Friday, 4 May 2012

Abiword and me

Yesterday I tweeted that Abiword didn't seem to play nicely with the latest Ubuntu release, Precise Pangolin, perhaps because they've shipped  aversion of 2.9.2, which isa development version rather than the more usual 2.8.6.

I havn't had time to investigate, all I can say that I had two crashes in ten minutes, which, given I was working on a document at the time was a little irritating.

Abiword for me has the great virtue of being lightweight and running nicely on Windows 7 including Home starter, which runs on my netbook, meaning that I can have a reasonably flexible offline editor for working on drafts. Essentially all the functionality of the Google Docs editor while being offline.

Documents can then be cut and pasted into other documents, pasted into wordpress, or indeed saved to the dropbox or google drive folders for upload when next online.

And this is one of my tricks for getting work done, when travelling or working in places without decent wi-fi (or indeed places with expensive wi-fi). It also meant that I didn't need to lug a full size laptop around (one of the real hassles of travel) when an inexpensive netbook would do.

To be sure anything half decent that allows the layout of text would work - Kate, the KDE text editor, would be fine (in fact better if I was fiddling with stuff), but there isn't anything free that works on a windows netbook (and it has to be windows as I need to use my Huawei virgin mobile broadband  key with the system - I'm sure I could get it to work with linux, but I don't have the time) so I end up using abiword.

This isn't that bad, or rather wasn't. I could also use it on linux, share the documents to myself, work on them at home and at the end of the process export the document in  a more mainstream format (and if I forgot abiword worked just about enough on the Mac to allow a resaving in a more useful format).

Working on linux remains an essential. While I've long given up any hope of linux on the desktop achieving world domination the fact remains that I still need to play with linux systems as my forays with Omeka and desktop OCR show. If you don't play with this stuff it remains brochureware and you have no understanding of the realities of working with particular products.

Abiword gave me a common lightweight document editor between platforms that allowed me to lay out  text nicely.

There are of course alternatives Libre/Open office for one but its just a little annoying when you find that something worked stops working for you ...

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