more standards conformant (for example, "make dist" and "make distcheck" now work)

Add the following to your software sources to get Abiword 2.6 and try it out.
deb hardy main
deb-src hardy main



Please note that the sources lines you added are out of date. I have created an official repository for AbiWord (that's my personal one)

deb hardy main
deb-src hardy main

I'd also recommend looking at as I'll post usage notes, etc. there.

uwog said...

Yay, so then we didn't waste our time working the last 2.5 years on a dead project! :-P

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