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by Guido Socher (homepage)
About the author:
Guido likes Linux because it is a very flexible and offers much more possibilities than any other operating system.
Product Review: Textmaker
Textmaker is one of the new commercial word processors for
Linux. The article reflects the authors opinion and is
neither sponsored nor influenced in way by anybody else.
This leaves us with basically 2 commercial products: Staroffice and and Textmaker (http://www.softmaker.de/tml.htm). I always had a love and hate relation with Staroffice. It has a lot of features but it is very slow and really heavy. I absolutely hate it when Staroffice starts up and occupies the screen for almost a minute with a big logo which you can't click away. You notice also in many places that Staroffice wasn't really a Unix application from the beginning. So I was quite excited when I found Textmaker. It seemed to be quite slim: 7Mb download is an acceptable size.
There seems to be no support for mathematical formulas or technical drawing which makes it not a choice for scientific applications but it has definitely everything that a home user or business person expects from a word processor.
I will not continue to list all the features. Instead I will
focus on things that I personally really miss: A fast, lightweight,
true Unix office application. With true Unix I mean things like:
Runs with no problems from a central installation in a multi user
environment. X11 offers a seamless integration of local and remote
application so a true Unix application should support that too.
How about Textmaker? Textmaker is quite stable no crashes within
several days of using it. It uses about 8Mb Memory per running process and does not seem to
have big memory leaks.
Problems? Yes. The separation between users is not very good. If one user starts a document and does not save it then a second will user gets a notice at startup that there is an unsaved document. If she opens it then she gets the document of her colleague. Rendering of text and pictures on the screen is very slow even if it is running on a fast server. Something is wrong with the way Textmaker updates the screen. I don't type very fast but the text on the screen was always about one word behind my typing. This problem with the rendering of the screen does not seem to exist for a locally started Textmaker.
An other point that speaks for it self is that fact that all files in the Textmaker installation are executable (chmod 755), even font files. The happens usually when somebody who has no clue that a Unix file system is different from Windows packs files together under Windows. Textmaker is basically a Windows program that was re-compiled for Linux. Therefore most of the Linux specific things do not work. That is very unfortunate because Linux has much more possibilities and features than Windows.
Something that is probably a feature and not a bug is the fact that you can only start one instance Textmaker. It you try to start a second Textmaker process it opens the already running window. It is rather unfortunate that one can not disable this behavior (e.g via command line option). I personally like to have 2 separate top level windows when I copy/paste text parts. With Textmaker I had to use its own small internal text windows.
Which version did I actually test? Well the home page of Textmaker
(http://www.softmaker.de/tml.htm) says Textmaker
2002 but the "about menu point" in Textmaker says 389. What ever that is.
In the end I decided to buy a license even though this looks still
like beta version to me but I wanted to encourage softmaker to continue.
It has the potential to become a really good word processor if they
remember to fix bugs before and after adding features.
Softmaker should also focus on the integration into Linux. Just re-compile
it for Linux is not enough.
What I liked most in this version? The developers at Softmaker have some humor. I never understood what the following pop-up meant but it makes me smile every time I see it:
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© Guido Socher, FDL
2003-06-26, generated by lfparser version 2.38