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For this article I used the latest development release version 2.9.2, so I will not focus on the stability of the application (although it crashed only once during testing).

Unfortunately, the most important thing for every open-source word processor in this corporate driven world, is interoperability. I tested opening doc and docx files and everything worked as expected. The various elements like bullets, image positions and table formats that sometimes appear incorrectly in such situations were just fine.

AbiWord is able to read and write all industry standard document types, such as documents, Microsoft Word documents, WordPerfect documents, Rich Text Format documents, HTML web pages and many more.

I then checked some everyday tasks like adding an image and editing it, importing a table, spell checking etc. Everything worked as expected and in the same way I was used to from LibreOffice.

Ok I know that these things are expected, but nothing must be taken for granted in such occasions. This is why I started searching for things that I need and use on LibreOffice no matter how simple they may sound. So I needed to determine Abiword’s ability to compare documents, and to offer enough localization (enough meaning at least spell checking ability for any language).

In my case, the need was about the Greek language, and after choosing the desired language from AbiWord spelling settings, I got the results I needed.

Dictionaries exist for over 30 languages. AbiWord supports right-to-left, left-to-right, and mixed-mode text. This means that in addition to supporting European languages, AbiWord supports languages like Hebrew and Arabic as well.

Another concern of mine is the ability to export to PDF, and thankfully AbiWord supports that as well! Press the following image to see in what more filetypes can AbiWord export to.

Now, for something that amazed me, but I am not sure if it works they way I understood it does. AbiWord offers the freedom to share your documents with any of your telepathy contacts for easier collaborative editing.

One more thing that I really liked is the ability to easily expand AbiWord thanks to the many available plug-ins. Many come pre-installed and you can find more on the Plugin Matrix!

I am sure that there will be people that will write comments saying “AbiWord can’t do this, or that” but I didn’t find anything to be sincere (except for some small details). AbiWord seems to be a great LibreOffice alternative, being much lighter and much more responsive. If you are not doing something special that is found on LibreOffice only, I definitely suggest that you should give AbiWord a try!

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  • PostBlue

    Some notes :
    – you can change the default saving format editing /usr/share/abiword-2.8/system.profile, and adding DefaultSaveFormat=”.odt” in the systemdefaults ;
    – you can change the default template (font, align, …) by editing (or creating) .AbiSuite/templates/normal.awt and saving the changes.

  • M. Juhl-Johansen Zölde-Fejér

    I wrote a short Abiword review a while back:
    – I especially think that the dialog for manipulating tables is very intuitive.
    Note also that Abiword allows for collaborative editing – several users in one document – using XMPP, which is clever.

    • Bill_Toulas

      Very comprehensive article! Nicely done! 
      I also liked very much the way collaborative editing is a simple case in AbiWord

  • Danny Sepley

    Wonderful article. I myself am a huge fan of Abiword from my time on lower-resource machines. As a (now post-high-school) student I’ve rarely had to do anything with it that involved any advanced features, though; however, when I used it to store some of my short stories, I found a strange anomaly that  happens from time to time – in between sessions (i.e. you save, close, and re-open) the typeface and size sometimes changes arbitrarily in certain paragraphs at certain points; very mysterious and completely random. That’s the only reason I don’t currently use it; I don’t want to reformat my document every time I open it, even it’s just a simple Ctrl+A and selecting a font; repetition drives me mad.

    Other than that, great review. I would like to add one thing myself: Abiword is capable of creating files outside its native format BETTER than the native word processors. I tested this with a sample ODT file saved via LibreOffice and copy-pasted the stuff into Abiword; the Abiword-generated ODT was smaller! The same went for .doc and .docx. Hats off to the devs for not bragging about THIS lightweight part of the program.

    • Bill_Toulas

      That is very interesting!

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