Friday, May 8, 2009

Free office software

When people think of office software (Word Processor + Spreadsheet + more), they instantly think of Microsoft Office. However, Microsoft Office isn't the only office suite out there. There are a number of other office suites one can use.

A brief look at a few programs that are free downloads:
  • Open Office. The largest most full-featured office suite out there. It's a big download, takes up about 300 megs of hard disk space, but it's the most well-known free office suite
  • Lotus Symphony one well-known derivative of Open Office
  • StarOffice, the commercial version of OpenOffice
  • AbiWord, not an office suite but a stand-alone word processor. Open-source; The software is quite buggy (its ability to change the document's language doesn't appear to work) and I don't care for it myself
  • SoftMaker Office Word processor and Spreadsheet program; free to download and use.
  • Jarte, which is essentially Wordpad with spell checking (but not inline spell checking without getting the $20 "plus" version)
  • Easy Office, a free open-source office suite for Windows; very old and doesn't even support long file names. Strange user interface (you right-click to change text formatting). Not recommended.
  • E-Press EasyOffice (not to be confused with the other EasyOffice) Fairly large package, but the license only allows this program to be used at home; it can not be freely used at work or for work-related activities.
  • Atlantis Nova, another stand-alone word processor. Crippled freeware version; doesn't even have spellcheck.
Of all of these office suites, the one I like the most is SoftMaker.

SoftMaker is not perfect; its inline spell-checking (red lines under misspelled words) has to be explicitly enabled (other -> settings -> language).

To get Spanish-language spelling dictionaries for SoftMaker is somewhat of a pain in the butt. I went to the download page for the handheld version of the office suite, downloaded the additional dictionaries .exe file, and used 7zip to extract the Spanish language dictionaries from the .exe, which I put in the "SoftMaker Office 2006\spell" directory. Once I did this I had full Spanish-language support.

SoftMaker is a nice small office suite. I will use it for a while.