Four Offbeat Word Processors for Targeted Tasks


This blog has covered alternative word processors before, and both writers and readers tend to agree that Google Docs and Zoho Writer are good choices. I have a few other alternative word processors that I favor, though. In this post, I’ll cover four that are worth looking into.

Adobe Buzzword is built on the Adobe Flash platform, and is a particularly good tool for collaborating with others on documents, because it lives inside your web browser. It’s free, it’s good about showing completely WYSIWYG versions of documents, and makes it easy for collaborators to be sure they’re using the same document versions. A version for the Adobe AIR platform is in development. For more on Buzzword, see Mike’s post.

Word processors today are so full of toolbars, icons, docks and other interface clutter that sometimes I like to work on a totally uncluttered document. Among applications that deliberately try to free you from all of the clutter, many are designed to keep you looking just at what you’re working on, minus interface distractions. There are several good word processors that reach for this goal, and my favorite one (for Windows) is DarkRoom.

DarkRoom is a port of the popular, similar word processor for the Mac called WriteRoom.  Both of these word processors present you with a stripped-down interface designed to keep you focused on the text you’re working on and little else. You can also see a lot of text on screen at one time. WriteRoom is good, but DarkRoom is free, and WriteRoom now costs $24.95.

From the open source world, AbiWord is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. It works smoothly with .DOC, .RTF, .TXT and HTML files, but what long-time users with experience in Microsoft Word (such as myself) appreciate is how faithful to Windows and Word conventions this word processor is. In the new version of AbiWord, there is even a new, experimental Ofice Open XML (OOXML) import filter.

Sure, GoogleDocs and Zoho Writer have their places in the world of alternative word processors, but give some of the above choices a try. Each has its own unique strong points.

Do you have a favorite alternative word processor?


Andre Kibbe

I use Q10, a fullscreen word processor like Darkroom. It has a countdown timer, a live word count, and an accompanying typewriter sound (complete with carriage return!).

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